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Australia's New Healthy Eating Pyramid

Posted by Rita Texeira on 3 June 2015
Australia's New Healthy Eating Pyramid
As you have no doubt heard, we finally have a new Healthy Eating Pyramid that more closely reflects our modern day diet and what we know about health and nutrition. 

Last updated over 20 years ago, the new Healthy Eating Pyramid is a reflection of the most recent Australian dietary evidence-based guidelines after a large study of over 55,000 research papers.

What is the Healthy Eating Pyramid?

The original Food Pyramid was introduced in Sweden around 1974 when as a way to introduce nutritious and supplemental foods that were affordable for everyday consumers after food prices soared. 

Divided into basic food groups, the base of the pyramid included staples such as milk, margarine and cheese, and bread, cereals and potatoes. Next came vegetables and fruit and at the apex of the pyramid, meat, fish and eggs.

In 1980, Nutrition Australia presented their first Food Pyramid, based on the same 'more to less' ideas developed in Sweden.  Over time, it has been modified and updated to encourage Australians to eat a balanced diet according to what was considered healthy at that time.

Why a new Healthy Eating Pyramid?

With the growing prevalence of fast food outlets and restaurants and overscheduled, fast-paced lifestyles, it has become convenient for Australians to embrace takeaways, sugars and fatty foods.

As a result, 65% of Australian adults 18 and over considered overweight and of that number, 25% of are considered severely obese. Even more alarming is that every fourth child is overweight.

Without a conscious change to our health and eating habits to decrease these alarming statistics, a heavy burden will be placed on our health system and economy, not to mention our quality of life will decrease.

What are the changes?

Although varied over time, previous Healthy Eating Pyramids showed a much larger proportion of fats, oils and sugar, with threetiered food groups.  However, the new Healthy Food Pyramid has five clearly defined food groups and sugar has been removed. 

In the new Healthy Eating Pyramid, plant-based foods including fruits, vegetables and legumes take up the bottom, largest layer with whole grains appearing on the second largest tier.

The third tier includes milk, yoghurt, cheese and dairy alternatives, alongside lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds. Lastly, the fourth tier includes only healthy fats.

Unlike previous pyramids, sugar is excluded with a side note to limit added salt and sugar. Instead, we are encouraged to embrace the use of herbs and spices to flavour our food and to 'choose water' instead of sugary or caffeinated drinks.

Some 'modern' food additions include tofu and soba noodles, as well as soy milk and quinoa that have recently become more popular.

You can view and read more about the new food pyramid at Nutrition Australia.

So what are your thoughts? Do you like the new Healthy Eating Pyramid and will you be making any changes to you diet as a result?

Author: Rita Texeira
Tags: Nutrition Healthy Eating Health

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