The Department of Health keeps dietary recommendations under review as part of its role in promoting evidence based public health. As part of this review, the new Healthy Food for Life – the Healthy Eating Guidelines and Food Pyramid have been developed by the Department working in partnership with other experts in nutrition in Ireland.
Healthy Food for Life is a toolkit which includes a new Food Pyramid and guidance materials to help people makes choices to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. The resources reflect best national and international evidence and advice. The guidance applies for everyone from 5 years of age upwards.
The three key messages are:
It is a visual representation of how different foods and drinks contribute towards a healthy balanced diet. The Food Pyramid allows individuals the flexibility to choose foods and drinks from each shelf depending on their food preferences. It organises foods and drinks into 5 main shelves, starting from the most important shelf on the bottom.
Shelf 1. Vegetables, Salad and Fruit (at least 5 to 7 servings a day). Base your meals on these and enjoy a variety of colours. More is better. Limit fruit juice to unsweetened, once a day.
Shelf 2. Wholemeal Cereals and Breads, Potatoes, Pasta and Rice (3–5 servings a day, up to 7 for teenage boys and men age 19–50). Wholemeal and wholegrain cereals are best. Enjoy at each meal.
Shelf 3. Milk, Yogurt and Cheese (3 servings a day and 5 from the age of 9 to 18) Choose reduced-fat or low-fat varieties. Choose low fat milk and yogurt more often than cheese. Enjoy cheese in small amounts.
Shelf 4. Meat, Poultry, Fish, Eggs, Beans and Nuts (2 servings a day) Choose lean meat, poultry (without skin) and fish. Eat oily fish up to twice a week. Choose eggs, beans and nuts. Limit processed salty meats such as sausages, bacon and ham.
Shelf 5. Fats, Spreads and Oils (In very small amounts) Use as little as possible. Choose mono or polyunsaturated reduced fat or light spreads. Choose rapeseed, olive, canola, sunflower or corn oils. Limit mayonnaise, coleslaw and salad dressings as they also contain oil. Always cook with as little fat or oil as possible – grilling, oven-baking, steaming, boiling or stir-frying.
The revised Food Pyramid separates the Top Shelf from the rest of the pyramid. The Top Shelf includes foods and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt. These are not needed for good health and should not be consumed every day. Very small amounts once or twice a week maximum is sufficient.
The Food Pyramid provides guidance for adults, teenagers and children aged five and over.
Use the Food Pyramid to plan your daily food choices. The Food Pyramid shows how much of
what you eat overall should come from each shelf to achieve a healthy, balanced diet. The shape of the Food Pyramid shows the types of foods and drinks people need to eat most for healthy eating. It is divided into six shelves and each provides you with the range of nutrients and energy needed for good
health. Healthy eating is all about choosing the right amounts from each shelf.
Following the Food Pyramid doesn’t mean that you need to achieve balance with every meal, but aim to get the balance right over the day and over the week. Small changes can make a big difference.
The Food Pyramid is supported by a large range of other materials to help convey the key messages for anybody that is interested. These include some sample Food Pyramid to Daily Meal Plans which you can download (pdf format) by clicking any of the following links:
We have developed a number of fact sheets/guides to help explain some important information in the Food Pyramid. Download them here in pdf format.
Your Guide to:
For printed copies of the Food Pyramid please visit http://www.healthpromotion.ie/ or contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any queries.
New Nutritional Standards for School Meals were jointly launched on the 25th September 2017 by the Minister for Health, the Minister for Education and Skills and the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection. These will ensure the programme follows the national Healthy Eating Guidelines.
The introduction of the new nutrition standards means that only healthy food choices that meet the Standards will be funded for breakfast clubs, school lunches and snacks, afterschool clubs and school dinners.
The School Meals programme, which has a budget of almost €50 million, benefits almost 250,000 children across Ireland, with priority being given to those schools in the DEIS programme.
The Standards outline healthy and balanced choices for each meal or snack, which align with the revised food pyramid and guidelines. They state that certain foods and drinks high in fat, salt and sugar should be not be offered to children and will not be funded. The Standards also emphasise that milk and water are the best drinks to serve children.
Click here for more information.
Click here for the Department of Health Press Release for the launch.
The Consumer Council for Northern Ireland, in association with the Food Standards Agency and safefood, have created food shopping tips, meal planners and leaflets to assist consumers in shopping confidently and healthily. Click here for more information.
Where everyone can enjoy physical and mental health and wellbeing to their full potential, and where wellbeing is valued and supported at every level of society and is everyone's responsibility.
© Department of Health