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What is the Food Pyramid?

Your body needs lots of different nutrients to stay healthy. That means eating a variety of foods from each of the main food groups.

In Ireland, the Food Pyramid is used to make healthy eating easier. It shows the different food groups and how much of each we need to have a healthy diet. Eating the right amount from each food group is called eating a "balanced" diet.

Eating well is important for all of us. In the short-term, it can help us to feel good, look our best and stay at a healthy weight. In the long-term, a healthy, balanced diet can reduce our risk of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers.

The Food Pyramid for adults, teenagers and children aged 5 and over

The Food Pyramid organises food into five main shelves - a shelf for each food group. The most important shelf is on the bottom and the least important on the top. 

The Food Pyramid

Click to enlarge

What's on each shelf of the food pyramid

  • Vegetables, salad and fruit - Eat plenty of these, up to seven servings a day.

  • Starchy foods - Have wholemeal cereals and breads, potatoes, pasta or rice with each meal. Wholegrain is best.

  • Dairy - Have some milk, yoghurt and cheese. Choose reduced-fat or low-fat.

  • Meat and alternatives - Have some meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and nuts. Choose lean options and have fish at least twice a week – one being oily.

  • Fats, spreads and oils - Have small amounts and choose unsaturated or reduced-fat options.

  • We call these 'treats' - foods that have high amounts of salt, fat and sugar. This is the least important shelf. Have a treat once or twice a week. 

You don’t have to get the right balance at every meal. It's fine if you balance it out over the whole day or even a week.

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