by Marion Nestle
Feb 19 2014

Brazil’s new dietary guidelines: food-based!

Brazil has issued new dietary guidelines open for public comment.  For the Brazilian Dietary Guidelines document (in Portuguese), click here..

Brazilian health officials designed the guidelines to help protect against undernutrition, which is already declining sharply in Brazil, but also to prevent the health consequences of overweight and obesity, which are sharply increasing in that country.

The guidelines are remarkable in that they are based on foods that Brazilians of all social classes eat every day, and consider the social, cultural, economic and environmental implications of food choices.

The guide’s three “golden rules:”

  • Make foods and freshly prepared dishes and meals the basis of your diet.
  • Be sure oils, fats, sugar and salt are used in moderation in culinary preparations.
  • Limit the intake of ready-to-consume products and avoid those that are ultra-processed.

The ten Brazilian guidelines:

  1. Prepare meals from staple and fresh foods.
  2. Use oils, fats, sugar and salt in moderation.
  3. Limit consumption of ready-to-consume food and drink products
  4. Eat regular meals, paying attention, and in appropriate environments.
  5. Eat in company whenever possible.
  6. Buy food at places that offer varieties of fresh foods. Avoid those that mainly sell products ready for consumption.
  7. Develop, practice, share and enjoy your skills in food preparation and cooking.
  8. Plan your time to give meals and eating proper time and space.
  9. When you eat out, choose restaurants that serve freshly made dishes and meals. Avoid fast food chains.
  10. Be critical of the commercial advertisement of food products.

Now if only our Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee would take note and do the same?

Would you like us to have sensible, unambiguous food-based guidelines like these?  You can file comments on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines here.

Thanks to Professor Carlos A. Monteiro of the Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health at the University of Sao Paulo for sending the guidelines and for their translation, and for his contribution to them.

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  • Deborah Boller Grimm

    The dietary implication of not eating by yourself?
    1st – If you eat with someone else you will probably talk in-between bites, which makes you eat at a slower pace. THAT, in turn, gives times for your stomach to signal to your brain that the food-quota was met and that it can cancel the “hunger-signal”, by default people do not over eat. It’s actually a common practice to ask in a restaurant if this or that item is enough for two, because it’s very nice when we get to split the tab.
    2nd – I really don’t know why you think cooking is an elitist thing. I guess what you call “cooked food” and what we ( as in we brazillians) call “cooked food” are different things. What we call a good, home made or self-cooked meal consists of:
    ~Salad: lettuce and tomato, fresh. Wash-cut-serve, 10 min. at most.
    ~Rice and beans: while the beans do take time to cook and require the use of the pressure cooker, it’s common practice to make enough for the whole week and keep it stored in the fridge, we usually re-use plastic ice-cream packages. Pretty much everyone kid here knows the disappointment of thinking there was any ice-cream left but, nope, black beans.
    ~Egg or Meat: One of the other, done in different ways, just let it cook while chop those tomatoes.
    There, a whole meal in 15 min max.
    3rd – The one “out of touch with reality” is you… You are out of touch with OUR reality. Here its much, much, much, MUUUUCH cheaper to buy 1kg of rice, 1kg of beans, vegies, fruit, eggs, etcs, for the week then to eat out everyday, specially in fast-food chains. A Big-Mac combo here goes for 18 Reais… and 18 Reais is just about enough to buy all we need for a week, if we eat eggs instead of meat, and there will be some left over for the next week. This guide it actually one of the very few things the government here did right and you have no idea how rare this is. Have I mentioned how stupidly expensive processed food is here? Really, a single mother who has to work all day would rather wake up an hour early and pre-cook a lot of food then to spend her hard earned money on frozen foods or hamburgers or whatever, because it’s way less expensive.
    4th – What you people call “Happy Meal” we call “Happy Snack”. Really. Literally. Because the kid will be hungry 30 min after eating that thing. That’s not what we call food. A meal is supposed to get you going through to whole morning/afternoon. Fast-food has NEVER been able to achieve that. EVER.
    5th – Here people take pride in saying “I do this special roast that is just delicious” or “this is home-made bread, I did it myself”. Knowing how to cook is a celebrated trait.