Food groups
Food guide units
Eating patterns
Quality and safety






Healthy eating plan
A diet that provides foods that supply the correct amount of nutrients needed for health; it has enough food and a variety of clean, safe food. Some people call this a balanced diet; that term is difficult to evaluate and explain, and the word diet is often associated with slimming diets. A healthy eating plan can include some foods that have low nutritional value (such as sweets or chips) when most of the meals, most of the time, are made from foods from the food guide.

Food groups
Most foods contain many different nutrients; the foods in the food groups used for nutrition education contain similar amounts of the main nutrients. The foods in one group are usually used in a similar way in a mixed meal.

Mixed meals
An eating plan is likely to be healthy when it has three or more mixed meals each day. Most mixed meals will include a starchy food, and foods from different food groups. The daily eating plan should include food from most of the food groups, most days of the week. Fish, chicken, lean meat or eggs can be included when they can be afforded.

A portion is the amount of food that a person eats of one food at one time. Members of the same family may have different portion sizes of some foods, e.g. active men will have a bigger portion of starchy food than women, but they may have the same portion size of vegetables. A single portion of food may have one or more units (food guide units) that are eaten at one time.

Unit / food guide unit
A unit of food within a food group is calculated based on the nutritional value of the food, and this amount is then stated. Thus a single unit of each food in a food group provides a similar amount of nutrients as other units in that same group. The unit sizes of different foods are described in different ways, for example 1 slice of bread (starchy food), 1 apple (vegetables and fruit) or 1 cup of milk (milk group).