1. Make natural or minimally processed foods the basis of your diet
In the guide’s words, these are “nutritionally balanced, delicious, culturally appropriate, and supportive of socially and environmentally sustainable food systems.” People should seek out a variety, but the guide specifically touts “beans and lentils, rice and corn, potato and cassava, tomatoes and squash, orange and banana, chicken and fish.”
Most health experts agree that fresh, whole foods are good for weight control because they are harder to gorge on.
2. Use oils, fats, salt, and sugar in small amounts when seasoning and cooking
The guide says you should use these substances sparingly, but not avoid them altogether: “Oils, fats, salt, and sugar contribute to diverse and delicious diets without making them nutritionally unbalanced,” it reads.
As Carlos Monteiro, a doctor based at University of Sao Paulo, whose Center for Epidemiological Studies in Health and Nutrition helped conceive the guide, told Grist, “Without oil and sugar, at least in Brazil, you cannot cook and prepare meals.”
3. Limit consumption of processed foods
This is where the guide departs from that of the U.S. and other countries. It considers things like bread, cheese, and canned fruit to be “processed food,” and suggests these should be a smaller part of people’s diets than whole fruits and vegetables.
4. Avoid consumption of ultra-processed foods
The guide provides a litany of “ultra-processed” treats it considers verboten: “Fatty, sweet or salty packaged snacks, biscuits (cookies), ice-creams, candies and confectionery in general; cola, soda, and other soft drinks; sweetened juices and ‘energy’ drinks; sweetened breakfast cereals; cakes and cake mix, and cereal bars; sweetened and flavoured yogurts and dairy drinks…”
It calls these foods “nutritionally unbalanced.” “As a result of their formulation and presentation, they tend to be consumed in excess,” it says.
It goes so far as to suggest all these chips and cookies are ruining the Brazilian culture and landscape: “Their means of production, distribution, marketing, and consumption damage culture, social life, and the environment.”
5. Eat regularly and carefully in appropriate environments and, whenever possible, in company
Here’s where things start to get a little Eat, Pray, Love:
“Avoid snacking between meals. Eat slowly and enjoy what you are eating, without engaging in another activity. Eat in clean, comfortable and quiet places, where there is no pressure to consume unlimited amounts of food. Whenever possible, eat in company, with family, friends, or colleagues: this increases the enjoyment of food and encourages eating regularly, attentively, and in appropriate environments.”
6. Shop in places that offer a variety of natural or minimally processed foods
“Prefer vegetables and fruits that are locally grown in season. Whenever possible, buy organic and agro-ecological based foods, preferably directly from the producers.”