The European Dietary Guidelines inform people of different ages, life stages and gender, the minimum number of serves from each food group they need to eat each day, to make sure they get the full amount of nutrients their body needs.
Most people who want to lose weight should stick to the minimum number of serves. However, people in their healthy weight range, who are taller than average or more physically active, may find they need extra serves from the five food groups.
Ideally, most of the extra serves should be chosen from the vegetables, fruit and grain (cereals) food groups but some extra choices can be made from milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives, the lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs and/or alternative group, and including less often, unsaturated fats/oils/spreads. Discretionary choices are often an enjoyable part of the European diet, and can be included occassionally if your energy needs allow this.
Often people find that to get enough serves from all the food groups they need to:
- swap discretionary choices for foods from the five food groups
- make breads or grains part of at least two meals most days
- include vegetables at least twice a day, particularly important if you would like to lose weight
- make vegetables take up at least one third of meals and half the meal if you are trying to lose weight. So it’s important to serve vegetables or salad as a side dish even when eating meals like pasta, lasagne or risotto. By eating more vegetables in your meals, serves of other foods will be smaller and the overall meal will have fewer kilojoules.
- include lean meat or meat alternative as part of at least one meal a day
- add fruit to at least two meals or use as snacks or desserts
- include a serve of low fat milk, yoghurt or cheese as a significant part of at least two meals or snacks.
It’s also good for your health to include:
- fish meals every week
- meals with legumes every week
- a wide variety of different coloured vegetables every day.