The Healthy Eating Pyramid - What it's Really Done for our Health

Enjoying a balanced diet and keeping active every day is common sense, right? Well, at least it is now. Our current understanding of a healthy, balanced diet is, in large part, thanks to Nutrition Australia and their healthy eating pyramid initiative. The concept itself was first developed in Sweden in the 1970's and introduced on our shores in 1980. Along with the Pac-Man arcade game being created, the Rubik's cube becoming the world's most popular toy and the invention of the original Sony Walkman, 1980 was a year of innovation and evolution.

In the Beginning

The very first Australian healthy eating pyramid had four sections. These sections were separated into three categories;

  • Eat More
  • Eat Moderately
  • Eat in Small Amounts

The "Eat More" section focussed on plant based foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, bread, nuts and cereals. The "Eat Moderately" layer featured dairy, meat and alternatives for both. The top two, "Eat in Small Amounts" section included added sugars and added fats.

Its Evolution

As with everything, as time went on, society and our knowledge of all things food and health evolved - so too did the healthy eating pyramid. While the inner workings were changing, the concept remained the same; to encourage people to maintain a balanced diet which reflected the dietary guidelines relevant at the time.

 Reviews and overhauls of the pyramid took place several times over a number of years. Adjustments were made in;

  • 1982
  • 1986
  • 1999
  • 2004
  • And more recently, in 2015

Along with the food aspect of the pyramid, over time, the importance of exercise was also included.

The most recent healthy eating pyramid, released in 2015, was updated based on the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines. The guideline's five core points are;

  • Maintain healthy weight, stay active, eat food in accordance with energy requirements
  • Consume a variety of foods from all 5 food groups each day
  • Limit saturated fats, added salts, added sugars and alcohol
  • Encourage and support breastfeeding
  • Care for and store food safely

When used correctly, the healthy food pyramid is an excellent resource for Australians to access and ensure that both individuals and families are able to maintain the healthiest diet possible. It obviously omits information regarding allergies and is based on the lucky part of the population not burdened with food intolerances. For those of us with intolerances though, this is to be expected as when you or your child have an intolerance, you naturally want to do your own in-depth research into what you can and cannot eat.

Over the 35 years that it has been in existence in Australia, the healthy eating pyramid has stirred up controversy. Some people have claimed that it could be more accurate, that it is misleading, but if used as it is supposed to be used - as a guideline, it can be an incredibly helpful resource for all Australians.

I applaud the creators and the people responsible for the maintenance of the pyramid. Its core aim is to keep Australia fit and healthy and we at Broth of Life support that goal whole heartedly.

 

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