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  • 1. Department of Health and AgeingNational Health and Medical Research Council
  • 2. ISBN 1864961171 (print) 1864962240 (online)This work is copyright under the Copyright Act 1968. It may be reproduced in wholeor part for study or training purposes subject to the inclusion of an acknowledgmentof the source and no commercial use or sale. Reproduction for purposes other thanindicated above requires the written permission of the Manager, Legislative Services,Ausinfo, GPO Box 84, Canberra ACT 2601.Reprinted May 2005 Materials including a poster, booklet and brochure for the general public and nutrition educators are available by contacting the Population Health Publications Officer, Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing on toll free 1800 020 103 extension 8654 or at email: phd.publications@health.gov.au The Australian dietary guidelines and Food for Health information can also be found on the internet at http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/publications/nhome.htm Reliable information about food, nutrition and health is also available from: • Nutrition Australia — www.nutritionaustralia.org • Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) — www.daa.asn.au • Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) — www.foodstandards.gov.au who also produce The official shopper’s guide to food additives and labels: know what you are eating at a glance (published by Murdoch) • Local community health centres • Commonwealth, State and Territory departments of health • Baby, child and youth health centres • Accredited practising dietitians in private practice (look in the yellow pages) or in hospitals and community centres • National Heart Foundation of Australia — www.heartfoundation.com.au • Diabetes Australia — www.diabetesaustralia.com.auDesign by Clarus Design, Canberra
  • 3. ContentsDietary Guidelines for Australians . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2Dietary Guidelines for Australian Adults . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents in Australia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5Prevent excess weight gain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8Eat plenty of vegetables, legumes and fruits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12Eat plenty of cereals, preferably wholegrain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14Include lean meats, fish, poultry and/or alternatives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15Include milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16Drink plenty of water . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17Limit saturated fats and moderate total fat intake . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18Choose foods low in salt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19Limit your alcohol intake if you choose to drink . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20Consume only moderate amounts of sugars and foods containing added sugars . . . . . . . . . 21Care for your food; prepare and store it safely . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22Encourage and support breastfeeding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
  • 4. The Dietary Guidelinesfor AustraliansNutritious foods and an active lifestyle can help achieve good healththroughout life. This booklet outlines the Dietary Guidelines for Australianswhich have been developed by food and nutrition experts on behalf of theNational Health and Medical Research Council and the CommonwealthDepartment of Health and Ageing.The Dietary Guidelines highlight the groups of foods and lifestyle patternsthat promote good nutrition and health. No guideline is more importantthan another. Each guideline deals with a key health issue and is like a pieceof a puzzle. This guide will help you put the pieces of the puzzle together.Nutritional needs differ at different stages of life and these are reflected inthe Dietary Guidelines. For the newborn, there is no better food than breastmilk. Older children need a balance of foods to ensure good growth anddevelopment. The scales are tilted differently for adults who often needto balance eating and physical activity to prevent weight gain. For bothchildren and adults, some principles always remain the same – the need toensure that food is handled well and safe to eat and to enjoy a wide varietyof nutritious foods.The Dietary Guidelines for Australians are your bestguide to food, nutrition and health. The guidelines forAdults and for Children and Adolescents are shownon the following pages. They have many things incommon but children and adolescents do have somespecial needs.Most Australians have access to a wide variety ofnutritious foods and enough money to buy them. Asa result, we typically enjoy a fairly good standard ofnutritional health, but some of us are less fortunate.The health of Australians living in rural areas is poorerthan that of people in the cities. Also, rural Aboriginaland Torres Strait Islander peoples often face greaternutritional challenges than those of other Australians.People in remote areas can pay up to half as muchagain for basic healthy foods than people living inurban and metropolitan areas. Some reasons forthis include higher costs of transport, higher storeoverheads and greater spoilage of foods.2
  • 5. The wide variety of foods enjoyed in the cities is just not available in manyremote communities. But even in some urban areas, healthy fresh foods maydrop off the daily menu for those who are unemployed, have little money ormany mouths to feed.Does healthy eating cost more ?While some nutritious foods can be more expensive, there are plenty ofhealthy food choices that are available without changing the family’s budget.Wholemeal bread, breakfast cereals, rice, pasta and vegetables and fruit inseason – foods that should form the foundation of the diet – are not highcost foods. When diets are rearranged to allow for more of these foods, theoverall costs can come down.Is healthy eating sustainable?Although the world currently has enough food to feed its people, theproduction of food is placing strain on the environment in a number ofways. The sustainability of food production and intake is becoming anincreasingly important issue. Can we continue to use the water and soil theway we do now for growing food ?The new Dietary Guidelines for Australians promote a sustainable eatingpattern. In the future, the guidelines may evolve and change to account forsystems which prove to be non-sustainable in the long-term. In Australia,this may well be driven by water use. Australians are the highest per capitausers of water in the world and most of this is used to produce our food.
  • 6. Dietary Guidelines forAustralian Adults Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods • Eat plenty of vegetables, legumes and fruits • Eat plenty of cereals (including breads, rice, pasta and noodles), preferably wholegrain • Include lean meat, fish, poultry and/or alternatives • Include milks, yoghurts, cheeses and/or alternatives. Reduced-fat varieties should be chosen, where possible • Drink plenty of water and take care to: • Limit saturated fat and moderate total fat intake • Choose foods low in salt • Limit your alcohol intake if you choose to drink • Consume only moderate amounts of sugars and foods containing added sugars Prevent weight gain: be physically active and eat according to your energy needs Care for your food: prepare and store it safely Encourage and support breastfeeding4
  • 7. Dietary Guidelines for Childrenand Adolescents in Australia Encourage and support breastfeeding Children and adolescents need sufficient nutritious foods to grow and develop normally • Growth should be checked regularly for young children • Physical activity is important for all children and adolescents Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods Children and adolescents should be encouraged to: • Eat plenty of vegetables, legumes and fruits • Eat plenty of cereals (including breads, rice, pasta and noodles), preferably wholegrain • Include lean meat, fish, poultry and/or alternatives • Include milks, yoghurts, cheese and/or alternatives. Reduced-fat milks are not suitable for young children under 2 years, because of their high energy needs, but reduced-fat varieties should be encouraged for older children and adolescents • Choose water as a drink. Alcohol is not recommended for children and care should be taken to: • Limit saturated fat and moderate total fat intake. Low-fat diets are not suitable for infants • Choose foods low in salt • Consume only moderate amounts of sugars and foods containing added sugars Care for your child’s food: prepare and store it safely
  • 8. Prevent excess weight gainThere has been a dramatic increase in the number of overweight childrenand adults in Australia over the last 20 years. Surveys suggest that Australiansare becoming less active but eating more. Preventing excess weight gain isthus one of the greatest health challenges we face in the 21st century. Weall know how hard it is to loose those extra kilo’s, once they’ve appeared.For children and adolescents we need to ensure adequate food intake fornormal growth, without overdoing it.Does being overweight affect my health?Carrying too much fat can be a strain on the body. Blood pressure and thelevel of fats in the blood may go up increasing risk of heart disease or stroke.These lead to an increase in the risk of heart disease and stroke. The chanceof developing certain types of diabetes is markedly increased later in life.Pains in the lower back and arthritis are more common and the risk of somecancers is increased. If we can prevent excess weight gain in childhood andin adulthood, we can reduce our risk of many of these health problems.Why are we getting fatter?Each day of our lives our bodies take on fuel through the food we eat. Weconstantly burn this fuel over the day as we move about. The more wemove, the more fuel we burn. If, at the end of a day, the body has fuel leftover it is stored as fat – body weight increases a little. On the other hand, if Food Activitywe burn off more fuel than we have taken on board, the body will use up Food Activitysome of its stored fat – body weight falls a little.When body weight is stable the balance of food intake and physical activityis close to perfect (Figure 1) and we will prevent excess weight gain. If weight Figure 1. Weight stable.is increasing the system is out of balance (Figure 2). This may be as a result ofeating too much food, doing to little physical activity, or both.So why are Australians getting fatter? It is probably a combination of bothless activity and more food. No doubt we are less active than we used tobe. Hard, physical labour is a thing of the past for most people. Much of ourwork and leisure time is spent looking at a computer or television screen. Too littleThe large variety of foods and drinks available today are part of the problem activitytoo. Many foods are high in kilojoules (food energy) and low in fibre and Too much Too little food activitywater content. We call these foods energy dense foods. Sugary drinks havealso become increasingly popular. Foods and drinks are now very tasty Too much foodand portion sizes have increased. From surveys in Australia we know thatpeople’s energy intakes are also increasing. For example over the decadefrom the mid ‘80s till the mid ‘90s, adolescents increased their energy intakesby more than 10%. It is easy to eat too much. Figure 2. Weight increases.6
  • 9. Preventing excess weight gainThere is no secret to preventing excess weight gain. It’sa matter of finding the balance between food intakeand physical activity. The best approach is to makepermanent changes to both food and activity habits.Be active every dayIncreasing physical activity burns fuel – burns fat. Theamount of fat burned off will depend on two things- how often you are active and for how long. Aim tobe active every day. Put together at least 30 minutes ofmoderate physical activity on most, preferably all, days.The best kind of physical activity is the one you like themost. Many people find walking easy and enjoyable.Also, try to be active in everyday life. Small amounts ofactivity, just moving about rather than sitting, all add upat the end of the day.Eat smartNot putting too much fuel in your body is vital to getting thebalance right. The guide to eating a variety of nutritious foods (page8) is a good place to start when planning your meals. Needless to say,keep the amounts you eat (portions) moderate in size. Green andyellow and orange vegetables are the exception to the rule. Eat as dietarymuch of these as you can - they are filling yet low in kilojoules. guidelinesPay special attention to the advice about fats (page 18), alcohol Adults(page 20) and sugar (page 21). Fats are the richest source of u Prevent weight gain: bekilojoules. Moderating the amount of fat in your meals will help limit physically active and eatyour fuel intake. Remember that some commercial foods labelled according to your energy needs.“low fat” sometimes have about the same kilojoules as their non-low Children adolescentsfat equivalent. Read the labels. Focus on cutting down on the not-so- u Children and adolescents needhealthy saturated fats. Use the healthy fats in moderation. Eat plenty sufficient nutritious foods toof fruits and vegetables - they are rich in nutrients, fibre and water, grow and develop normally.but low in kilojoules. u Growth should be checkedDrinks are important. Sugary soft drinks, fruit drinks and cordials regularly for young children.contain lots of kilojoules but are not as filling as solid foods and are u Physical activity is important foreasy to overconsume. Alcoholic drinks can increase appetite. Sugary all children and adolescents.and alcoholic drinks are sometimes called ‘empty kilojoules’ – theyprovide plenty of fuel without many essential nutrients to go withthem. Consider alternatives to sugary soft drinks such as water or‘diet’ soft drinks. 7
  • 10. Enjoy a wide variety ofnutritious foodsFoods come in all shapes and sizes and may be of animal or plant origin. InAustralia, we also have many different cultures, all with their own cuisines.Whichever style of eating we choose, we need choose our foods with careso we obtain all the nutrients we need whilst enjoying the experience of ourdiverse food supply. It is not surprising that each food has a unique group ofnutrients and often something special to offer.• Wholegrain cereals are rich in B vitamins and fibre.• Fruit and vegetables contain vitamin C and folate.• Dairy foods are the best source of calcium.• Red meats are rich in iron and zinc.• Fish is an excellent source of omega 3 fats.• Nuts and vegetable oils are rich in essential fatty acids and vitamin E.Each food plays a roleNone of these foods can do the job alone. Young babies can thrive on asingle food, breast milk, but the rest of us need to eat a wide variety ofnutritious foods to ensure our needs are met. Every food has a contributionto make – a small part to play in good nutrition, health and wellbeing.The amount and variety of foods available in Australia are more thanadequate to meet the nutritional needs of everyone no matter what culturalbackground they come from or what style of cooking they enjoy or prefer. dietaryYet many people have problems getting the balance right. There are many guidelineswho, for one reason or another, do not consume a sufficient variety of foods Adults, children adolescentsto meet their nutritional needs. Even more of us fall down on the other side u Enjoy a wide variety ofof the equation, eating too much of the foods our bodies need least such as nutritious foods.those high in saturated fat, salt, sugar and kilojoules.Eating a variety of foods does not mean eating everything in sight. Thiswould be the fast track to putting on weight. In a land where food is soabundant it is important to keep portion sizes smallQuality and quantityThe key is to enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods. We may need to eatless of some foods on our current menu in order to make room for thehealthy foods our bodies need.The following pages will guide you in selecting nutritious foods for good health.8
  • 11. 9
  • 12. Enjoy a wide variety ofnutritious foodsHow many serves of these foods should we eat on average each day?This depends a little on your body size and activity level but aim for the following: Ce cludin Le t s Ex Ve Fru Mi an tra kes, p (in nu (eg rea g b g lk, it et a me egum ca ls fo o i e s , yo ble at, ds soft gh l s, l fis s ur rea h, eg t, c d e um po s, r he ice dri u es es e ltr ,p nk y, ast s, l a, n oll ie s oo etc dle ) s) Children teenagers 4–7 years 5–7 2 1 2 ½ 1–2 8–11 years 6–9 3 1 2 1 1–2 12–18 years 5–11 4 3 3 1 1–3 Women 19–60 years 4–9 5 2 2 1 0–2½ 60+ years 4–7 5 2 2 1 0–2 Pregnant 4–6 5–6 4 2 1½ 0–2½ Breast feeding 5–7 7 5 2 2 0–2½ Men 19–60 years 6–12 5 2 2 1 0–3 60+ years 4–9 5 2 2 1 0–2½10
  • 13. What is a serve? Here are some examples Cereals, breads etc 2 slices of bread 1 medium bread roll 1 cup cooked rice, pasta, noodles 1 cup porridge 1 cup breakfast cereal flakes or ½ cup muesli Vegetables and legumes (choose a variety) Starchy vegetables 1 medium potato or yam ½ medium sweet potato 1 medium parsnip Dark green leafy vegetables ½ cup cabbage, spinach, silverbeet, brocolli, cauliflower or brussels sprouts Legumes and other vegetables 1 cup lettuce or salad vegetables ½ cup broad beans, lentils, peas, green beans, zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes, capsicum, cucumber, sweetcorn, turnips, swede, sprouts, celery, eggplant etc Fruit 1 piece medium sized fruit eg apple, orange, mango, mandarin, banana, pear, peach etc 2 pieces of smaller fruit eg apricots, kiwi fruit, plums, figs About 8 strawberries 1 cup diced pieces or canned fruit ½ cup fruit juice ¼ medium melon (rockmelon, honeydew) Dried fruit eg 4 dried apricots 1½ tablespoons sultanas About 20 grapes or cherries Milks, yoghurt, cheese alternatives 250 ml glass or one cup of milk (can be fresh, longlife or reconstituted milk) ½ cup evaporated milk 40g (2 slices) of cheese 250ml (1 cup custard) 200g (1 small carton) of yoghurt, plain or fruit, or, as an alternative try: a cup of calcium-fortified soy milk 1 cup almonds ½ cup pink salmon with bones Meat, fish, poultry alternatives 65-100gm cooked meat or chicken (eg ½ cup mince, 2 small chops or 2 slices roast meat) 80-120g cooked fish fillet, or, as an alternative try: 2 small eggs ⅓ cup cooked (dried) beans, lentils, chick peas, split peas or canned beans 1/3 cup peanuts or almonds Extras Foods which we can occasionally include for variety. They are generally higher in fat and/or sugar, kilojoules, salt etc 1 medium piece of plain cake or 1 bun 3-4 sweet biscuits Half a chocolate bar 60g jam, honey (1 tablespoon) 30g potato crisps Slice pizza = 2 extras 1 can soft drink or 2 glasses cordial 2 scoops icecream 1 meat pie or pasty = 3 extras 2 standard glasses of alcohol (for adults only) 11
  • 14. Eat plenty of vegetables,legumes and fruitsVegetables, legumes and fruits have a very special role to play in our dailydiet. They are the protective foods. Together with nuts and seeds theynot only provide us with many of the essential nutrients our bodies needfrom day to day, they also protect us against the ageing process. The wordlegumes includes lentils, beans and peas.As we get older our bodies can start to show some wear and tear. Bloodpressure can increase; the blood vessels that feed the heart with vitaloxygen can start to become blocked with cholesterol; some people maydevelop diabetes, cataracts in their eyes or even get cancer. Eating plentyof vegetables, legumes and fruits and including some nuts and seedsthroughout life, can help to protect against these common problems. Thishas been shown in many scientific studies from around the world.Plant foods such as vegetables, legumes and fruitare protective foodsNutritionists are still learning about the various ways these foods protect thebody. The potassium and magnesium in fruits and vegetables appear to be healthycrucial to controlling blood pressure. Folate may provide protection against tipsheart disease. The essential fatty acids in nuts may play a role too. Vitamin u Enjoy a variety of yellow,C and other antioxidant substances may be vital to the health of the eyes. green and red vegetables,Antioxidants help “mop-up” some potentially harmful substances produced both salad and cooked.in the body as we break down our food to produce energy. u Eat at least five serves of vegetables a day.The goodness of vegetables may be lessened or increased by cooking, u Eat at least two pieces ofdepending on the nutrient. So, it’s a good idea to include both cooked and fresh fruit each day.salad vegetables in your daily meals. Stir frying, microwaving or steaming u Try nuts as a snack.are ideal ways to cook vegetables. Try not to boil vegetables for too long assome nutrients and flavour will be lost into the water. Frozen vegetables arealso a good alternative and canned vegetables are also useful at times butlook for lower salt varieties.Although fruits are enjoyable foods to eat, many people simply forget aboutthem. A full fruit bowl at home and at work would be a good reminder.Nuts are important too. They are very rich in nutrients and are a healthybetween-meal snack. Legumes were something of a forgotten food but arenow finding their way back into our meals. Bean curd and tofu are also madefrom legumes.12
  • 15. Is vegetarianism healthy?Plant foods are important, protective foods. This, however, does not meanthat plant foods alone will make your daily diet a healthy one. Variety isessential to good nutrition. A balanced vegetarian diet can be healthy butthere are several nutrients which are found mainly or only in animal foods.These include vitamin B12, iron, zinc, calcium and some omega 3 fats. Careneeds to be taken if you restrict animal foods in your diet.VegansVegetarians who choose to eat no foods of animal origin (vegans) face thegreatest nutritional challenges. The most important of all is to meet thebody’s need for vitamin B12. This essential nutrient is only found in animalfoods. An Australian study found two-thirds of strict vegetarians had lowlevels of vitamin B12 in their blood. Vitamin B12 deficiency can be a real risk.Eating vitamin B12-fortified foods or taking supplements is recommendedfor all vegans. dietaryCare needs to be taken if you guidelinesrestrict animal foods in your diet. Adults, children adolescents u Eat plenty of vegetables, legumes and fruits.The omega 3 fats found in fish are not found in common plant foods.These fats have a number of health benefits, particularly for heart function.As a result, strict vegetarians have low levels of these nutrients in theirbodies. Vegetarians who avoid milk should also consider calcium-fortifiedsoy beverages or calcium supplements. Protein needs can be met throughlegumes, nuts and cereals.Lacto-vegetariansIncluding dairy foods in a plant-based diet solves the vitamin B12 problem.Also, dairy foods are the best source of calcium, which overcomes another ofthe nutritional shortcomings of a vegan diet.Other challenges remain. Not eating meat removes the major source ofiron and zinc from daily meals. Iron is of particular concern. Although ironis present in plant foods, it is less well absorbed than that from meats.Legumes, nuts and cereals are important sources of iron for people whochoose not to eat meat. Eating fruits or fruit juices at the same meal willprovide some vitamin C to assist iron absorption. 1
  • 16. Eat plenty of cereals,preferably wholegrainCereals are one of the most important foods. These simple grains are eatenin large amounts and provide half the energy and half the protein eaten bypeople around the globe. Not surprisingly, cereals form the foundation of healthyour daily meals. tipsThe cereal grains include wheat, maize (corn), rice, barley, sorghum, oats, u Switch from white bread torye and millet. In Australia cereal grains are used to make popular foods like wholemeal bread.breakfast cereals, bread, pasta, noodles and rice. Other cereal foods include u Eat wholegrain cereal forflour, semolina, polenta, couscous and burgul. breakfast. u Include a variety of cerealCereals play an important role in meeting the body’s need for nutrients. They foods in your meals such asare excellent sources of B-group vitamins and contain useful amounts of pasta, noodles, rice, couscousvitamin E, essential fatty acids and minerals. They also provide dietary fibre. and polenta. u Eat at least four to five serves of cereal foods a day. ActiveWhat are wholegrains? men may need up to twice this amount.The most nutritious cereal foods are ‘wholegrain’. These are made usingall three parts of the cereal grain - the starchy core, the germ and thebran. Examples include high fibre breakfast cereals, wholemeal breads andcrispbreads, oatmeal, brown rice, wholemeal pasta and popcorn. High fibrewhite breads contain more fibre than ordinary white bread but still do notgenerally have as many vitamins and minerals as wholegrain.About one-third of our dietary fibre intake comes from cereals, especiallywholegrains. Fibre plays a vital role in keeping us ‘regular’. Including plentyof wholegrain foods and cereal fibre in your daily meals is a good way toprevent constipation and may reduce the risk of other bowel problems suchas diverticular disease and bowel cancerSeveral recent scientific studies have suggested wholegrains may helpprevent coronary heart disease and, perhaps, diabetes - major healthproblems in Australia today. Wholegrains are key protective foods in ourdaily diet. dietary guidelines Adults, children adolescents u Eat plenty of cereals (including breads, rice, pasta and noodles), preferably wholegrain.14
  • 17. Include lean meats, fish,poultry and/or alternativesBeef, lamb, pork, fish, poultry, eggs, shellfish, nuts and legumes are a variedgroup of foods with one thing in common – they are all excellent sources ofprotein. The major role they play in our daily diet, however, is as a source of iron. healthy tipsIron deficiency is a significant health problem in Australia. Too little iron indaily meals and high demands at certain stages of life can lead to low iron u Enjoy lean red meat three orstores in the body and even anaemia. Tiredness, reduced ability at work four times each week.and less resistance to infection may result. Low iron intakes are common in u Choose lean cuts of meatyoung women and vegetarians. rather than sausages and processed meats. u Try to eat one or two fishBest sources of iron meals a week.The best source of iron in the diet is red meat such as beef and lamb. Porkand chicken contain moderate amounts of iron and fish less again. Iron frommeats and fish is particularly well absorbed into the body. Some plant foodsalso contain iron but it is in a different form and less well absorbed. Includingmeat in a meal with plant foods actually increases the absorption of ironfrom the plant foods.Iron deficiency is a significanthealth problem dietaryRed meats are also rich in zinc, another nutrient in short supply in theAustralian diet. Again, zinc is better absorbed into the body from meat than guidelinesplant foods. All meats, poultry, fish, shellfish and eggs are excellent sources of Adults, children adolescentsvitamin B12, a nutrient not found in plant foods. Vitamin B12 has a special u Include lean meats, fish,role in protecting our DNA. Fish and seafood are also the richest sources of poultry and/or alternatives.omega 3 fats. These omega 3 fats help protect the health of the heart.Choose lean meatsLean meats, trimmed of fat, are the best choices. Meat fat is high in saturatedfats – the type that raises cholesterol. Sausages and luncheon meats tend tobe high in fat. For people who choose not to eat meat, protein is availablefrom legumes, cereals, nuts and seeds (see pages 12, 13, 14). These foods,however, are relatively low in available iron and zinc so other food sourcessuch as wholegrain cereals need to be increased. Additional vitamin B12sources are also needed. 1
  • 18. Include milk, yoghurt, cheeseand/or alternativesMilk, yoghurts and cheeses are part of the dairy food category. Milk is oneof the most complete of all foods. It contains most of the nutrients ourbodies need. Dairy foods are a good source of protein, vitamin A and someB vitamins but their most unique contribution is as a source of calcium.The calcium in dairy foods is also well absorbed into the body compared toother plant sources.Calcium and bone healthCalcium is vital for the health of our bones throughout life. Physical activityis also of great importance in the development and maintenance of strong healthybones. During childhood and the teenage years bones grow longer andstronger. A constant supply of calcium is required to build healthy bones tipsin this time of high demand. Older bodies require extra calcium too. From u Use low-fat dairy foods at twoabout middle age our bones begin to slowly weaken. This gradual bone loss or more meals each day.can be slowed by a high calcium intake from dairy foods. As a result, the u Low-fat milk and yoghurt arechance of breaking a bone can be reduced. excellent choices. u Be moderate with full fat cheeses.Dairy foods are the best sourceof calcium, by farCalcium does not work alone in fostering good bone health. It works with dietaryvitamin D, which helps to absorb calcium into the body. Vitamin D can be guidelinesmade in the body by the action of sunlight on the skin or can be found infoods such as margarines, fatty fish, such as tuna or salmon, and eggs. Adults, children adolescents u Include milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives.Is low-fat best? AdultsYes. Dairy fat is high in saturated fats, which can raise blood cholesterol and u Reduced fat varieties shouldincrease the risk of heart disease. Try to limit foods rich in dairy fat such as be chosen where possible.butter, cream, ice cream and full-fat cheeses. The best dairy foods to include Children adolescentsin your meals are low and reduced-fat milks and yoghurts. These still contain u Reduced fat milks are notcalcium and other nutrients, but with less saturated fat. Cheeses can be added suitable for young childrenfor variety but don’t overdo it. There are reduced fat cheeses available but under 2 years because of theirsome soft, white low fat cheeses like cottage cheese, have very little calcium. high energy needs. u Reduced fat varieties shouldFortified soy milk, sardines and some nuts are fair sources of calcium for be encouraged for olderpeople who choose not to eat dairy foods. children and adolescents.16
  • 19. Drink plenty of waterWater is essential for life. We can do without some nutrients for weeks, evenmonths, but a few days without water is life-threatening. Water makes upabout two-thirds of our body weight. We need it to absorb nutrients fromfood, transport them around the body and flush away our waste products.Through perspiration the body uses water to lower body temperature whenthe weather is warm.Regular drinks replace water lost from the body during the day. In a mildclimate an average person needs to drink about a litre and a half of fluidseach day. In hotter parts of Australia much more may be needed to preventthe body becoming dehydrated.Risks of dehydrationDrinking too little fluid can lead to dehydration. In the short-term this maycause physical and mental tiredness. In the long-term, low fluid intake canincrease the risk of developing kidney stones. For those people who have dietaryhad kidney stones in the past, increasing fluid intake will help prevent themcoming back. Scientific studies also indicate that plenty of fluid can help guidelinesprotect against cancer of the urinary tract – in the bladder, prostate and Adultskidney. Tap water is also a good source of fluoride for strong teeth and bones. u Drink plenty of water.Young children and elderly people are more at risk of dehydration. Also, with Children adolescentsincreasing age, the sensation of thirst becomes weaker and people may drink u Choose water as a drink.less than they should.Choosing drinksWater Milk: Tea/coffee: Energy drinks:The best, cheapest and Low or reduced-fat milks are Do contain some antiox-idants Soft drinks plus caffeinesafest drink. Water provides good sources of fluid - rich (especially tea) but also contain – similar to a strong cup ofthe fluid we need, without in nutrients yet lower in caffeine, which is a stimulant. coffee. Not recommended forthe added kilojoules or saturated fat and kilojoules Any added sugar means added regular consumption.caffeine found in many other than full-fat milk. Soy milks kilojoules. Enjoy in moderation. Alcohol:drinks. Tap water also gives are a suitable alternative Soft drinks: Increases loss of waterus fluoride which helps in but should be fortified with High in kilojoules when from the body. Also ‘emptydevelopment of strong teeth calcium and vitamin B12. sweetened with sugar kilojoules’. Not recommendedand bones. Bottled water Fruit juice: - ‘empty kilojoules’. Not as a source of fluid.does not usually have good Good source of fluid and recommended for regularlevels of fluoride. some vitamins. Contains consumption. ‘Diet’ soft kilojoules, so enjoy in drinks are an alternative to moderation. add some variety. 17
  • 20. Limit saturated fats andmoderate total fat intakeDifferent types of fats are found in different foods. Fats may be solid orliquid. Fats may be easy to see, such as butter, margarine, vegetable oils andthe fat on meat, or hidden away in nuts, avocados, biscuits, cakes, pastries,snack foods and many take-away foods.In some ways fats are all the same. For example, they are all high in kilojoules,so we need to be moderate in our overall intake of fat to help control ourbody weight. Fats also contain the fat-soluble vitamins. Fats may be verydifferent in other ways. Some are essential nutrients (you need to eat themas the body cannot make them itself); others are not. Some fats raise thelevel of cholesterol in the blood; others actually lower it.Healthier fats healthyWe all need some fat in our diets. The polyunsaturated fats are essential tipsnutrients -sometimes referred to as the essential fatty acids. There are two u Limit your intake of biscuits,of them – omega 6 and omega 3. Polyunsaturated fats lower the level of cakes, pastries, snack foodscholesterol in the blood and may benefit the heart in other ways. Although and fried take-away foods (see page 10 or 11).not essential in the diet, monounsaturated fats are also thought of ashealthier fats. They have a neutral effect on blood cholesterol. u Limit your use of full-fat dairy foods, fatty meats andThe healthier fats are mainly found in monounsaturated or polyunsaturated sausages.vegetable oils, margarines and salad dressings; and in nuts, avocados and u Choose unsaturated vegetableseeds. These foods are also the major sources of vitamins D and E. Eating oils and margarines in moderation.small amounts of these foods regularly will ensure we get the essential fattyacids and vitamins our bodies need.Not-so-healthy fats dietarySaturated fats are the not-so-healthy fats. They increase the level of guidelinescholesterol in the blood, which increases the risk of heart disease. Unlikethe polyunsaturated fats, they are not essential in our diet. In fact, the less Adultsof them we eat, the better. Limiting the amount of saturated fat in our daily u Limit saturated fats andmeals is the best way of keeping cholesterol in check. Saturated fats are moderate total fat intake.found in butter, cream, cheese and other full-fat dairy products. Fatty meats, Children adolescentssausages, biscuits, cakes, pastries, snack foods and fried take-away foods u Limit saturated fats andare also rich in saturated fat. Limiting saturated fat also reduces the total moderate total fat intake.amount of fat in your diet, helping to keep body weight under control. u Low-fat diets are not suitable for infants.18
  • 21. Choose foods low in saltThe traditional role of salt in foods was as a preservative. Before refrigeration,large amounts of salt were added to meat to prevent bacteria from spoilingit. With greater availability of fresh foods and increased ease of storing them,there is now less need for salt in foods.Salt has also traditionally been used to flavour many of our everyday foods.Indeed, most of the salt we eat today is already present in the foods we buy.Breads, breakfast cereals, margarines, soups and cheeses are all significantsources of salt. Of course, these foods also provide important nutrients inthe diet. Processed meats, snack foods and many take-away foods are oftenladen with salt but offer less nourishment. In addition, many people alsocommonly add extra salt at the table.Today there are many alternative ways to enhance the flavour of our foodsincluding a wide range of herbs and spices that can be used without theproblems associated with a high salt intake. healthyWhy do we worry about salt? tips u Include more fresh foods,When too much salt is eaten blood pressure tends to rise. High blood especially fruits, vegetables inpressure is the most common complaint seen by most doctors. It’s a daily meals.concern as high blood pressure increases the risk of both heart disease u Look for ‘reduced-salt’and stroke. Lowering blood pressure reduces this risk. Scientific studies or ‘low-salt’ foods whenhave shown that reducing salt intake in some people (as well as increasing shopping. Low salt foodsconsumption of foods such as fruits and vegetables) can lower blood contain less than 120mg of sodium per 100g.pressure but how much better it would be not to develop the problem inthe first place. u Try to limit salty snacks, take- away foods, processed meats,Introducing younger members of the family to a diet lower in salt early in cheese and butter.life, may prevent a lifelong preference developing and give them a much u Use a range of herbs andwider variety of tastes to enjoy throughout life. spices to flavour foods instead of salt.Other effects of diet on blood pressureSalt is not the only thing in food that affects blood pressure. Fruit andvegetables and low-fat dairy products each help lower blood pressure.Regular physical activity also helps keep blood pressure in check. Being dietaryoverweight can increase blood pressure markedly. Drinking too much guidelinesalcohol can raise it too. Adults, children adolescents u Choose foods low in salt. 19
  • 22. Limit your alcohol intakeAustralians have always been in two minds about alcohol. We use it tocelebrate at weddings, birthdays and many other social occasions. Having abeer with friends on a hot day is a very Australian thing to do. On the otherhand, alcohol is the root cause of many social and health problems andresults in 50,000 hospital admissions each year. At high intakes, alcohol is bothintoxicating and toxic. Alcohol is certainly not recommended for children.Risks to healthHeavy intakes of alcohol can cause short-term and long-term problems.Soon after drinking to excess the major problem is an increased risk ofaccidents due to the loss of judgement, control and reaction time. Accidentsare not confined to the road – they can occur in the workplace too.If heavy alcohol intakes continue over time the toxic effect of alcohol takesits toll. Alcohol damages the liver, causing a disease called cirrhosis. Highintakes of alcohol also increase the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat andoesophagus. Excess alcohol also raises blood pressure, which increases therisk of heart disease and stroke.The following patterns of drinking are considered unsafe:• heavy drinking with little food intake• inexperienced drinkers overdoing it• excessive drinking on the weekend or at partiesAlcohol also contains kilojoules which can add to a weight problem. Likesugar, alcohol is sometimes called ‘empty kilojoules’ because it containsfew nutrients for the body to use. As alcohol is very high in kilojoules, on dietaryaverage, no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day guidelinesfor men are recommended as part of a healthy diet. AdultsCan drinking be safe? u Limit your alcohol intake if you choose to drink.Yes. Having a drink or two with an evening meal appears to be a safe patternof drinking. At this level of intake there are no intoxicating or toxic effects. ChildrenOne or two drinks a day may even protect against heart disease. Alcohol has u Alcohol is not recommended for children.good effects on cholesterol in the blood and may reduce the risk of bloodclots forming.Women are advised to drink less than men. Of course, there are somepeople who would do best to drink no alcohol at all. These include childrenand adolescents, women who are planning pregnancy, or are pregnant,breastfeeding mothers, drivers and machine operators, people taking certainprescription drugs and people with a history of alcoholism. There may besome serious health problems in the long term if men consume, on average,more than four drinks a day and women two drinks a day.20
  • 23. Consume only moderateamounts of sugars and foodscontaining added sugarsIn the past, sugar has been unfairly blamed for causing a range of healthconditions such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer or hyperactivity in children.Although we now know that none of these conditions are caused by sugaritself, nevertheless, sugar does provide extra kilojoules in the diet withoutadding any other beneficial nutrients and it does play an important role intooth decay.Sugar’s place in a healthy dietA moderate amount of sugar in daily meals is not a problem. In fact,spreading a little jam on wholemeal bread or sprinkling a little sugar healthyto wholegrain breakfast cereal can make these nutritious foods moreenjoyable to eat. tips u Limit sugary soft drinks, cordialsAn excessive intake of sugar is another issue. Today, ideal foods are rich in and juice drinks. Remember,essential nutrients yet low in kilojoules. Sugar provides the opposite - it has one glass of about 250mls mayno essential nutrients yet is high in kilojoules. Very high sugar intakes can do contain up to 30g of addedone of two things – push healthier foods from the diet or increase overall sugar, a large can nearly 40g andkilojoule intake. Neither of these is desirable. a large bottle up to 60g. u Consider ‘diet’ versions when you feel like a soft drink, butSugary drinks and overweight remember that water is the best option.Overweight is rapidly increasing in both adults and children. This trend is u Limit lollies, sweet biscuits, cakesdue to lower levels of physical activity and increased intakes of kilojoules. In and pastries.recent years there has been a marked increase in the popularity of sugarysoft drinks, fruit drinks and cordials. These drinks are the major source ofadded sugar in our daily diet, by far and increasingly come in larger sizes.Although there have been dramatic declines in tooth decay in Australia itremains an important health problem. Having sticky, sugary foods and drinks dietaryregularly can increase the risk of tooth decay though many other factors are guidelinesimportant too. Sweet biscuits, cakes and pastries are generally high in bothsugar and saturated fat. Having a little less of these is another step towards a Adults, children adolescentshealthier diet. u Consume only moderate amounts of sugars and foods containing sugars. 21
  • 24. Care for your food;prepare and store it safelyAustralia has one of the safest food systems in the world. Nevertheless, westill have many thousands of cases of food poisoning a year, many of whichoccur in the home, and care still needs to be taken to ensure food does notbecome contaminated with harmful bacteria (‘germs’) and unsafe to eat.Correct handling and storage of foods will limit the chance of becoming sickfrom eating unsafe food. healthyHow germs cause illness tips u Always wash hands beforeThe germs that can contaminate food are bacteria and viruses. If they preparing or serving foodcome into contact with food these germs feed on it and grow in number, and after handling animals orespecially if the temperature is to their liking. Eating a contaminated food visiting the toilet.brings all these germs into the stomach from where they can cause illness. u Wash everything well after use.Some germs produce toxins in the food. When the food is eaten, the toxin u Store raw foods down low incauses the problems that follow, rather than the germs themselves. the fridge and check fridge temperatures regularly.The effects of eating contaminated food vary widely. Eating ‘off’ food u Foods and left-overs thatmay cause only minor effects in healthy adults, such as an upset stomach. belong in the refrigeratorHowever, symptoms can be more severe and include stomach pains, should always be returnedvomiting and diarrhoea. These can pose special health risks to pregnant there as soon as possible.women, the young, the sick and the elderly. u Thaw frozen meats in the refrigerator.How does food become unsafe? u Once cooked, pasta and rice should be stored in the refrigerator.Bacteria are present everywhere and they, like us, enjoy good food. All fresh u Look for the “best before”foods are on the germs’ menu. We need to take care of these foods – store, and “use-by” dates onprepare and cook them safely. There are a number of ways that food can packaged foods.become contaminated. For example:• Touching food with unclean hands.• Using dirty kitchen utensils.• Allowing raw foods, such as meat, fish and poultry, to come into contact with cooked foods. This can occur if raw and cooked foods are dietary prepared on the same chopping board or with the same knife. Also, raw guidelines meats stored in the refrigerator can drip onto cooked foods. Adults, children adolescentsGerms like warm temperatures - not too hot, not too cold. Problems can u Care for your food: preparearise when cooked food is kept lukewarm for long periods. These are perfect and store it safely.conditions for bacteria to grow and multiply. Although all germs may havebeen killed when a food was first cooked, it is possible for food to become22
  • 25. contaminated again and for the bacteria to grow in numbers in balmyconditions. At low temperatures many germs ‘go to sleep’ – they are still alivebut they do not multiply in numbers and spoil food. This explains why foodkeeps much longer in a refrigerator than it does sitting on a kitchen bench atroom temperature.At high temperatures bacteria die. If fresh food is well cooked and eatenstraight away it is generally safe to eat.Foods to watch out forAll foods bought fresh, stored properly at homeand carefully prepared should be completely safe toeat. Take special care with the storage and handlingof seafood and raw meat.There are greater risks when eating foods preparedaway from home for large numbers of people atevents, take-away outlets and restaurants. Thefollowing foods are ones to watch:• cooked meats and foods containing meat e.g. meat pies• foods containing dairy products• foods containing eggs• cooked rice and pasta dishes• salad bars.Packaged foodsPackaged foods in Australia are processed according to high standardsof hygiene and, in many cases, may be kept for long periods under idealconditions. Canned foods are sterile - they contain no bacteria at all and canbe stored in a cupboard for long periods. Once a can is opened, however, itscontents should be removed and stored in the refrigerator and used withina few days. Some foods are vacuum-packed to preserve them, denyingbacteria the air they need to grow. Food acids may be added to lower thepH of foods and slow the growth of bacteria.Packets of dried pasta and rice can be stored at room temperature for longperiods. They lack the water that bacteria need to grow and multiply. Withany packaged food, it is wise to follow the ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ datesprinted on the packaging. 2
  • 26. Encourage and supportbreastfeedingBreast milk is the best and most natural food for infants. It is ideally suitedto their needs. It not only provides nutrients for the baby but special growthfactors and protection against infection and disease. The best start a babycan have is to be exclusively breast fed for the first six months of life.How does breastfeeding work?Close contact between mother and baby immediately after birth helps toestablish breastfeeding. The high protein milk produced immediately afterbirth is called colostrum. Breast milk changes over time. After a week ortwo the colostrum is gradually replaced by mature breast milk, which ishigher in fat.Breast milk also changes during a feed. Part of the benefit of breastfeeding isthat babies can satisfy their thirst first and their hunger second from the onefeed. The amount of fat in breast milk is low at the start of a feed and high atthe end. Fast-growing babies, who need plenty of kilojoules, will stay on thebreast a little longer to get the benefits of the rich milk available at the endof the feed.It is important that breastfeeding women themselves have a good diet andthat they limit their consumption of alcohol and stimulants such as caffeine.Why is breast milk so special?Breast milk is uniquely suited to the needs of infants. It provides all thenutrients needed for the first six months of life and ensures no deficienciesoccur. Breast milk provides protein, carbohydrates, fat, omega 6 and omega 3 dietaryfatty acids and all the vitamins and minerals a baby needs to grow and thrive. guidelinesThe benefits of breast milk go beyond good nutrition. Breast milk: Adults, children adolescents• contains unique growth factors u Encourage and support breastfeeding.• has anti-infective agents, which protect against diarrhoea• protects against asthma and lung infections• protects against eczema.Breast milk has its greatest health benefits in the first three months oflife. It is also hygienic, inexpensive, convenient and available on demand.Breastfeeding has benefits for the mother too, assisting in the recovery afterchildbirth and the return to normal body weight.24
  • 27. How long should women breastfeed?Although customs vary across different cultures, an infant has no need forany other food than breast milk during the first six months of life. Breast milk Breastfeeding asis both the safest and best food for a child during this period. the foundation forThe Dietary Guidelines recommend: a healthy life• breast milk be the only food for about the first six months of life Breastfeeding is the foundation• the introduction of solid foods and continued breastfeeding from for healthy life. Eating the about 6 months right types of food, in the right amounts, getting plenty• after six months of age, breastfeeding should continue, with solids and of exercise and taking care to other drinks, as long as it is appropriate for the mother and infant. prepare and store food safely during childhood, adolescenceIf mothers cannot exclusively breastfeed to the first six months of life they and adulthood will help you andare encouraged to breastfeed as much and for as long as they can. your family to stay healthy and active throughout your life.Is cow’s milk suitable?If breastfeeding is stopped before the baby is 12 months of age, acommercial infant formula should be used instead. Cow’s milk is not suitablefor infants. Avoiding cow’s milk during the first 12 months of the baby’s lifewill also help protect against the development of cow’s milk allergy.Support and encouragementAlthough most new mothers in Australia commence breastfeeding,by three months just under a third have stopped or introducedother foods. New mothers need encouragement and help fromhospital staff and health care professionals in the early days afterbirth to establish breastfeeding. Later, mothers tend to rely onsupport from family members and friends.Support from the father of the child or other close family membersis particularly important. Fathers or other close family members areencouraged to attend antenatal classes, learn about the practicalaspects of breastfeeding and discuss breastfeeding with the mother.The Australian Breastfeeding Association is a communityorganisation that provides assistance and support for breastfeedingmothers. A local network of mothers, group discussions,educational sessions and one-to-one advice are all available toprovide mothers with support, guidance and friendship.All Australians can play a part in helping to encourage and supportbreastfeeding. 2

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