The Healthy Living Pyramid

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The Healthy Living Pyramid (HLP) was developed to provide a simple guide to planning the types of foods we should eat and in what proportions different foods should be consumed. The pyramid represents food from the core food groups only. That is, it shows meat, fish, chicken, eggs, nuts, bread, cereals, vegetables, legumes, fruit, milk, etc. We all know though that during meals we do not eat core food groups alone - we combine several of them together to create a meal.  For example, we mix meat with vegetables to make a stew or casserole, eggs with milk and sugar to make custard or flour with oil, cheese, vegetables and meat to make a pizza. Although the pyramid can’t show all possible food combinations, mixing foods and adding herbs and spices to create appealing flavours can help us enjoy foods in the variety needed whilst keeping to the proportions outlined in the Pyramid

The Healthy Living Pyramid encourages food variety and a diet of minimum fat, adequate fibre, limited salt and sufficient water that is balanced with physical activity. The ‘Move More' base of the Pyramid shows moving legs to remind us that physical activity is an essential part of the energy balance equation that should be combined with healthy eating. 

The Layers of the Pyramid – from the bottom up

Move More

Every time we move we use up some of the kilojoules (or calories) that are in the food that we eat. The kilojoules that we do not use up will be stored and changed to fat. ‘Move more’ reminds us that we need to balance the energy (kilojoules) that we take in with the energy we use. We eat daily so we need to be active daily.

Eat Most

This base layer of food includes only plant foods: vegetables, fruits, nuts, dried peas, beans and lentils, breads and cereals (preferably wholegrain). These foods contain many different nutrients and should make up the bulk of the food we eat. Eating a variety of these foods each day should provide good amounts of energy from carbohydrate, as well as protein, minerals, vitamins and dietary fibre. In other words these foods are nutrient dense (each food contains a lot of nutrients for each kilojoule that it provides).
Alongside the base, the symbol of a running tap is present to encourage water consumption. Six to eight glasses each day is the recommendation. Smaller children need about 4-5 glasses of water daily.

Eat Moderately

Foods in the middle of the Pyramid include fish, lean meat, eggs, chicken (no skin), milk, cheese and yoghurt. Eating a serving of meat, fish or eggs and three servings of dairy foods each day will provide protein, minerals (especially iron and calcium) and B vitamins.

Eat in Small Amounts

Sugars and fats are in this layer. These foods should be limited because they lack a good supply of the nutrients needed for growth, good health and quick energy. While small amounts of fats, oils and sugar are acceptable, larger amounts of these foods will cause an inadequately varied food intake. When choosing fats and oils it is better to choose the ones that have low levels of saturated fat and higher levels of omega -3 fats. The Pyramid also suggests that salt should not be added to foods.
Choosing a wide variety of foods the HLP way, helps us to consume all the nutrients and other food compounds that are needed for good health. When serving a meal, the ‘Eat Most’ foods should take up most of the plate, the ‘Eat Moderately’ foods should take up a third or less of the plate, and there should be very little of the ‘Eat in Small Amounts’ foods present. The HLP does not state how many servings of each food we should have or the serving sizes required, but it does give an idea of the balance of foods we need to choose for good health.
Remember, in order to maintain body weight, food eaten (energy in) always needs to be balanced with physical activity (energy out).
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