Canada’s most recent food guide not only provides updated healthy eating suggestions, but includes major changes such as eliminating the four food groups and specific serving recommendations, doing away with decades of convention. These revisions are part of Canada’s Healthy Eating Strategy and the new guide uses science-backed suggestions to improve healthy eating recommendations. The guide was last published in 2007 and the new changes are due in part to user suggestions to make the guidelines easier to implement in everyday life. The multi-year revision process took into account current consumption trends, consumer’s health status, environmental context, current dietary guidance, and links between food, nutrients, and health. This revised guide attempts to be more inclusive of Indigenous Peoples and aims to be relevant to all Canadians.
Here’s a look at some of the big changes.
Eat a variety of healthy food every day
There is less of an emphasis on the serving size of each food type that people should eat, but a picture in the guide illustrates a plate that is half full of fruits and vegetables, one-quarter full of various proteins, and one-quarter full of whole grains. It’s these proportions that are relevant more than an exact portion, according to the guide. The idea is that eliminating the serving size recommendations and suggesting a more general proportion guideline will make it easier to follow the guide’s healthy suggestions in day-to-day life.
Avoid processed foods and beverages
They may be convenient, but these foods and beverages tend to be much higher in sugar, sodium, and saturated fats, all of which have major human health impacts.
Make water your drink of choice
Instead of drinking soda or juice, choose water. Water prevents dehydration, supports a healthy body, and has no calories. Drinking more water may also reduce the intake of other sugary beverages, which are a top source of sugar in Canadian diets.
Cook at home more often
Cooking at home can help people avoid buying foods or snacks that may be more processed and have higher sugar, fat, and sodium content. By cooking with healthy ingredients people can take more control of their food and create healthy eating habits. Cooking at home is also a great way to pass those skills and traditions on to family and friends.
The revised guide suggests selecting more plant-based proteins such as beans, lentils, nuts, and tofu more often than animal-sourced protein. In general, these foods contain more fiber and less saturated fat and can lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, and type two diabetes according to the guide recommendations.
The guide also advises people to be mindful of their eating habits and connect to the eating experience. This can help them become more aware of their habits and make positive changes. “Healthy eating is more than the foods you eat. It’s about your whole relationship with food,” said Canada’s Minister of Health, The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor. And last but not least, the guide wants everyone to enjoy their food!