ECI Resources

ECI Food Guidelines

Make natural and or minimally processed foods the basis of your diet
Natural or minimally processed foods, in great variety, and mainly of plant origin, are the basis for diets that are nutritionally balanced, delicious, culturally appropriate, and supportive of socially and environmentally sustainable food systems.  Variety means foods of all types – cereals, legumes, roots, tubers, vegetables, fruits, nuts, milk, eggs, meat – and diversity within each type – such as beans and lentils, rice and corn, potato and cassava, tomatoes and squash, citrus and banana, chicken and fish.

Use oils, fats, salt, and sugar in small amounts as seasoning and cook natural or minimally processed foods
As long as they are used in moderation in dishes and meals based on natural or minimally processed foods, oils, fats, salt, and sugar contribute to diverse and delicious diets without making them nutritionally unbalanced.

Limit consumption of processed foods
The ingredients and methods used in the manufacture of processed foods – such as vegetables in brine, fruits in syrup, cheeses and breads – negatively alter the nutritional composition of the foods from which they are derived.  In small amounts, processed foods can be used as ingredients in dishes and meals with natural or minimally processed foods as the main component(s).

Avoid consumption of ultra-processed foods
Because of their ingredients, ultra-processed foods such as salty, fatty packaged snacks, soft drinks, sweetened breakfast cereals, and instant noodles, are nutritionally unbalanced.  As a result of their formulation and presentation, they tend to be consumed in excess, and displace natural or minimally processed foods.  Their means of production, distribution, marketing, and consumption damage culture, social life, and the environment.

Eat regularly and carefully in appropriate environments and, whenever possible, in company
Prepare and consume your daily meals at regular times and 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.  Share household activities that precede or follow the consumption of meals.

Shop in places that offer a variety of natural or minimally processed foods
Purchase produce in locally sourced supermarkets and farmer’s markets or at shops that sell varieties of natural or minimally processed foods.  Consume primarily vegetables and fruits that are locally grown and in season.  Whenever possible, buy organic and agro-ecology based products, preferably direct from producers.

Develop, exercise and share cooking skills
If you have cooking skills, broaden and share them, especially with children.  If you do not have these skills, acquire them – men as well as women. Learn from and talk with people who know how to cook.  Ask family, friends, and colleagues for recipes, read books, take courses. Start cooking!

Plan your time to make food and eating important in your life
Plan your food shopping, and decide on meals in advance.  Share with family members the responsibility for all activities related to meals.  Make the preparation and eating of meals privileged times of conviviality and pleasure.  Assess how you live so as to give proper time for food and eating.

Out of home, prefer places that serve freshly made meals
Eat in places that serve fresh meals at good prices.  Avoid fast food chains.

Be wary of food advertising and marketing
The purpose of advertising is to increase product sales, not to inform or educate people.  Be critical and teach children to be critical of all forms of food advertising and marketing.    

ECI FOOD GUIDELINES: adapted from a document developed by and for the people of Brazil

The development of the ‘Dietary Guidelines for the Brazilian Population’ was led by the Ministry of Health and the Center for Epidemiological Research in Nutrition and Health at the University of São Paulo with the support of the Brazilian Pan American Health Organization.  They were created in consultation with multiple sectors of the Brazilian society.  Initiated in 2006 during a series of workshops with experts from various sectors including health, education, social welfare, agriculture, as well as researchers and representatives of civic organizations, the guidelines were revised and disseminated widely in 2014.