Australian Dietary Guidelines wash up

By Meeghan, 28 February, 2013

Did you know if you type ‘weight loss’ into a Google search you will receive a staggering 441,000,000 million results in just 0.22 seconds? We now have more information about how to lose weight than ever before and yet as a nation we’re fatter than ever, in fact 60% of adult Australians are overweight or obese.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has just released the latest 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines which are used to advise Australians about the types and amounts of foods needed to maintain a healthy diet and reduce the risk of lifestyle-related disease. There’s not a lot of new information some would say but the guidelines are stronger than ever, given they are based on 55,000 pieces of peer-reviewed scientific research. The best way for me to understand the guidelines is to read what experts in the field are saying and make up my own mind.

The conversation is a good place to start and has invited nutrition experts to respond which is an interesting read. However what I’m most excited about is the first dietary guideline, ‘To achieve and maintain a healthy weight, be physically active…’ The health, nutrition and fitness industries have always debated what’s more important in achieving weight loss - good nutrition or physical activity? But I don’t believe you can separate them. Some think it’s surprising to include physical activity at the top of the Australian dietary guidelines but good nutrition and adequate physical activity go hand in hand. As Rosemary Stanton says, “Some people want to put them against each other and… say ‘physical activity is more important’ or ‘all you need to is diet”. “But both are going to be important.”

Read the key dietary summary guidelines below and visit new dietary guidelines all about balance for more reading.

Dietary Guideline 1

To achieve and maintain a healthy weight, be physically active and choose amounts of nutritious food and drinks to meet your energy needs. Children and adolescents should eat sufficient nutritious foods to grow and develop normally. They should be physically active every day and their growth should be checked regularly. Older people should eat nutritious foods and keep physically active to help maintain muscle strength and a healthy weight.

Dietary Guideline 2

Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from these five groups every day: • Plenty of vegetables, including different types and colours, and legumes/beans • Fruit • Grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties, such as breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley • Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans • Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives, mostly reduced fat (reduced fat milks are not suitable for children under the age of 2 years) And drink plenty of water.

Dietary Guideline 3

a. Limit intake of foods containing saturated fat, added salt, added sugars and alcohol. Limit intake of foods high in saturated fat such as many biscuits, cakes, pastries, pies, processed meats, commercial burgers, pizza, fried foods, potato chips, crisps and other savoury snacks.

  • Replace high fat foods which contain predominantly saturated fats such as butter, cream, cooking margarine, coconut and palm oil with foods which contain predominantly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats such as oils, spreads, nut butters/pastes and avocado.
  • Low fat diets are not suitable for children under the age of 2 years.

b. Limit intake of foods and drinks containing added salt. • Read labels to choose lower sodium options among similar foods. • Do not add salt to foods in cooking or at the table. c. Limit intake of foods and drinks containing added sugars such as confectionary, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and cordials, fruit drinks, vitamin waters, energy and sports drinks. d. If you choose to drink alcohol, limit intake. For women who are pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding, not drinking alcohol is the safest option.

Dietary Guideline 4

Encourage, support and promote breastfeeding.

Dietary Guideline 5

Care for your food; prepare and store it safely.

Source: from the pdf “Australian Dietary Guidelines 2013” on the Eat for Health website
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