The Food Pyramid

Getting the Balance Right

A variety of foods that provide important nutrients also contain sugars and should not be avoided but consumed as part of a healthy and balanced diet. From an oral health perspective, whole fruits, vegetables and milk containing natural sugars are preferable to foods with "free sugars". The term "free sugars" includes any sugars which have been added to food plus sugars naturally present in honey, fruit juices and syrup. Foods containing "free sugars" are cariogenic and should be consumed only as part of a meal and not used as snacks between meals.


The biggest threat to both oral and general health comes from snack foods that have been allocated to the top shelf of the Food Pyramid such as cakes, biscuits, chocolate sweets and fizzy drinks. The between meal frequency with which these foods high in added sugars/fats are consumed as well as their quantity should be kept to a minimum. The Food Pyramid is essentially a guide to the components of a wellbalanced healthy diet and recommended serving sizes should be adjusted to an individual's requirements as determined, among other variables, by their gender, life stage, physical size and activity levels. It is also important, within the guidelines of the Food Pyramid, to eat a varied diet, as this helps to ensure intake of essential nutrients.


The number of servings shown on the Food Pyramid is suitable for adults and children from 5 years of age; younger children should start with fewer and smaller servings in accordance with their growth and appetite. Children, as well as adults, are advised to drink plenty of water and to be physically active.

A downloadable version of the Food Pyramid is available here.


Your Guide to Healthy Eating Using The Food Pyramid is available at: https://www.healthpromotion.ie/hp-files/docs/HPM00796.pdf
Publication cover - new food pyramidCover image for new food pyramid