Food Groups

Grouping the foods

In this lesson, you will learn about grouping the foods into different groups according to their nutrient content. The inclusion of these food groups in our daily meals is important to provide an adequate diet. This knowledge is essential to make sure that you are eating the right food in the right quantities. In this lesson, you will learn how to ensure the nutritional adequacy of the food that you eat every day and how you can plan the same.


After reading this lesson, you will be able to:

  1. Categorize foods into food groups on the basis of nutrients;
  2. Explain the term ‘balanced diet’;
  3. State the meaning of ‘meal planning’ and its importance;
  4. Enumerate the factors influencing meal planning;
  5. Analyze the nutritional needs of members of the family and modify the meals accordingly;
  6. Define ‘therapeutic diet’ and its need;
  7. Enumerate the types of modification of the normal diet,
  8. Suggest modifications of a normal diet for people suffering from common diseases.

The knowledge of recommended dietary allowances and composition of food is necessary for the selection of an adequate diet. But if we start doing this, it will be a tedious process. Therefore, it is necessary to translate the nutritional needs into kinds and amounts of food that we should eat. Such a piece of information can then be used in the everyday meal planning exercise. This is achieved by dividing/categorizing all food items into various groups called food groups. Now let us see what a food group is. A food group, quite simply, consists of a number of food items sharing some common characteristics.

Let us see the two ways of classifying food into groups

  1. Physiological
  2. On the basis of function on the basis of nutrients

Classification Based on Physiological Functions

In the previous lesson, you have studied that food has three basic physiological functions. Can you remember these? Yes, energy giving, repair, and growth, protection and regulation.

Classification Based on Nutrients

Now we will study the classification based on the nutrients which they supply.

Identify the Five Food Group System and their Main Nutrients

  1. Cereals, Grains, and Products
  2. Pulses and Legumes
  3. Milk and Meat Products Milk
  4. Fruits and Vegetables
  5. Fats and Sugars Fats

Note: Carotenoids are a form of vitamin A available from plant sources. A ready reckoner is provided to give you comprehensive information on the nutrients, their food sources, and groups to which they belong. In this system of food grouping, similar food items are placed together. For example, all cereals are similar in their nutrient content and all pulses are also similar in nutrient content. Similarly, milk, egg, and flesh foods are comparable, all oils, butter, ghee have similar nutrients. Therefore, if we substitute one food for the other in the same group we will, to a large extent, get the same nutrients. For example, whether we select wheat flour, rice or bajra we would get approximately the same nutrients.

Substitution of one food item with the other in such a way that the nutrients provided by them are the same is called Food Exchange. Food Exchanges make Diet Planning Easy

Read Also: Equipment Used for Food and Beverage