For the last couple of years, nutrition writing has been dominated by unrealistic, faddish ideas like raw food, paleo diets and “eating clean”. An army of glassy-eyed skeleton people had the colour photoshopped back in their cheeks to appear in magazines, clutching bowls of buckwheat gruel and promising that we’d live to be 150 if only we could bring ourselves to restrict our diets to kale and chia seeds.
Shamefully we believed them, even as these charlatans went on to spend their riches on blue cheese and filet mignon like every other rich person. The result was misery for many true believers, because there is a limit to how much you can enjoy life when you spend your days posting images of your post-gym soy smoothie on Instagram.

Well, throw those goji berries in the bin, because, scientists from the prestigious Findus Institute have published new research that indicates that, far from being as unhealthy as previously believed, heavily processed food should in fact be an essential component of our daily nutrition. Their new proposals call for all adults to consume artificial flavours and food colourings as part of a balanced diet – i.e. a side order of salad and chips. They even reassessed the benefits of many vintage snacks from the recent past. We suggest you print out the following guide, stick it up in your kitchen and run as fast as you can if you see Jamie Oliver coming for you holding a parsnip.

Key food group: crisps and corn snacks
Rich in essential salts, grease and monosodium glutamate, adults are recommended to consume at least one portion of crunchy snacks daily, more if expending extra calories by watching something stressful on telly. Just as other nutritionists recommended returning to historic grains such as bulgar wheat and quinoa, scientists are urgently calling for Smith’s Crispy Tubes, Flavour & Shake and Tangy Toms to be returned to production. Until that time, it is recommended to help growing children with regular servings of Space Raiders and Monster Munch. Remember: it is dangerous to become deficient in pickled onion flavour, Scampi Fries are practically a serving of fish, and Twiglets contain fibre.

Key food group: fizzy liquids
Once thought to rot your teeth and promote hyperactivity, new studies conducted under the aegis of the PepsiCo fellowship show that carbonated drinks are actually delicious and refreshing. This is equally true whether they are “premium” brands like Coca Cola and Irn Bru, or value equivalents such as Panda Pops and the eastern European cherryade sold in pound shops. Although still drinks like Tip Top and Um Bongo do contain essential sugars, parents are suggested to opt for those that are most luridly coloured, and if in doubt ensure that children consume at least one Coke float a week, more if they’ve been good. 

Key food group: grains and cereals
Breakfast is both the most important meal of the day, and the cornerstone of any diet. Sadly, our hectic lifestyles mean that too many of us skip the opportunity to consume puffed rice and strawberry marshmallows, and make up for this deficiency later in the day with extra coffee. There’s really no excuse – experts from Kellogg’s say that if we just took two minutes to heat up a Pop Tart, our day would be off to a much better start. Many parents mistakenly believe that a cereal is only healthy if it contains multigrains – if this worries you a good solution is to serve children a fun, yet nutritious, combination of Frosties (corn) and Sugar Puffs (wheat). 

Key food group: frozen items (sweet)

It has long been understood that warm weather carries with it the risk that humans can become sad and uncomfortable if not administered with frozen dairy produce, or at the very least a combination of vegetable fats and refined sugar. What was less widely known is the role that frozen treats play in year-round mood maintenance. In order to stave off attacks of the blues, doctors now say that families should stock up on Arctic Roll, Mr Freeze ice pops and Cornettos. If frozen goodness is needed on an emergency basis, administration of a Slush Puppy is recommended – this is the nutritional equal of a raw food protein shake in that it provides the body with servings of sugar, artificial food colouring and the all-important refreshing, slurpy coldness.

Key food group: frozen items (salty)
Remember that the freezer is not just for ice-cream, this essential family friend can also serve as a healthy storehouse containing curry, pizza, batter-coated potato products and a variety of breaded chicken shapes. The important thing to bear in mind about freezer-based nutrition is the “three colour rule” – your frozen meal is only nutritionally complete if brown items are offset with other colours, such as red sauce, mushy peas and yellow mayonnaise. Pizza is already one of your two recommended portions of vegetables a day, so why not go for a hole in one by topping your Margherita with some baked beans or a couple of potato waffles?

Key food group: sweet shop items
The traditional British sweet shop has never fully recovered from the targeted propaganda campaign conducted by dentists and broccoli farmers, but in today’s more enlightened age this institution is showing the first lurid green shoots of recovery. Of course, sweeties remain something that should only be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet – no nutrition expert would recommend that anybody survive more than a day or two solely on Wham Bars and Liquorice Allsorts. This is because the goodness in sweeties is so concentrated, you are much better off spacing your daily consumption of Fireball Gobstoppers, Tootie Frooties and Nerds in-between meals that are less fun. Otherwise you might get too much energy in you and realise that brown bread is an EU plot – shh, keep it secret!

Key food group items: tinned meat products and preserved foods
Not every family is lucky enough to own a freezer full of wholesome doner kebab pizzas, Wall’s Neapolitan Ice Cream and Turkey Twizzlers, but this doesn’t mean that their children will go to school miserable because they had to eat courgettes for breakfast. Tinned foods helped Britain win two world wars, and if Spam is good enough to feed a nation who stood up to Hitler then it’s good enough to include in every hot meal served in your household. Remember that old doctor’s advice – “pink things are healthy” – and if you need a bit of variety on the plate then there are other lovely foods that come in tins, such as corned beef, preserved peas, and hot dogs. If you fancy something a bit exotic on a Friday night then why not take a trip to the mysterious, mouth-watering orient via the Pot Noodle express? All aboard!