As a Nutritionist I talk about the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating and the Dietary Guidelines quiet often. These guidelines, produced by the government’s NHMRC, were revised and revamped in 2013 to produce the image below (left) which graphically represents a dietary pattern that supports good health and wellbeing as based on an extensive review of top quality scientific literature.
In the past I have noticed some confusion around the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (previous and past versions), in comparison to Nutrition Australia’s Healthy Living Pyramid (image below right). Unlike the NHMRC, Nutrition Australia in a non-government organisation who similarly uses scientific research to develop and deliver a range of nutrition focused resources, services and programs across Australia.
Following the release of the revised 2013 Australian Guide to Healthy Eating the Healthy Living Pyramid is also set for review and is expected to be released in January 2015. (1)
Ultimately the key principles of these two dietary models is very similar; eat plenty of plant based foods such as vegetables, legumes, fruits, cereals and grains (preferably whole grains); eat moderate amounts of animal based foods, such as meat, fish, chicken, eggs milk, cheese, yoghurt or calcium rich alternatives; and limit processed foods. Added fats such as butter, margarine and oils should also be used in small amounts.
The key differences, beyond simply that they were produced by different organisations and graphically look different, is that the Healthy Living Pyramid doesn’t specifically categorise food into food groups as the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating does. I think you could quite reasonably argue for or against either approach, but I do personally like the idea of moving away from the food group classification system which is based on grouping nutrients and focusing more simply on whole foods. The Healthy Living Pyramid also emphasises the importance of being physically active.
The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating and the Healthy Living Pyramid are not in competition with each other but rather complementary so if you prefer to model your diet from one compared to the other, go for it.
Nikki is a PhD qualified Nutritionist and an expert in children's eating.