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NSW Department of Education and Communities

Curriculum support for NSW Public Schools

Australian guide to healthy eating

The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating is Australia’s new food selection guide. It is the official food selection guide of the Commonwealth Department of Health and Family Services. The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating is a visual representation of the Dietary Guidelines for Australians and it replaces the “old” 5 food groups.

Aim of the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating
The aim is to encourage the consumption of a variety of foods from each of the food groups every day in proportions that are consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Australians.

Main messages of the guide
· Enjoy food. Eating should be an enjoyable experience.
· Eat a variety of foods every day. This means eating foods from each of the food groups.
· Some foods should be eaten only occasionally or in small amounts.
· Drink plenty of water.

What is different about this new guide?
· The food groups have changed. Foods are grouped according to the main nutrient they contain. Fruits and vegetables are now two separate food groups and there is no fat group. Fats (eg oils/ margarines) are depicted outside the circle.
· The guide is a new shape. It is a circle or has been described as a plate.
· Water is included on the guide.
· There is no serve size information on the guide itself. The size of each segment represents the proportion of that food group that is recommended for a healthy diet.

The segments of the circle.
Each segment represents a food group. The size of each segment represents the proportion of that food group that is recommended for a healthy diet.
This can translate to the following recommendations:
· Eat most of breads, cereals rice, pasta, noodles, legumes, vegetables and fruit groups.
· Eat moderate amounts of animal foods (eg milk, cheese yoghurt, meat, fish, poultry, eggs).

Why are some foods outside the circle?
Some foods are included in the section outside of the circle “Choose these sometimes or in small amounts”.

There are two distinct groups (divided by the text and change in background colour). The margarine and oils are separate as they provide essential fats and oils, but should only be eaten in small amounts.

In contrast, the foods below the text (e.g. biscuits, chocolate, soft drink, chips) are not essential and they are high in energy. This makes it easier to consume a higher than necessary energy intake. These foods contain large amounts of sugar, saturated fat and/or salt, all of which are linked to health problems.

Why is water shown on the guide?
Water is included to reinforce that water is an ideal drink, which quenches thirst. For good health, adults need to drink at least eight glasses of water every day.

Teachers should encourage students to drink water during the day, particularly when playing games or sport and allow regular drink breaks, particularly on a hot day.

Why are certain foods selected?
The foods included in the guide reflect commonly eaten foods in Australia, including foods from different cultures. The foods depicted were selected to represent a group of foods. For example, carrots represent all orange vegetables, frozen peas represent all frozen vegetables.

Why do certain foods appear twice on the guide?
Some foods appear twice in the guide in fresh and canned/frozen or packaged form (e.g. corn, fish). These foods are not twice as important but are shown in different forms to indicate that canned, frozen and packaged foods are healthy alternatives to the fresh product. You may notice that legumes are placed in two food groups. They are a vegetable and also a good source of protein particularly for vegetarians – not because they should be eaten twice as much.

Ordering the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating

The following materials are available on order:
· An A4 and A1 size colour poster of the guide.
· A leaflet containing a brief outline of the guide.
· An A5 booklet which covers the information on the guide and healthy eating for the general public.
· An A4 size book for educators. This covers background information, serve sizes and resources to allow educators to use the guide.

Copies of all the materials listed are available free of charge from:
Public Health Division
Commonwealth Department of Health and Family Services
GPO Box 9848
Canberra ACT 2601
Phone: (02) 6289 8654 or 1800 020 103, ask for extension 8654
Fax: (02) 6289 8360

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