Food-based dietary guidelines

Food-based dietary guidelines - Hungary

Official name

Dietary guidelines for the adult population in Hungary (Hungarian: Táplálkozási ajánlások a magyarországi).

Publication year

Hungary developed the first version of its dietary guidelines in 1987. The second version was published in 2004. A new revision of the guidelines is in progress.

Process and stakeholders

A multi-sectoral team developed the dietary guidelines, including the Ministries of Health, Agriculture and Education. Institutions of nutrition and food hygiene, sports health and obesity were involved in the process.

They are endorsed by the Ministry of Health.

Intended audience

The Hungarian dietary guidelines apply to all healthy adults.

Food guide

Hungary’s food guide is the ‘house of healthy nutrition’, which has cereals at the base and vegetables and fruits on the second level. The roof is made of animal source products (i.e. meats and dairy products). Foods from these groups should be part of the daily diet. Products high in sugar and fat should be eaten sparingly, and this is the reason why they are placed outside of the house.


1. Cereals

  • Eat cereals several times a day.
  • Plan your daily diet to include wholegrain cereals in as many of your meals as possible.
  • Use wholegrain cereals also for preparing your dishes, and strive for diversity by preparing for instance corn porridge, oatmeal porridge, and oat bran scone and millet risotto from time to time.
  • Try to preserve the nutritional value of foods/dishes prepared from cereals and in the course of preparation do not add any fat or salt or use them in very small quantities.

2. Vegetables, fruits

  • Eat both fruits and vegetables at least three times a day.
  • Eat dark green vegetables, citrus fruits, tomato and legumes often – these are rich in carotenoids, vitamin C and folates (folic acid).
  • Vegetables and fruits should always be close at hand, in the pantry or in the fridge.
  • Always eat fresh and intact fruits and vegetables, and do not use any mouldy or damaged products.

3. Milk and dairy products

  • Drink milk (0.5 litre) every day; choose fermented dairy products (curdled milk, kefir and yoghurt) as often as possible.
  • Eat reduced fat or low-fat cottage cheese more often.
  • Eat reduced-fat cheese regularly.

4. Meats, meat products, fish, eggs, soy

  • Eat lean meats prepared with small amounts of fat regularly.
  • Look for lean cold cuts.
  • Eat sea fish regularly, at least once a week.

5. Fats

  • Do not use (unnecessarily) fats when preparing your dishes, or for spreading, or use only very small amounts.
  • Look for lean meats or meat products and low-fat milk or dairy products.
  • Foods that are rich in fats are to be avoided.
  • Frying in fat should be avoided.
  • Liver or liver products may be consumed once every 7–10 days, and no more than 3 or 4 eggs may be taken a week.

6. Salt and salting

  • Do not use salt, or use only very small amounts of iodized salt.
  • Avoid foods that are rich in salt.
  • For seasoning use green or dried herbs and spices – these can partially compensate for the lack of salty taste.

7. Sugar

  • Avoid the frequent consumption of foods or drinks rich in added sugar.
  • Satisfy your desire for sweets by eating fruits.
  • To quench your thirst, drink water or mineral water instead of sugary drinks.

8. Alcohol

  • Those who drink alcoholic beverages should do so in moderation.
  • ‘Moderately’ means no more than one unit per day for women and no more than two units per day for men. It is wise to drink alcoholic beverages at the same time as eating a meal, because alcohol will then be absorbed more slowly.

9. Healthy body mass

  • Maintain a healthy body mass; if you have become overweight or obese, seek professional advice and do your best to reduce your body mass by 5% and 15%, respectively.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables, prepared with no or small amounts of fats, and eat a lot of fruit.
  • Eat less and carefully control your portions.
  • Increase your exercise and do it regularly, every day.
  • To prevent obesity, provide a good example to your children by observing the principles of healthy nutrition.
  • Although susceptibility to obesity is an important factor, with appropriate nutrition and lifestyle a healthy or near healthy body weight can be achieved.

10. Exercise

  • Regular physical activity should be a lifelong programme for everyone.
  • Adults should exercise or do some sporting activity for at least 30 minutes, and children for at least 60 minutes a day.
  • Encourage your children to lead a physically active life.
  • It is never too late for the middle-aged or the elderly to change their lifestyles.
  • Choose a type of exercise that you enjoy.

11. Food safety

  • Buy your food only from reliable sources, and shop carefully.
  • Prevent any contact between raw materials and ready-cooked food.
  • Most foods can be rendered safe by appropriate frying or baking.
  • Place in a cool place any perishable foods and dishes as soon as possible.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Keep your kitchen clean.
  • Always keep in mind these food safety requirements, even when eating out, taking food from home to the workplace and/or in the case of a family gathering or pig killing at home.

12. Food labelling

  • Read the label carefully to learn about the ingredients and the energy and nutrient content of foods.

13. Further good advice

  • Eat four or five times a day, and always at the same time if possible.
  • Eat calmly, never eat when driving or at work.
  • Drink 6–8 glasses of water or mineral water a day.
  • Eat a variety of foods, and include in your diet as many foods and dishes as possible.