5 lessons from the new Food Pyramid
Everyone knows the decades-old food pyramid, but now it's been given a facelift by the independent organisation, Nutrition Australia.
So what was wrong with the old one? We have updated dietary guidelines (see our rundown of the most recent guidelines), and in the words of Nutrition Australia:
"We want to cut through the misleading information and fad diets that are getting so much attention, and provide Australians with a credible, flexible and realistic guide to eating well."
Here's the pyramid itself (click for a larger version). It includes useful pictures of the best foods to choose.
Here are the five most important lessons of the new pyramid:
1. Cut the carbs
One reason for Australia's obesity problem is the prevalence of processed, calorie-full, carbohydrates in the nation's diet. In this new pyramid, grains have moved up a rung, meaning they're less important as previously thought. If you look at the diagram, you'll notice it also emphasises healthier carbs like whole grains, quinoa, couscous and oats. Switch out white bread, white rice and white pasta for their wholegrain equivalents and you’ll be on the right track.
2. Lift your legume game
Legumes have moved down to the 'foundation level' of the pyramid, joining fruit and vegetables. Remember the rule, "2 serves of fruit, 5 serves of vegetables per day"? Include legumes in the vegetable count. Lentils, beans and chickpeas are tasty examples and are a great accompaniment to most dishes. Plus, they're a great source of protein.
3. Ditch the sugar
Sugar used to be lonely at top of the pyramid, but now it’s been taken off altogether, replaced by healthy fats. What's wrong with too much sugar? Weight gain, a risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, bad teeth and some cancers are a few possible consequences. Sugar is fine in your fruit but cut down on the lollies, chocolate and soft drinks, and avoid heaping it in your cereal or coffee. Learn more tips about it.
4. Swap salt for spice
Like sugar, salt doesn't earn a place on the pyramid. Too much salt, Nutrition Australia says, is linked to "increased risk of high blood pressure, which can increase your risk of cardiovascular (heart) and kidney disease." Instead, garnish your dishes with herbs and spices, a much healthier and tastier way to add flavour to your meals.
5. Pick smart proteins
Don't assume protein only comes from meat. Eggs, nuts, seeds, and legumes are all rich sources, so don't neglect them in your diet. When buying meat, the pyramid emphasises leaner cuts, poultry and fish over the fattier varieties.
These rules themselves aren't too complicated—the difficult part is making meaningful improvements to your diet. Head over to our recipes page for some healthy ideas, and get on the right track. And don't forget to drink more water - find out all of its benefits.
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