The principles of healthy eating

The principles of healthy eating help to promote a balanced diet and there are five important food groups:1,2

Food groupWhy it's importantGood
Recommended servings*
  1. Carbohydrate or starchy foods

Starchy foods contain carbohydrate which is important for energy. Wholegrain or wholemeal varieties are a great source of fibre. Starchy foods also provide our bodies with B vitamins.

Bread, cereals, potatoes, pasta, rice, oats, noodles, yam, green bananas, sweet potato, millet, couscous, barley and rye.

3 – 5 servings a day.

Portions to be spread over the day and eaten with each meal (including snacks).

  1. Protein

Foods high in protein are important for growth and repair. Protein foods are also good sources of a range of vitamins and minerals. Some are good sources of iron.

Meat, fish, eggs, poultry, vegetable protein, nuts, beans, peas, lentils, Quorn and soy protein.

2 – 3 servings a day.

  1. Milk and dairy products

Milk and dairy foods provide protein and calcium which help to keep bones and teeth healthy.

Milk, cheese, yoghurt, fromage frais, milkshakes.

At least 3 servings a day.

(Dairy or cow's milk free substitutes for a child with cow's milk allergy)


For a child with cow’s milk allergy, dairy-free alternatives are available from major supermarkets and whole foods stores. Examples of alternatives include calcium-enriched oat, soya and coconut milk.

  1. Fruit and vegetables

Fruit and vegetables are an important source of vitamins, minerals and fibre.

Fruit and vegetables can be enjoyed fresh, frozen, tinned, dried, or juiced.

At least 5 servings a day.

  1. Fat and sugar

Foods high in fat and/or sugar are high in calories and can be lacking in other nutrients.

Butter, margarine, cooking oils, cream, salad dressings, chocolate, crisps, fizzy drinks and squashes, sweets, jams, cakes, puddings, biscuits, pastries.

Eat occasionally and in small quantities.

If you have any concerns about your child’s food intake, please discuss these with your healthcare professional.

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RXANI130244c Date of preparation: February 2014

RXANI130244e Date of preparation: February 2014

RXANI130244f Date of preparation: February 2014