Historically, we’ve all been looking at food pyramid diagrams, quietly sponsored by various industry groups – take the Irish National Dairy councils’ version here. There’s now a move towards using Food Plate diagrams instead, but there’s still a push from industry groups to influence their content. These diagrams of the various food groups often have several disadvantages, namely:
- They don’t distinguish between fruit and vegetables. 5 portions of fruit a day could amount to a high sugar intake
- They don’t take into account glycaemic load – how much your blood sugar will rise after eating
- There mightn’t be any difference shown between wholegrain and refined grain products, which often have nutrients stripped out
- May be a focus on low-fat, with a premise that all fats are bad which isn’t the case. Foods that are labelled low-fat are often high-sugar
- Dairy in the diet is often shown to be essential for calcium intake, again not the case. Other foods such as spinach, broccoli and tofu are great sources of calcium, without the calorific intake of many dairy products
From a daily health perspective and in dealing with any kind of chronic illness, it can only be a wise decision to educate ourselves on not just what is in our food, but what we should actually be eating in the first place and in what quantities. So what are we meant to eat?
The International Alliance for Natural Health has devised a food plate diagram (devoid of industry influence!), which is a good place to start:
You can read more about the Food4Health Guidelines here, a very useful healthy eating resource. The Alliance for Natural Health website is also a great resource that promotes natural and sustainable approaches to healthcare – highly recommend having a read.