Simplified: The Australian Dietary Guidelines

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Every single one of us knows that our bodies rely on food. However there may be some of us who forget that our bodies need a healthy balance of food from different food groups to fuel our body effectively.

Since the first edition in 1982, the Australian Government has created and modified the Australian Dietary Guidelines to the now latest, 4th edition in 2013 to be more up to date and relevant with current research and scientific evidence.

According to the summary:

The Australian Dietary Guidelines (the Guidelines) and the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating provide up-to-date advice about the amounts and kinds of foods that we need to eat for health and wellbeing. The recommendations are based on scientific evidence, developed after looking at good quality research.

                Specifically the guidelines aim to:

  • promote health and wellbeing;
  • reduce the risk of diet-related conditions, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity; and
  • reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some types of cancers

I first learned about the guidelines in high school when I was studying Health and Human Development. We studied the topics of nutrition, vitamins and minerals and the Australian Dietary Guidelines and the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating was incorporated into the curriculum.

Since then I’ve incorporated these guidelines into my daily lifestyle to help inform my dietary choices as well as ensure that I eat great tasting food that will benefit my body. That’s why I’m writing this. Prior to studying VCE, I had no idea that the government developed these documents. So in this blog, I’ll be breaking down the Australian Dietary Guidelines and the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating so that we as individuals, can understand a healthy diet.

Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (AGHE)

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Australian Guide to Healthy Eating

The AGHE is a pie chart that shows the proportions that the different food groups should be consumed in. The chart is based on the 5 food groups:

  • Grain foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties
  • Vegetables and legumes/beans
  • Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans
  • Fruit, and
  • Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduced fat.

From the chart it recommends foods in each food group making it visually easy to understand. Also the AGHE provides explanations on other diet related issues. For example, in the bottom left-hand corner are images of oil that should be used in small amounts. Additionally the bottom right-hand corner depicts alcoholic drinks, junk food, lollies and sweets as foods that should only be consumed occasionally and in small amounts.

This chart is intended to be used by consumers, the general public including you and I, to guide food intake and purchasing.

One of the strengths about this chart is that it shows the proportions of food from each food group an individual should consume each day. However, the AGHE is not perfect as it doesn’t show the required amount of nutrients a person should consume and that it only shows the proportion but not the quantity of how much of each food should be consumed.

For me, this chart is one of the most important documents the government has produced. From a young age, I remember seeing a food pyramid showing what foods are good for me and what was bad. For the kids today, they now have this chart which they can understand from a very young age.

If you would like to download a high resolution pdf file of the chart, click here.

Australian Dietary Guidelines

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Poster for the Australian Dietary Guidelines

The government has also developed the Australian Dietary Guidelines. These guidelines provide general advice on food intake to improve health and wellbeing of all Australians. The guidelines are:

  1. To achieve and maintain a healthy weight, be physically active and choose amounts of nutritious food and drinks to meet your energy needs
  2. Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from the Five Food Groups every day and drink plenty of water
  3. Limit intake of foods containing saturated fat, added salt, added sugars and alcohol
  4. Encourage, support and promote breastfeeding
  5. Care for your food; prepare and store it safely

As you can see the guidelines gives advice on how to live an overall healthy lifestyle by incorporating physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight and looking after food properly. One of the big things to consider when reading the entire document of the Australian Dietary Guidelines is that it is not produced for use by consumers, but by health professionals, policy makers, educators, food manufacturers, food retailers and researchers, so they can find ways to help Australians eat healthy diets.

With that in mind, the guideline document is detailed as it requires some nutrition knowledge. For example ‘limit intake of foods containing saturated fat, added salt, added sugars and alcohol’ requires the individual to know which foods are high in fat and saturated fat. Nevertheless, reading the 5 guidelines without reading the entire document is pretty straight forward for parents to understand.

If you would like to read the summary document, click here.
If you would like to order the publication, follow this link.
If you would like to get a high resolution pdf of the summary poster, click here.


 

We at Living Books know that the government has gone out of their way to inform the Australian public about dietary choices. We as well want to help educate kids and also provide them with resources to help improve their families’ lifestyle choices.

As always, if you have any questions feel free to let us know.

– Nigel

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