The Australian Dietary Guidelines explained
Here's how to make sure you're eating a wide variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups.
To fill up your diet with the right balance of nutrients, your first step is to get familiar with the Australian Dietary Guidelines. These official National Health and Medical Research Council recommendations give you a clear snapshot of what you should be eating each day in order to build healthy eating habits at any stage of life.
The latest version of the Australian Dietary Guidelines was released in 2013. The previous guidelines were issued in 2003, and these new ones confirm that what was sound nutrition advice 10 years ago is still very much the case today.
With the revised guidelines now available it is a great opportunity for people to compare their own diet to the recommendations and look at ways they can improve their diet to achieve better health.
Taking a look at the actual consumption of Australians versus recommended consumption, we can quickly see a few areas for improvement.
The following information refers to recommendations for men and women aged between 19 and 50. Visit eatforhealth.gov.au for more details and for guidelines for specific age groups.
1. Vegetables and legumes – 5-6 serves per day
The revised guidelines suggest 5-6 serves of vegetable and legumes/beans per day for women and men aged between 19 and 50. However, the most recent dietary surveys show that consumption in Australia is generally less than half that. Including a salad with your evening meal is a great way to boost your vegetable intake.
2. Fruit – 2 serves per day
Recommended fruit intake for the same group is two pieces per day, yet survey results show that most Australians need to double their intake to meet these guidelines. Be sure to have a well stocked fruit bowl in the kitchen so when you need a snack a piece of fruit is handy.
3. Wholegrains – 6 serves per day
Grains are a mixed bag. Whole grains are very low in consumption whereas refined grain intake, such as cereal, can be reduced by 30%. When choosing bread, cereal, pasta and rice be sure to look for wholegrain varieties.
4. Meat – 2 ½ -3 serves per day
Trends in the meat group lean towards a recommended increase in poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and a reduction in lean red meat for men. Children are encouraged to eat more lean red meat in place of fatty cuts of meat to meet recommendations.
5. Dairy – 2 ½ serves per day
There is also room for improvement in the dairy category, an overall doubling in consumption of milk, yoghurt and cheese products for adults, but halving of higher fat varieties and a four-fold increase of reduced fat varieties. With increased reduced fat dairy options available these should be the first choice for adults.
For more information
While incorporating any change in diet can be challenging, there are plenty of great resources to help make dietary changes to protect your health. Visit eatforhealth.gov.au and view our dietary guidelines video for a snapshot of what you should be including in your daily food intake.
Survey data provided by NH&MRC and Australian Bureau of Statistics – National Nutrition Survey: Foods eaten, Australia 1995 and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Preventative Health National Research Flagship, University of South Australia. 2007 Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey