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Cereal and breads, potatoes, pasta and rice

Wholemeal cereal and breads, potatoes, pasta and rice

Starchy foods like cereal, breads, potatoes, pasta and rice are rich in vitamins and minerals. They are a good source of fibre and are the best energy providers for your body.

High-fibre versions are best: they keep your gut healthy and will keep you going for longer between meals.

  • Choose brown rice, wholemeal pasta and wholegrain bread instead of white
  • Wholegrain breakfast cereals like porridge are a great start to the day
  • Baked potatoes eaten with their skins are delicious – and great for fibre too

Potatoes, bread, rice and pasta are naturally low in fat – until we add fats like butter and cheese.  Go easy on these extras to keep these foods low-fat.

How much should I eat? 

  • Most people need three to five portions a day
  • Teenage boys and men aged 19-50 may need up to seven
  • Very active people, such as athletes, will need even more

What is a portion?

  • 1 cup of cooked rice, pasta, noodles or cous cous
  • 2 medium or 4 small potatoes
  • 1 cup yam or plantain
  • 2 thin slices wholemeal bread
  • 1 ½ slices wholemeal soda bread
  • 1 pitta pocket
  • ⅓ cup dry porridge oats
  • ½ cup unsweetened muesli
  • 1 cup flaked breakfast cereal

Tips to get enough starchy foods

  • At breakfast: Start the day with an energy-giving starchy food like wholemeal toast, porridge or a healthy wholegrain breakfast cereal
  • At lunch: Try out different types of breads - rolls, wraps, pita or sliced bread – and go for wholegrain breads as often as you can
  • At dinner: Base your meal on a starchy food like potatoes, rice, pasta or bread


Fibre is found in plant foods including starchy foods, beans and pulses, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. It is an important part of a healthy diet. It prevents constipation and helps maintain a healthy gut. Getting enough fibre also lowers your risk of heart disease, diabetes and weight gain. However most of us need to eat more fibre.

How much fibre?

Here is an example of how you might get fibre into your diet throughout the day

  • Breakfast: Bowl of porridge with a handful of berries
  • Lunch: Baked potato with beans and salad
  • Dinner: Chilli con carne with brown rice
  • Snack: Apple, crackers with peanut butter

How can I eat more fibre?

  • Choose wholemeal or wholegrain varieties of bread, cereals, pasta and rice
  • Eat vegetables and salad. Have some with lunch and dinner. Try vegetable soup at lunch or if you are short of time, frozen vegetables are just as good.
  • Eat fruit. Try to have 2-3 portions of fruit each day. Slice a banana on your cereal, slice some fruit into your salad or enjoy as a snack.
  • Eat whole fruit instead of drinking juice
  • Eat potato skins. Most of a potato's fibre is in its skin. Try baked, boiled or jacket potatoes with their skins.  Baby potatoes are also a good choice. Remember to wash skins and peels before eating or cooking.
  • Add peas, beans and lentils. Add to soup, salads, stews and casseroles.
  • Add seeds. Sprinkle them on cereal, yoghurts, salad or in your homemade bread.
  • Dried fruit and nuts. These are high in fibre but can have a lot of calories. A small handful of raisins or nuts as a snack is plenty.
  • Check the label, choose foods with more than 6g of fibre per 100g
  • Drink water. You need water so fibre can work properly. Try to drink 8 glasses of fluids each day. Water and milk are best.
  • Take it slowly. It is normal to feel some bloating and to pass a little more wind when you first start to add in more fibre to your daily diet. This is normal and will settle down in a week or two. It may help to gradually increase fibre in your diet over a period of a few weeks.


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