Understanding: Food Categories

Jan 2020

This list of basic food group categories is something that I have given to all my clients for years and years. I believe it is very helpful to remind ourselves of what is a protein, what is a healthy fat, what is a carbohydrate etc. (especially if you haven’t read Chapter 3 of Nourish & Glow: The 10-day Plan, which covers this in lots of detail). 

Salmon Soba Noodle Salad Recipe

I know it all might seem rather simple, but I like to start from the beginning with my clients, as I often find that the sheer amount of noise and confusion ‘out there’ around nutrition and healthy eating means it is a good idea to build sensible, balanced knowledge of nutrition up from scratch.

You’ll note that some foods will span categories (there are carbohydrates in pulses, for example), but I try to keep things as simple as possible whenever I can, so this is the classification that I use. Of course, it is not a comprehensive list – there are thousands of different ingredients, so feel free to tweak things around, add extra items or take away those you don’t personally like. I hope it is a helpful place for some of you to start from.

So, in case it might be helpful to any of you lovely readers, here is my super-simple reminder of various different food categories and what comes within them:

Understanding food categories article





ALL DAIRY goats, sheep’s, cows – yoghurt, cheese, milk, butter

NUTS raw and unsalted

SEEDS pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, flax, chia, hemp

PULSES lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, butter beans, peas

Understanding: Food Categories Article



VEGETABLES especially root vegetables

GRAINS quinoa, whole oats, buckwheat, brown rice, millet, amaranth

BREAD rye, sourdough – only if ok with gluten

PASTA brown rice, or whole-wheat if ok with gluten

POTATOES regular or sweet

(Pastries, Cakes, Biscuits, Sweets)

Understanding: Food Categories Articles

Healthy Fats

OILY FISH wild salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines & herring

NUTS, SEEDS oils, nut or seed “butters”



Understanding: Food Categories Articles


GREEN Leafy vegetables, broccoli, courgettes, salad, cucumber etc.

RED Peppers, tomatoes, beetroot, plums, onions, radishes etc.

PURPLE Berries, aubergine, cherries, figs, purple cabbage etc.

YELLOW Corn, lemon, banana, peppers, pineapple etc.

ORANGE Carrots, mango, pumpkin, tangerines, oranges etc.

WIHITE / BROWN Mushrooms, onions, garlic, cauliflower etc.

Understanding: Food Categories Articles

Natural Flavours

ACV Apple cider vinegar

LEMON juice or zest

LIME juice or zest

PEPPER Fresh black pepper

FRSH HERBS just tear them up and throw them on – everything tastes better with a few leaves of basil or some torn chives

DRIED HERBS a little sprinkle here and there

FRESH CHILLI remove the seeds and finely chop

FRESH GINGER scrape the skin off with a teaspoon and chop or grate



Please note that the information on this website is provided for general information only, it should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional providing personalised nutrition or lifestyle advice. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider.

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