Did they get it right?
Its certainly a step in the right direction, however it is quite surprising it has taken 15 years for this makeover to take place! But better late than never!
The old pyramid certainly navigated us into the obesity crisis, where 65% of Australian adults and 25% of children are obese!
Quite a few much needed changes have been made to Nutrition Australia’s food pyramid, but are these changes good enough?
Lets take a look at the changes that have been made, and also look at how it could be improved further.
What changes have been made
- The most noticeable change is that instead of 3 tiers there are now 5 core food groups.
- Removing junk food, such as sugar and margarine.
- More vegies and less grains.
- Differentiation between fruit and vegetables.
- Adding fashionable food items, such as; soy products, quinoa and soba noodles.
- Healthy fats.
Now… lets take a look at this pyramid section by section, and analyse how the it could be further improved.
- Its great to see so many vegetables and fruits in the bottom tier! Its not so good to see there is still a tendency to recommend packaged foods, such lentils and beans in the tins. IIt is best to prepare those foods at home, as they need long soaking times to get rid of the anti-nutrients to make them more digestible – a preparation step that is missing when you buy pre-packaged bean products that may leave you a bit bloated. In addition, it would be a great message to the public to promote only whole foods and stress the importance of acquiring life skills such as cooking.
- While its good that the choice of grains are more fibrous and generally more brown, but there still seems to be a slight tendency towards nutritionally depleted processed grain products, such as commercial cereals, white pasta, white rice that aren’t good for you. Improvements to this section could be made by promoting other types of whole grains instead of packaged wheat products. We all over-consume wheat in Australia, its worth to point out that our wheat is higher in gluten, and isn’t the easiest to digest. Hence we have so many people with gluten intolerance!
- One of the main problems with this pyramid would be that there is still a very high carbohydrate content (about of 70% of total energy intake) within the recommended diet. Which still can lead to unbalance ratio between Carbohydrate : Protein : Fat. I would suggest that there should be more proteins and less grains. Swapping these 2 sections around would represent a more accurate example of what a balanced and healthy diet should look like.
- I am not very impressed to see that soy products such as soy milk and tofu have been included, as these are a problematic foods; unfermented soy products are some of the hardest foods to digest, and irritate the digestive system. They are also high in Phytoestrogens, that acts as female hormone oestrogen in the body and its not recommended to everyone, especially not to children, males and women of reproductive age. Nut milks and nut flours are much better option as a replacement for dairy for those who are dairy intolerant.
- While it is fantastic to see sugar and junk food eliminated here, the new healthy fats section is quite limited in representation. It doesn’t specify other healthy fats, beside olive oil. What about coconut oil, or ghee? Could these be a part of the healthy diet? Mono saturated fats such as olive oil are extremely healthy but lets not forget about other traditional fats, that humans consumed for generations, there is nothing wrong with these.
All in all, its good to see some much needed improvement to the very outdated pyramid! Though, I would not say that the new pyramid is ideal yet. It would be great to see higher consumption of proteins and fats, as this pyramid somehow still represents the old dogma ‘low fat’ and that meat is not so good for you.
Above all lets not forget that it is also wise to pay attention to your unique constitution, age, sex, lifestyle, blood group, cultural background and the seasons! As no diet is right for everyone.
What are your thoughts on the new pyramid ? Share it with us in the comment section bellow.