The Department of Health keeps dietary recommendations under review as part of its role in promoting evidence based public health. As part of this review, the new Healthy Food for Life – the Healthy Eating Guidelines and Food Pyramid have been developed by the Department working in partnership with other experts in nutrition in Ireland.
Healthy Food for Life is a toolkit which includes a new Food Pyramid and guidance materials to help people makes choices to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. The resources reflect best national and international evidence and advice. The guidance applies for everyone from 5 years of age upwards.
Diabetes Ireland welcomes the new guidelines and updated food pyramid, and especially the examples of meal plans for typical Irish people which help demonstrate how to use the guidelines in a practical way. The key messages for healthy eating are as follows:
- Limit high fat, sugar and salt foods from the top shelf of the Pyramid to no more than once or twice a week – with suggested serving no more than 100 calories (small un-iced bun, ½ bar chocolate, 2 plain biscuits, 1 scoop ice-cream)
- Eat more fruit and vegetables, at least 5 to 7 servings a day – aim for half your plate at each mealtime, and have a piece of fruit as a snack if hungry between meals
Portions of starchy carbohydrate vary depending on a person’s age, size, activity level, and gender. 3-5 portions are suggested daily, with a variety of foods recommended. 1 serving = 1/3 cup dry oats, 1 cup of cooked pasta/rice, 2 thin slices of bread.
Use the Pyramid as a guide for serving sizes and remember that the Pyramid to Sample Food Plans outlined on http://www.healthyireland.ie/health-initiatives/heg/ are based on a person’s age, size, activity levels, gender and other factors such as breastfeeding or whether or not a person needs to lose weight. These food plans also help to highlight how much food can be consumed when energy-dense (high-calorie) foods are avoided.
Why not compare the suggested measurements to how you usually eat and see how your portions fare.
Following the Food Pyramid doesn’t mean that you need to achieve balance with every meal, but aim to get the balance right over the day and over the week. Small changes can make a big difference.
For examples of meal plans, and a more detailed version of the food pyramid please see http://www.healthyireland.ie/health-initiatives/heg/