New health initiative provides dietary help
Healthy Food for Life, a new initiative launched by Minister Corcoran Kennedy, aims to assist in healthy eating
After recently surveying 7,500 people living in Ireland, the results of the second Healthy Ireland Survey has prompted Minister Marcella Corcoran Kennedy to launch a new initiative to clean up Ireland’s act - through being healthy.
The intake of glucose, salt, and fat in an ordinary day is over double the amount of high fat and high sugar foods they should be eating in order to maintain a healthy diet, with a full report back in 2008 recording that the average Irish person consumes 7.3 daily servings of high fat, high sugar foods, such as oils, butter, cakes, and biscuits.
The new findings of the 2016 report, with just 27% eating five portions of fruit and vegetables daily, 14% consuming sugar sweetened drinks daily, rising to 22% of people 15 to 24 years old, and 37% indicating that they drink six or more standard drinks (“binge drinking”) on a typical drinking occasion, has prompted the Department of Health and other health experts to launch the initiative, Healthy Food for Life – the Healthy Eating Guidelines and Food Pyramid.
“While we have made progress in some areas in the last few years, rates of tobacco consumption, alcohol usage, food consumption patterns and physical inactivity are leading causes of increases in chronic conditions,” said Dr. Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health.
Healthy Food for Life is a toolkit which includes a new Food Pyramid and guidance materials to help people makes choices to maintain a balanced diet. The resources reflect the best national and international evidence and advice, and applies to everyone ages five and up.
Studies have shown that having a varied, healthy diet improves numerous factors in daily life, such as increased energy, the ability to concentrate and complete tasks, and better mental and physical health.
The Food Pyramid is a visual representation of how different foods and drinks contribute towards a healthy balanced diet. In the shape of a pyramid, it shows what foods are best to eat in numerous servings, versus other foods you should limit to once or twice a week. It allows people to easily choose foods and drinks from each shelf depending on their food preferences, with the foods and drinks organized into 5 main shelves, the most important shelf at the bottom.
It has three main goals:
- Limit high fat, sugar and salt foods from the top shelf of the Pyramid to no more than once or twice a week
- Eat more fruit and vegetables, at least 5 to 7 servings a day
- Use the Pyramid as a guide for serving sizes and remember that portion size matters
The new initiative also includes fact sheets, providing guides on consuming foods like vegetables, salad and fruit, wholemeal cereals to breads, potatoes, yogurt and cheese, and meat, as well as foods and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt.
“Healthy Ireland seeks to support people and communities in making those positive changes and to also influence the wider environment so the healthier choice is the easier one for everyone,” added Dr. Holohan.
You can check out the initiative by downloading its fact sheets and The Food Pyramid by clicking http://www.healthyireland.ie/health-initiatives/heg/.