Food-based dietary guidelines

Food-based dietary guidelines - Ireland

Official name

Healthy Food for Life – the Healthy Eating Guidelines 

Publication year

The guidelines were published in 2012. The food pyramid and messages were revised in 2015-2016.

Process and stakeholders

The guidelines have been developed and updated by the Department of Health. The new Healthy Food for Life – the Healthy Eating Guidelines and Food Pyramid have been developed by the Department working in partnership with other experts in nutrition in Ireland.

Intended audience

The messages of the guidelines are intended for adults and children over 5 years of age. 

Food guide

The food guide for Ireland consists of a pyramid representing how different foods and drinks contribute towards a healthy balanced diet. The Food Pyramid allows individuals the flexibility to choose foods and drinks from each shelf depending on their food preferences. It organises foods and drinks into 5 main shelves, starting from the most important shelf on the bottom: Shelf 1 Vegetables, Salad and Fruit; Shelf 2 Wholemeal Cereals and Breads, Potatoes, Pasta and Rice; Shelf 3 Milk, Yogurt and Cheese; Shelf 4 Meat, Poultry, Fish, Eggs, Beans and Nuts; Shelf 5 Fats, Spreads and Oils. 

The top shelf is separated from the rest of the pyramid, representing foods and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt, which should not be consumed every day. 


  • Limit high fat, sugar and salt foods from the top shelf of the Pyramid to no more than once or twice a week
  • Eat more fruit and vegetables, at least 5 to 7 servings a day
  • Use the Pyramid as a guide for serving sizes and remember that portion size matters