Canada’s new and surprising food guidelines

By Catherine Haug, July 23, 2017

Our neighbor, Canada, has just released a draft of new and simple food guidelines for public comment (1). Unlike the USA’s ‘food plate’ or ‘food pyramid’ recommendations by food group/category, Canada’s guidelines are simple and idea-based (although they do include a sample ‘plate’ (2)).  They also include an interactive “My Food Guide” (3), that can be tailored to reflect traditions and food choices of First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.

These guidelines are good not only for human health but also for that of the planet, and do not play into the pockets of industrial lobbyists.

The following are a list of recommendations (from a Food Revolution article about the draft guidelines (4)):

Recommendations

  • Focus on plant-based foods. The draft guidelines recommend regular intake of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and protein-rich foods, especially plant-based sources of protein. In their list of proteins, legumes (such as beans,) nuts and seeds, and soy products are listed first. They say a shift towards more plant-based foods is needed, without necessarily excluding animal foods altogether. They point out the need to eat less red meat and replace foods like cream, high-fat cheeses, and butter with foods such as nuts, seeds, and avocados.
  • Drink plain water as the beverage of choice. In order reduce the consumption of sugar and reduce the frequency at which teeth are exposed to sugar, regular intake of water is recommended.
  • Limit the intake of processed or prepared foods and beverages high in sodium and sugar.
  • Plan and prepare healthy meals and snacks. Few Canadians are preparing meals from scratch and many are, instead, relying on convenience foods, so planning and preparing healthy meals at home is recommended.
  • Share meals with friends and family when possible. According to the guiding principles, having meals together can reinforce positive eating habits and help children develop healthy attitudes toward food.
  • Be more mindful about food. The guidelines encourage people to learn more about where food comes from and how it’s prepared. Other practices they encourage include taking time to eat and savor every bite, paying attention to feelings of hunger and fullness, and avoiding distractions while eating.

References:

  1. canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/canada-food-guides.html
  2. Canada’s food plate: healthycanadians.gc.ca/eating-nutrition/healthy-eating-saine-alimentation/tips-conseils/interactive-tools-outils-interactifs/eat-well-bien-manger-eng.php
  3. Canada’s My Food Guide: healthycanadians.gc.ca/eating-nutrition/healthy-eating-saine-alimentation/food-guide-aliment/my-guide-mon-guide/index-eng.php
  4. Food Revolution article: foodrevolution.org/blog/canada-plant-based-food-guide

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