Why the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating is Wrong!

The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating is wrong! In this article we will examine the flaws of these dietary guidelines and why every Australian should avoid following these nutritional recommendations if they are serious about losing weight, looking after their health and improving their quality of life.

After completing my first science degree from the University of Western Australia, I decided to enrol in another science degree at Curtin University majoring in Nutrition. However, after studying there for a year I decided not to re-enrol the following year simply because I believed, and still believe, that what they are teaching is downright wrong! Not a bit out or slightly incorrect, but wrong!

Australian Guide to Healthy Eating

Furthermore, there is no doubt in my mind that these recommendations are one of the contributing factors to the ever-growing obesity epidemic that we are faced with here in Australia.

A keen observer will note that the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating is remarkably similar to the USDA Food Pyramid. The only real difference is the fact that the Australian Dietary Guidelines use a pie or plate shape instead of a triangle (it's not really a pyramid because it's only two dimensional!).

There are many areas where the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating is wrong and we will cover them throughout this article but here's just one example of the ridiculous recommendations that our own government provides to its people:

Women aged between 19 and 60 are recommended to have 4-9 serves of the cereals group each day. One serve is equal to 2 slices of bread, 1 cup of breakfast cereal flakes or 1 medium bread roll!

This is an enormous amount of food and is only one food group!

Okay, let's just put that in perspective for a moment. So the average woman should have between 8 and 18 slices of bread each day! Do you know anyone who's lost weight by eating about a dozen slices of bread each day! This is completely ridiculous and people wonder why we have an obesity problem. To make matters worse, I continue to hear dieticians telling people that it's not the carbs that make you fat but what you put on them, i.e. butter on bread or sour cream on potatoes. Obviously these people missed the lectures on biochemistry and the impact insulin has in the body.

Guys in the same age group can have between 12 and 24 slices of bread a day! Fantastic, I can eat a loaf of bread each and every day and be following our government's dietary guidelines to the letter! I seriously cannot believe that our government is not embarrassed by these recommendations!

The next group is the Vegetable and Legume group. The recommendation for both men and women in the 19-60 age group is to have 5 serves day and to have a variety of sources from this group. The problem is that there is such a huge variation in energy (caloric) value in the foods suggested. This means it is far too easy to consume too many calories in a day and therefore put on weight. For example, 1 medium potato (100 grams) has around 62 calories, whilst 1 cup of lettuce has around 2 calories. This begs the question: 'Why were these two food sources placed in the same food group?'

The Fruit group and the Milks, Yoghurt and Cheese Alternatives group in the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating, both have recommendations of 2 serves a day respectively. Amazingly, I think this is a pretty good recommendation for most people even though I'm not a fan of dairy foods simply because of the health issues they may cause as well as their hypothesised contribution to 'Silent Inflammation' in the body.

Another major issue I have with the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating is the miniscule recommendation for good sources of protein. Both men and women are recommended to have only 1 serve a day from the Meat, Fish, Poultry Nuts and Legumes group. This means we should have no more than one serve of meat or chicken that is at most, the size of a deck of cards! Alternatively, we can have 1/2 cup of mince or perhaps 1/3 cup of peanuts. Remember, this isn't for one meal but for the entire day!

Put it this way, if you take all the water out of a human body you're left with a mass of tissue of which about half of it is made of protein. Plus, since the body is a dynamic structure, meaning it is constantly breaking down and building up tissues all day long, doesn't it make sense to keep supplying those tissues with the building blocks that it needs? These building blocks are made up of amino acids, which of course come from protein. Finally, the word "Protein' itself comes from the Greek word, 'Proteus', which means, 'of primary importance'. Don't you think you may want to consume a bit more protein in your diet?

In saying this, I don't think it is essential to get all your protein needs just from meat sources, and the Legumes and dairy will certainly provide some protein, but I do think that the recommendation to only have one serve a day from the Meat, Fish, Poultry Nuts and Legumes group is far too few.

The final group on our Australian Guide to Healthy Eating is the Extra group. This is a classic! Okay, men and women in the 19-60 age group can have between 0 and 3 serves a day (women is actually 2.5 serves). Best of all is that a serve of this group is, 3-4 biscuits, half a chocolate bar, 30 grams of potato crisps, a slice of pizza, 1 can of soft drink, 2 scoops of ice cream, 1 meat pie or 2 standard glasses of alcohol. Each of these examples is only one(1) serve, and you can have up to 3 serves a day! Awesome! According to the Australian government guys can drink just over a bottle of wine every day of the week if they so choose! Perhaps just for a change they might have 3 meat pies instead or perhaps 6 scoops of ice cream! Seriously! And we wonder why there's an obesity epidemic.

Interstingly enough, after working out the approximate daily energy (calorie) values for both men and women based on the recommendations, the guidelines are actually pretty close to what most fitness industry professionals would recommend to people for weight-loss purposes. Women are recommended to consume about 1,200 caloriues per day and men about 1,500 calories per day.

Since the 'Golden Rule' for weight loss is to burn up more calories than you take in each day, a relatively low calorie intake will make this goal easier to achieve and the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating does achieve this end. However, it is also important to get the proportions of the macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein and fat) correct otherwise weight loss, or more specifically, fat burning, becomes difficult. Since the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating has a very high proportion of its total calories coming from carbohydrate, fat burning will be hard on this diet.

This information needs to be shared with as many people as possible to simply make them aware of the completely ridiculous Australian dietary guidelines we are provided with by our government. Also, if you would like to find out about the correct nutritional recommendations, then read my article on the The Best Foods to Have in a Healthy Eating Plan.

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