The five food groups are familiar to us. There are some foods that don’t fit into any of these five food groups nor are they required as a part of a healthy diet. Such foods are high in fat, sugar, sodium levels or alcohol and low in fiber/nutrition. While being energy-dense they are poor in nutrition value, but often are substituted for much more nutritious foods from the five food groups. The only result of consuming these foods is increased risk of obesity, chronic diseases or some forms of cancer.
What are Discretionary Foods
The kind of foods that satisfy your taste buds devoid of any nutritional value but high in energy, salt, sodium and fats fall under this discretionary food category. In short, ‘optional’ foods and drinks are called as ‘discretionary’ choices.
People on a weight loss program or those suffering from medical conditions can’t even dream of eating these foods. But, people in the normal weight ranges usually do drink or eat these foods in small quantities to enjoy the pleasure of eating and to make their life enticing.
Your processed meats, sweets, biscuits, cookies, pastries, desserts, cakes, ice creams, chocolates, other confectionary; burgers, French fries, potato chips and other salty/fatty foods; butter, cream and spreads high in saturated fats; soft drinks and alcoholic beverages, sports drinks and energy drinks come under the ‘discretionary’ foods category.
The table below segregates these foods into four categories depending on their base ingredient:
These foods also have serving size and portion sizes just like the foods in the five food groups. One serving of a discretionary food is the quantity that contains 600kJ. Some examples of a serve of these foods that contribute towards 600kJ include:
Fusing Discretionary Foods with our Everyday Food
One category of people who need extra calories, for instance those who are taller and more active, can incorporate a small portion of discretionary foods in their diet. Ideally, it is better if these extra calories come from the five food groups, particularly vegetables and whole grains including beans/legumes and fruits. But, occasionally a serving of discretionary foods is not harmful. Whole grains help individuals stay full for longer time periods due to their fiber content and aids in weight loss. For more information on the different whole grains and to choose the best of the lot, please visit the website www.firsteatright.com.
For people planning to lose weight or for those who want to stay slim, it is better if you don’t include these discretionary foods in your healthy diet plan as these are high in kilojoules but low in nutrition value. Such people can restrict themselves to such foods by limiting portion sizes, substituting them with foods from the five food groups and eating mindfully.
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.