Why use the Australian Dietary Guidelines

By Ines Astudillo, Paediatric Dietitian APD
Did you know that the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) retrieved over 55,000 scientific journal articles for the development of the Australian Dietary Guidelines to ensure advice is based on the best available evidence? These guidelines take into account nutrient reference values, public consultation, expert opinion and scientific literature (including extensive infant literature reviews) which essentially gives Australians best practice, gold standard nutrition and health information. You can read more here on how the Australian Dietary Guidelines were developed.
Guideline 2 of the Australian Dietary Guidelines states to ‘Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups everyday’.
The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating forms the ‘Five Food Groups’, a model that can be a simple and useful tool to ensure an adequate intake of nutrients, necessary for the normal functioning of our bodies. Foods are grouped based on their nutrient profile. And so if for any reason a person does not eat a food group, the model can be used to look for alternative food sources of these important nutrients. Omitting whole food groups may lead nutrient deficiencies and health problems. Variety is key as it ensures a wide range of essential nutrients and reduces the chance of one food overpowering the diet.
Using the five food groups helps you create lunch boxes that are simple yet interesting. Instead of running out of lunch ideas, you will have a fantastic range of nutritious foods all year!
What are the Five Food Groups?

  • Vegetables and legumes/beans
  • Fruit
  • Grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties
  • Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans
  • Milk, yoghurt cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduced

Pack at least 5 different foods from each of the five food groups.

For example:


  • Vegetables: Carrot, snow peas, cucumber, lentils, hummus
  • Fruit: Mango, apple
  • Grain: Wholegrain crackers
  • Lean protein: Tuna, lentils hummus
  • Dairy: Cheese

This sample  lunch box was sent to school for my 4.5yo and 6yo boys. You may be wondering ‘did they really eat all of that?’. My message to them is to eat what their tummies want and until their tummies are happy. This lunch box is catered to my boys. I can assist you with developing lunch boxes that cater to your child and your family, even if your child is fussy, picky or particular about their foods. I invite you to connect with me to get started.

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