Frequently Asked Questions

Healthy Eating PyramidOn this page:

 

What is the Healthy Eating Pyramid?

The Healthy Eating Pyramid is Nutrition Australia’s iconic food selection model, and has been around for over 35 years.

It is a simple visual guide to the types and proportion of foods that we should eat every day for good health.

The Healthy Eating Pyramid depicts the five core food groups, plus healthy fats, as the foundation of a balanced diet based on the Australian Dietary Guidelines (2013).

Read more about the Healthy Eating Pyramid here.

 

Is the Healthy Eating Pyramid for everyone?

The Healthy Eating Pyramid provides general advice for most Australians on the types and proportions of foods to consume in a balanced diet.

The layers of the Pyramid are based on the recommended food intake for 19–50 year olds according to the Australian Dietary Guidelines (2013). However the proportions and placement of each food group are generally applicable to all age groups from 1–70 years.

Click here for further information on the Australian Dietary Guidelines.

 

Why was the Healthy Eating Pyramid created?

Nutrition Australia first introduced the Healthy Eating Pyramid in the 1980s as a simple, visual guide to a balanced diet using a ‘more to less’ concept.

Since then the Pyramid has continued to evolve always with the same aim: to encourage Australians to eat a varied and balanced diet in line with current dietary guidelines.

A brief history of the Healthy Eating Pyramid.

 

Why did you update the Healthy Eating Pyramid?

The Pyramid went under review last year following the release of the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines, to ensure the images and messages were in line with the current dietary advice for the Australian population.

Read more about the review and what's changed here.

 

Does the Healthy Eating Pyramid replace the Australian Dietary Guidelines or Australian Guide to Healthy Eating?

Not at all. The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating is a food selection guide which accompanies the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines.

The Healthy Eating Pyramid aims to convey the key information about how to have a nutritious diet, based on the Australian Dietary Guidelines. It does not replace the Guidelines, nor tailored advice from an Accredited Practising Dietitian.

Read more about the Australian Dietary Guidelines or Australian Guide to Healthy Eating here.

 

Is the new Healthy Eating Pyramid a new diet/new guidelines?

The new-look Healthy Eating Pyramid is not a new diet nor is it radically new advice on healthy eating.

It aims to convey the key messages from the new Australian Dietary Guidelines (2013), and while some technical aspects of the guidelines have changed, the core advice of the Pyramid remains similar:

  • Enjoy a variety of foods from the five core food groups
  • Choose mostly plant-based foods
  • Limit foods high in saturated fats, salt and added sugar
  • Choose water as your main drink

Nutrition Australia’s previous Pyramid separated foods into three main layers:

  • The bottom ‘Eat More’ layer contained all plant-based foods: fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, grains, bread and cereals.
  • The ‘Eat Moderately’ layer contained dairy foods (and dairy alternatives) and meat (and meat alternatives)
  • And the ‘Eat in small amounts’ layer section contained added fats and sugar.

The new Pyramid maintains the original messages above, but has separated each layer into the five specific food groups, to provide clearer information about how much each one contributes to a balanced diet.

See Updating the Pyramid for more information about what's changed.

 

How much should I eat from each food group?

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend the number of ‘standard serves’ we should aim to eat from each food group, each day.

The recommended intakes have been developed to provide an adequate amount of energy and nutrients for each and gender.

Click here to see the recommended intakes.

For advice on feeding infants under 2 years of age, see the Infant Feeding Guidelines for Healthcare Workers, or download the brochure 'Giving your baby the best start' (PDF).

 

Is this the same Pyramid I learnt about in school?

Most likely! There are many Pyramids, or triangle-shaped food selection models around, but Nutrition Australia’s iconic Pyramid has been around for over 35 years, to convey current dietary guidelines and key messages about a balanced diet.

While the look of the Pyramid has continually evolved, the key information about healthy eating has remained consistent:

  • Enjoy a variety of foods from the five core food groups
  • Choose mostly plant-based foods
  • Limit foods high in saturated fats, salt and added sugar
  • Choose water as your main drink

Take a look at A brief history of the Pyramid and see if you recognise any of our previous designs!

 

Why does the grain food group have its own layer?

Nutrition Australia’s previous Pyramid separated foods into three main layers:

  • The large ‘Eat More’ layer contained all plant-based foods: fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, grains, bread and cereals.
  • The ‘Eat Moderately’ layer contained dairy, meat and protein-rich foods like eggs and legumes.
  • And the ‘Eat in Small Amounts’ layer contained added fats and sugar.

The new Healthy Eating Pyramid separates each layer into the five specific food groups, to provide clearer information about how much each group contributes to a balanced diet.

Plant-based foods are the foundation of the Pyramid, with fruit, vegetables and legumes emphasised in the very bottom layer, followed by grain foods.

Together these three plant-based food groups still make up the largest portion of the Pyramid, because they make up the largest portion of a healthy diet – around 70%.

The proportions and placement of each food group are based on the recommended intakes for each food group in the Australian Dietary Guidelines (2013).

 

Why are legumes and beans in two food groups?

Legumes are classified as both a vegetable and a protein food, in the official Australian Dietary Guidelines.

Legumes and beans are very nutritious and diverse foods. They are technically plants, and provide vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and fibre in the same way that vegetables do.

But they are also a good source of protein, like the other the foods in the 'lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds' food group.

Legumes and beans can be an especially important part of a vegetarian or vegan diet to provide protein from non-animal sources.

Click here for more information on the food groups according to the Australian Dietary Guidelines.

 

Can vegans and vegetarians follow the Healthy Eating Pyramid?

People who choose not to eat meat, poultry and fish can still enjoy plenty of other foods in the ‘lean meat and alternatives’ food group, especially tofu, eggs and legumes, which are high in protein.

Vegans do not eat any animal products, including dairy foods and eggs. This can limit the range of foods available to them and they may have difficulty meeting their nutrition requirements without careful diet planning and possibly some supplementation (e.g., vitamin B12).

We recommend that people who are following a vegan or vegetarian diet seek advice from an Accredited Practising Dietitian who will provide support and education to identify foods and eating patterns that will help them to meet their nutrition requirements.

Click here to find an Accredited Practising Dietitian in your area.

Note: Strict vegan diets are not recommended for young children and babies. For more information see the Vegetarian diets and children fact sheet from the Better Health Channel

Visit Eat For Health (the website of the Australian Dietary Guidelines) for more information about the variety of foods available to choose within each food group.

 

I’m a teacher, can I use the Healthy Eating Pyramid in my classroom?

The Healthy Eating Pyramid is based on the Australian Dietary Guidelines (2013), so it’s a great companion tool to use alongside the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating for teaching up to date key nutrition messages in the classroom.

The Pyramid is colourful and visual and uses a simple ‘more to less’ concept which can be beneficial for young children, culturally and linguistically diverse communities and/or people with lower English literacy.

Buy Healthy Eating Pyramid posters or magnets here.

 

I’m an author, can I reproduce the Healthy Eating Pyramid in my publication?

We'd love to hear from you! Click here for further information on applying for permission to reproduce Nutrition Australia’s intellectual property.

 

Share this page