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New food-based dietary guidelines


Both the UK and The Netherlands have just published an update of their food-based dietary guidelines: the Eatwell Guide (UK, March 17) and the Wheel of Five (NL, March 22). The different size segments in these models represent the proportions in which different types of foods are needed to have a well-balanced and healthy diet.

Recommendations in both models include eating plenty of plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, wholegrain foods) and choosing foods which are lower in saturated fat, salt and sugars. Animal foods, including meat and dairy, represent smaller segments in these models, highlighting that only modest amounts are required as part of a healthy balanced diet.

In the UK Eatwell Guide more emphasis is placed on food products that can be considered more environmentally sustainable. The protein segment is named ‘Beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins’ to highlight the contribution non-meat sources make to protein intake. Calcium-fortified soy drinks are part of the Eatwell Guide next to dairy.

eatwell guide

Lynne Garton, co-author of The Plant-based Plan, explains in a short video the UK Eatwell Guide.

As in the UK, the new Wheel of Five from The Netherlands emphasizes the importance of sustainability. The Wheel of Five specifically recommends to consume less meat and increase the intake of plant-based products eg. beans, pulses, nuts and other plant-based products (tofu and tempeh). A daily portion of nuts is recommended. Also in The Netherlands, calcium-fortified soy drinks are placed next to dairy. Furthermore it is mentioned that the intake of dairy should not be higher than recommended not to burden the environment more than necessary.


In the two new models foods high in saturated fat and/or sugar have been placed outside of the main image, to indicate that these foods and drinks can be consumed but infrequently (ie. not daily) and in small amounts.

Dairy which contains more than 6 grams of sugars per 100 gram and full fat dairy products (because of the high saturated fat content) are not recommended.

The above recommendations are in line with the updated dietary guideline for Americans (January 2016): focus on a variety of nutrient-dense foods including vegetables, fruits and grains (at least half of which are whole grains), fat-free or low-fat dairy or fortified soy beverage and a variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts, seeds, and soy product.



Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 – January 7, 2016. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.18396.

The Eatwell Guide (Public Health England) – March 17, 2016

The Wheel of Five (The Netherlands) – March 22, 2016

- Alpro Foundation

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