A few weeks ago, I was asked to moderate the presentations from a great line-up of speakers in the Nourishing Ideas tent at the Sunshine Coast Real Food Festival. I was particularly interested in one presentation on the Brazilian Sustainability Diet as Brazil has a special place in my heart. I spent just over a month in Brazil in 2010 and in fact it was my experience there with Brazilian paediatric cardiologist Dr Rosa Celia that convinced me to study nutrition. Brazil, like Australia, has seen obesity rates along with chronic disease soar, so I was intrigued to hear about the new 2014 guidelines from the Brazilian government.

Sunshine Coast University’s Dr Jude Maher spoke about Brazil’s approach and emphasized that we could possibly learn from these holistic and practical guidelines.
Noticeably different from the Australian Dietary Guidelines, the Brazilian Dietary Guidelines focus on dietary patterns not nutrients and also highlight the importance of the social, cultural and emotional aspect of eating along with the socio-economic, biological and environmental impacts.
Hence it is referred to as the Brazilian Sustainability Diet as it recommends a pattern of eating that promotes health and well-being while recognising the impact of food and beverages on the environment and makes recommendations to provide food security for the present population while sustaining human and natural resources for future generations.

At first I was overwhelmed to find that the document was 150 pages but it was easy to read with great photographs of food and people shopping, preparing and eating together. In a nutshell, the guidelines emphasize the benefits of dietary patterns based on a variety of natural or minimally processed foods, mostly plants, and freshly prepared meals eaten in company, for health and well-being; dietary recommendations must be aligned to changes in food supply and population health patterns to ensure socially just distribution of food and environmental sustainability; reliable recommendations on diet come from a range of sources and that the guidelines should enlarge people’s choice of and right to adequate and healthy diets.

What I like most about the guidelines is that there are 10 easy to follow steps.

  • Make natural or minimally processed foods the basis of your diet
  • Use oils, fats, salt and sugar in small amounts when seasoning and cooking natural or minimally processed foods and to create culinary preparations.
  • Limit consumption of processed foods
  • Avoid consumption of ultra-processed foods
  • Eat regularly and carefully in appropriate environment and, whenever possible, in company.
  • Shop in places that offer a variety of natural or minimally processed foods.
  • Develop, exercise and share cooking skills
  • Plan your time to make food and eating important in your life
  • Out of home, prefer places that serve freshly made meals
  • Be wary of food advertising and marketing

Guidelines that advise you to cook and enjoy fresh, whole foods, and serve them with friends and family while thinking critically about advertising and the impact on the environment gets a big thumbs up from me!

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