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Food-based dietary guidelines

Food-based dietary guidelines - Belgium

Official name

Practical guidelines for healthy eating (Dutch: Gezonde voeding: de praktische gidsen; French: Les guides pratiques du Plan National Nutrition Santé)

Publication year

Belgium published its first set of dietary guidelines in 2005. The Flemish government updated its food guide in 2017.

Process and stakeholders

The formulation of dietary guidelines in Belgium is a regional competence. 

Intended audience

There are five practical guidelines aimed at different population groups: the general public, 0–3 year old children, 3–12 year old children, 12–18 year old adolescents and the elderly.

Food guides

Belgium uses two food guides. One is used by the French community and the other one by the Flemish community. The Flemish government endorses a 'food triangle' which is meant to be used together with a 'Physical Activity' triangle. 

The French food guide is a pyramid divided into seven levels, starting with physical activity at the bottom. Eight food groups are represented: cereals and potatoes; vegetables; fruits; meat, fish, eggs and meat alternatives; dairy and calcium-enriched products; oils and fatty products and sugary products; and unsweetened beverages such as water and tea.

Messages

  • Eat at least 400 g of fruits and vegetables every day ensuring an equal distribution between the two.
  • Limit the amount of spreadable fat used on bread or when preparing meals. Do not eat more than 75–100 g a day of meat, fish, eggs or products made with these foods. Limit your daily consumption of cheese to one or two slices. Do not drink more than 3–4 glasses of skimmed or semi-skimmed milk or soy products.
  • Use good fats, such as unsaturated fatty acids (olive oil), omega-6 (sunflower oil and soya oil) and omega-3 (canola oil, nut oil and soya oil and fatty fish).
  • Choose carbohydrates and fibre-rich foods, such as baked potatoes (3–5 portions), wholemeal pasta and rice, brown bread and cereals.
  • Reduce the consumption of energy-dense foods high in sugars, such as pastries, sweets, soft drinks, alcohol, etc.
  • Use salt in moderation and replace it with iodized salt.
  • Drink at least 1.5 litres of water every day (water, coffee, tea, etc.).

Food triangle messages (Flemish population)

  • Make foods derived from plants the basis of every meal
  • Limit your intake of animal products
  • Drink water
  • Choose as few ultraprocessed products as possible
  • Vary your diet and look for alternatives
  • Eat at set times and together with others
  • Eat consciously and with moderation
  • Adapt your environment
  • Work step by step
  • Enjoy what you eat!

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