Join me as I travel the globe in search of nutrition guidelines!
We begin our journey in Antigua & Barbuda! Antigua & Barbuda have opted for a Food Guide Pineapple which divides foods into 7 groups: starchy foods; vegetables; fruits; food from animals; peas, beans & nuts; fats & oils; sugars and sweeteners.
We now take a short trip to the Bahamas. The Bahamas have chosen a Goat Skin Drum to represent their dietary guidelines. One of the key messages that stands out to me is ‘Choose foods for their nutritional value not for the name brand or cost’. Good advice!
Our next destination is Barbados. Barbados use a map to communicate their dietary guidelines. It is divided into the six Caribbean food groups: staples, vegetables, fruits, legumes, foods from animals and fats and oils.
Watch your step as we disembark in Belize to check out their Food Basket. In the basket you will find staples, vegetables, fruits, legumes, foods from animals, fats and oils, sugars and sweeteners.They encourage a variety of foods in their guidelines – ‘Choose different types of foods from all the food groups daily’.
Next stop is Brazil. This is just one of the many pictures they display in their guidelines. I love that they show you how to create simple, balanced meals. This is practical stuff that people can actually use in their day to day lives. Brilliant! (I must admit I have a massive crush on these guidelines, this is one of my favorite destinations!)
Now over to the Dominican Republic. They use their creativity skills to show their guidelines using The Mortar of Food & Nutrition. The mortar is a staple kitchen tool in the Dominican Republic and a symbol of the country’s cuisine. They encourage people to ‘Eat cereals and starchy foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day to get all the energy you need.’
We are now en route to Grenada and we find another creative way to represent the dietary guidelines. Here we have A Dietary Nutmeg. The nutmeg is cut in half and food groups are represented inside.
Please stow away your tray table as we prepare to land in Guatemala. Here we find The Family Pot. I love that their key messages give a quick, brief explanation such as: ‘Eat eggs, cheese, milk or incaparina three times a week or more, because they are important for children’s growth and your family’s health’ and ‘Eat less margarine, cream, butter, chips and cold meats to take care of your heart and spend less money.’.
We now venture into Honduras. These guys are also using a pot to communicate their guidelines. The pot contains food groups in proportions to how much should be consumed with a spoon that contains foods to eat in moderation.
Next stop is Guyana. Why not display dietary guidelines in a way that people can easily identity with such as a Stew Pot!? Include in your stew staples, vegetables, fruits, legumes, food from animals and fats.
Now we are heading over to find the Food Spinning Top in Venezuela. An important tip they include in their guidline is ‘Manage your money well when buying food.’
Something we have all seen before – The Food Pyramid and this one belongs to Greece. I must say this is one of my favorite guidelines simply because it includes a glass of red wine and encourages people to drink it in moderation. Kudos Greece, kudos.
Over we go to Germany. Here we find a German Nutrition Circle. The circle is divided into food groups with numbers representing the quantity to consume, 1 being eat most 6 eat least and 7 includes water which sits in the middle. An interesting message they promote is ‘Do not overcook your meals’ and they also note the importance of meal times by including ‘Allow plenty of time for eating and enjoy mealtimes’.
We now head up to Denmark. I’m already loving their colorful photos of real food and basic, easy to prepare balanced meals. Showing people images of meals that they can prepare at home, excellent!
As we say goodbye to Denmark we say hello to Thailand. Thailand represent their guidelines on a Nutrition Flag. Thailand aren’t carb-phobes as they encourage people to ‘eat rice, rice products, other grains and starchy food groups in abundance’
Please have your chair upright as we prepare to land in Bangladesh. Here we are greeted with a Food Pyramid. They highlight the importance of iodine in the diet through one of their recommendations – ‘Limit salt intake and condiments and use only iodized salt’. They also have a food plate model showing how to create a balanced, healthy meal – wonderful!
Slap on your sunscreen as we head over to Fiji. Fiji use both a rainbow and a pineapple to display their dietary guidelines. One of my favorite recommendations is to ‘Grow your own food.’
We are now touching down in China. China has a Food Guide Pagoda divided into 5 levels. China encourages people to use their common sense to ‘Logically divide the daily food intake among the three meals, and choose suitable snacks.’
We now move continents to South Africa. South Africa only shows food groups that should be eaten that are necessary for health and do not include groups that should be limited such as salt and processed foods. They also encourage local and affordable foods.
While we are in Africa we will visit Namibia. The Namibia food guide shows only 4 groups – cereals and cereal products; vegetables and fruits; animal source foods and beans; and fats, oils and sugar and encourage people to ‘Eat at least three meals a day’.
As we head back home we are taking a detour via Finland. Here we find a funky looking Food Pyramid and again a practical image of a well balanced meal. Visually this is one of my favorites. They give specific guidelines such as ‘Eat vegetables, fruits and berries frequently (a minimum of 500 g/day, excluding potatoes)’.
Now we make our stopover in Singapore. Singapore use a My Healthy Plate model and remind people to ‘Use My Healthy Plate to achieve a balanced diet that provides all the nutrients you need each day’.
After our whirlwind trip around the world we are back in the land of Aus! Our guidelines were updated in 2013 based on the best scientific evidence and after review of over 55,000 scientific journal articles by a panel of nutrition and medical experts.
So what have we learnt from our travels?
We have learnt that:
– All of the dietary guidelines worldwide recommend a diet that includes all food groups such as fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, dairy, meats, fish, and healthy unstaurated oils in moderation.
– Health guru’s that promote fad and restricted diets think they know more about human health and nutrition than the leading health organisations and nutrition experts around the world.
– While the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating promotes a healthy, balanced diet it may need to do this in a more user friendly, creative way. The guidelines aren’t sexy so they don’t get the hype that fad diets do. So let’s make them sexy, trendy & hip! Lets make them look exciting, lets make them user friendly by showing images of actual real meals that people can cook at home.
– We know how to eat healthy. Worldwide ‘healthy eating’ is pretty much the same with just a few adjustments to suit the culture and people of the nation. Every single one of these guidelines promote the same thing in one way or another – eat plenty of fruit and veg, lots of wholegrians, eat fish, smaller amounts of meat and dairy if you choose to, use unsaturated oils and choose minimally processed foods.
– We don’t need to ban foods. None of the guidelines ban anything. They encourage people to eat more of some things and less of others.
– There is no need to continuously look for new diets or bicker about what diet is best. Universally (the real) experts agree on what constitutes healthy eating.