The Food Pyramid balances foods in the amounts needed to make sure that you get all the energy and vitality that you need.
You can see at a glance that most of your food should come from the breads cereals and potatoes shelf and from the fruit and vegetables shelf. Fats, biscuits, cakes, confectionary and high fat food snacks can be enjoyed as part of a healthy eating plan, but in limited amounts.
Choosing foods from each shelf in the food pyramid in the correct amounts will provide you with the balance of energy, protein vitamins and minerals you need each day. The more active you are, the higher your energy needs will be. Energy should come from the breads, cereals and potatoes shelf, and from the fruit and vegetable shelf.
Foods that contain similar nourishment are grouped together and can be interchanged. This allows you flexibility of choice, and provides the variety you need for good health. If your children are not great vegetable eaters - don't worry: try raw vegetables - and offer them more fruit instead - plenty of variety is the key to getting the balance right!
Amounts to eat from each shelf of the pyramid
Breads cereals and potatoes.
Choose at least 6 or more of the following each day:
- 1 bowl of breakfast cereal or
- 1 slice of bread or
- 3 dessertspoons of cooked pasta/rice or
- 1 medium potato - boiled or baked
- If physical activity is high, up to 12 servings may be necessary
Fruit and vegetables
- Choose at least 5 or more of the following each day
- ½ a glass of fruit juice or
- 3 dessertspoons of cooked vegetables or salad or
- Small bowl of homemade vegetable soup or
- 1 medium sized fresh fruit or
- 3 dessertspoons cooked fruit or tinned fruit (preferably in its own juice)
Milk, cheese and yogurt
- Choose any 3 of the following each day
- 1/3 of a pint of milk or
- 1 carton of yogurt or
- 1 oz of Cheddar cheese or Edam or Blarney
Choose low fat choices frequently
Teenagers: choose at least 5 servings
Pregnant & breastfeeding women: choose at least 5 servings
Low fat milk is not suitable for young children
Meat, fish and alternatives
Choose any 2 of the following each day
- 2oz cooked lean meat or poultry or
- 3oz cooked fish or
- 2 eggs (not more than 7 per week)
- 9 dessertspoons cooked peas/beans or
- 2oz Cheddar type cheese (preferably low fact) or
- 3oz nuts (not suitable for young children)
Choose 3 servings during pregnancy
Oils and fats
Use about 1oz low fat spread/low fat butter or ½ oz margarine or butter each day. Use oils sparingly. Sugars, confectionary, cakes, biscuits and high fat snack foods
If you drink or eat snacks containing sugar, limit the number of times you take them throughout the day. Eat high fat snacks in only small amounts, and not too frequently. Choose lower fat, sugar free alternatives.
** Our main image has been reproduced with permission from the Department of Health & Children
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