Department of Health & Human Services
Premiers Active April

Get back to basics with the Healthy Eating Pyramid

If you want to improve your health through good food in 2017, the Healthy Eating Pyramid is your simple and flexible guide to a balanced diet without rules or restriction.

The Healthy Eating Pyramid shows the five core food groups, plus healthy fats, according to how much they contribute to a balanced diet. It’s based on the Australian Government’s 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines.

Nutrition Australia’s Healthy Eating Pyramid has been around for over 30 years. And while it’s had a few facelifts in that time, the core messages about how to have a healthy diet remain the same:

1.     Enjoy a variety of foods from the five food groups

The 5 food groups are:

activeapril-news-healthypyramidVegetables – The average Australian only eats half of their recommended 5 serves a day, so look for new ways to eat more veg each day!

Fruit – We only need two pieces a day, and there’s so much variety to choose from!

Grain foods – provide carbohydrates for energy, fibre for healthy digestion, and many other important nutrients. Despite getting some bad publicity in recent years, eating whole grains can actually support a heathy heart, and can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Choose mostly whole grains like wheat, brown rice, oats and quinoa, and wholemeal/wholegrain/high fibre varieties of bread, pasta, and cereal.

Lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts seeds and legumes – are a key source of protein, and contain many other nutrients, like iodine, iron, zinc, B12 vitamins and healthy fats. Make sure you get a variety of meat and non-meat items from this food group each day.

Milk, yoghurt and cheese (and alternatives) – provide calcium, protein and 8 other essential nutrients. Most people need just one extra serve a day to get enough. If you don’t eat dairy look for alternatives fortified with at least 100g of calcium per 100ml.

2.     Choose mostly plant-based foods

The plant-based food groups (fruit, grains, vegetables) should make up around ¾ of what you eat each day. An easy way to achieve this is to make sure each meal or snack is made of ½–¾ plant foods.

Plant foods provide a variety of vitamins, minerals and fibre, as well as antioxidants and phytonutrients – fancy names for substances that can protect our body’s cells from damage and disease.

They also give fruit and vegetables their radiant colour, so eat a rainbow of fruit and veg every day to maximise your nutritional benefits.

3.     Limit added saturated fats, sugar and salt

On average, over 1/3 of the kilojoules we consume each day come from ‘junk foods’ that are high in added saturated fat, salt and sugar. This includes biscuits, cakes and slices, lollies and chocolate, take away foods, sugary drinks and alcohol.

So see where you can cut back on these things, to make room in your day for more filling and nutritious foods from the five food groups.

Active April Nutrition Australia News4.     Choose water as your main drink

Water is an essential nutrient and has many functions in the body, including helping transport oxygen and nutrients in the blood, helping digestion, and supporting brain function. In fact our brains are 75% water, and symptoms of dehydration include tiredness, headaches, confusion and mood swings.

Stay hydrated by having a glass of water first thing in the morning, and sipping regularly throughout the day. Choose water over sugary drinks, and if you’re drinking alcohol, have a glass of water between drinks to stay hydrated and feel well.

For more information about the Healthy Eating Pyramid, and the recommended intakes from each food group, visit

For more great healthy eating tips and delicious recipes visit the Nutrition Australia website.


Last updated: February 24, 2017 at: 10:15 am

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