Bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy food
About a third of your food should be starchy foods – this food group is our body’s main source of energy and should be a part of all meals. Choose higher fiber/wholegrain options when possible – they contain more fiber, vitamins, and minerals and provide energy that is released slowly, making you feel fuller for longer and less likely to snack between meals. These may seem like small portions but remember you can use more than one of your portions per meal. For things like cereal, rice and pasta it may be useful to weigh the portion out once to see what it looks like on the plate as a guide for the future. This can also help you prepare to judge your portions when you’re eating out.
Aren’t these foods fattening?
Starchy foods (sometimes called carbohydrates) aren’t any more fattening than any of the other food groups. However, it can be easy to eat more of these foods than we need, meaning the calories really add up! The key is to not add fat when you’re cooking and preparing these foods, and keeping track of your portion sizes.
A few thing to remember:
•Potatoes, yams, and plantain don’t count towards your ‘5 a day ‘– they are starchy foods.
• Fruit juice and smoothies are nourishing but quite concentrated in calories. Keep to only one portion – a small glass – of unsweetened fruit juice or pure fruit smoothie a day. Avoid sugary squash or fruit juice drinks which have added sugar.
• Dried fruits are quite concentrated in natural sugar so have only one portion of these a day.
• Only one portion of pulses like kidney beans, chickpeas, and baked beans can be counted as fruit and veg. Any more portions should be counted as a starchy food.
• The fruit and veg in sauces, soups, puddings, and yogurts can count towards your five a day – but watch out for the salt and saturated fat in these foods.
• Avocado pears are high in healthy fats, but this means they are also high in calories. Have as a salad garnish only once a week and half an avocado occasionally as a treat.
Ideas for getting the most from your starchy foods:
•Bake, boil or steam starchy foods, rather than frying them. And avoid adding fat once they’re cooked – for example, don’t add butter to potatoes or chappatis, or creamy sauces to pasta or rice.
•Try making your own bread, rolls, scones or chappatis with wholemeal flour.
•Eat potatoes with their skins on to get an extra boost of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
•Add pulses such as lentils, beans, and chickpeas to stews or curries.
Milk and dairy foods
This food group includes milk and milk products such as cheese, yogurt, and fromage frais – but not butter, margarine or cream, which are part of the food and drinks high in fat and sugar group. Milk and dairy foods are an important source of calcium and protein. The fat content varies a lot among different foods in this group. Choose lower-fat versions when you can – this will mean you can benefit from their protein, calcium and other nutrients, but have less fat to go with it. If you don’t drink milk or eat dairy foods, it’s good to use a milk substitute like soya milk, with added calcium – go for the unsweetened versions.