How to eat correctly

If you tried to count the number of different foods on market stalls or supermarket shelves, it would take an eternity. There must be hundreds, if not thousands. To keep them all organised, food is grouped into seven large families. Here we’ve presented them in order of importance for a varied and balanced diet.

1. Drinks
Water, tea, herbal teas ...

2. Cereals, starchy foods, pulses
Pasta, rice, potatoes, lentils ...

3. Fruits and vegetables
Apples, strawberries, carrots, spinach ...

4. Dairy products
Milk, cheese, dairy products ...

5. Meat, fish and eggs
Poultry, red meat, chicken eggs ...

6. Fat
Butter, oil, fresh cream ...

7. Sweet products
Sugar, honey, chocolate, cakes, fruit juices ...

 

Your body needs these different food families in order to develop, but the quantities and frequency of consumption vary. You should eat the right thing in the right quantity at the right time.

For example, you can drink water for as long as you’re thirsty.

Cereals, starchy foods, pulses, fruits and vegetables are handy for delivering energy. Dairy products are important for growth so you should eat a sufficient amount of these in the form of milk, yoghurts, cheese and so on.

Meat, fish and eggs should be consumed with more moderation (but at least once a day). In particular it’s recommended that you limit red meat (beef, veal, mutton, and so on) to once a week.

Fats are important for your development, but a small daily amount is enough. That’s also the case for sugary products: not too often, perhaps as an occasional afternoon snack or a dessert.

In general, humans need a little bit of each food group in order to grow and develop, while at the same time enjoying the experience. If you eat the right variety of foods you will achieve a "balanced diet". A balanced diet and exercise are the keys to staying healthy.

 

                                                                           © Rawpixel / Freepik

For older children (9 to 12 years old)

Why do we organise foods into different groups? And how?

The foods we eat don’t all have the same level of usefulness. Each one provides different nutrients. That’s why variety is essential for a balanced diet, so all the body’s needs are covered.

The seven food families can also be clustered into three broader groups based on their role.

 

GROUP ONE: BODY BUILDING FOODS

1. Meat, fish, eggs.

What do they give us?
They deliver protein, iron, vitamin B (essentially Vitamin B12).

What for?
They ensure the development and maintenance of all the cells of the body but its consumption promotes the building of muscles.

2. Dairy products.

What do they give us?
They provide calcium, vitamin A and vitamin D, protein.

What for?
They give us strong bones and teeth.

 

GROUP TWO: ENERGY FOODS

1. Starchy foods, cereals, pulses.

What do they give us?
They provide carbohydrates, vitamins of group B.

What for?
They deliver the energy we need to use our muscles – and also our brain!

2. Sweet products.

What do they give us?
They deliver rapidly absorbed carbohydrates.

What for?
They provide short-term energy to the body.

3. Fats.

What do they give us?
Fatty acids and vitamins A, D and E.

What for?
They are necessary for body and cellular renewal, the manufacture of hormones and the proper functioning of the brain.

 

GROUP THREE: PROTECTIVE FOODS

Fruits and vegetables.

What do they give us?
They provide water, fibre, and C vitamins.

What for?
They enable the proper functioning of the body and protect it from diseases. Fibre intake is important for the proper functioning of the intestine.

Among the food groups, we shouldn’t forget drinks, especially water, which is actually the only essential drink for the body. An adult should drink 1 to 1.5 litres of water a day. For children it depends on their weight, but the water can be consumed for as long as they’re thirsty.

Lexicon

Nutrient: A nutrient (micro or macro) is a substance in food that takes care of your body’s needs, including growth and development. Vitamins and trace elements are micro-nutrients, while carbohydrates, proteins and fats are macronutrients.

Vitamins: These are nutrients. There are 13 kinds of vitamins, each of which has a different role. They are identified by a letter and sometimes a number. The most well-known is vitamin C.

Nutritional Composition: Each food consists of nutrients that provide for the functioning, development and growth of the human body. Nutrient composition varies according to specific foods and brings different benefits for the body.

For instance the starchy food subgroup, which consists of bread, pasta, rice, pulses and potatoes, delivers energy.

Processed foods: These transformed foods bear little resemblance to the raw products they started out as. There are several categories of moderately processed products (bread, cheese, canned vegetables, etc.) and ultra-processed products (crisps, biscuits, sodas, breakfast cereals, etc.) which have been transformed via multiple industrial techniques and which often include additives (for conversation or to add flavours or smells). The role of processed foods in health and growth is still poorly understood, but it’s best not to each too many of them. In fact it's better to cook!