Health Canada unveiled Canada’s new Food Guide
last month, emphasizing both healthy dietary choices and a focus on healthy eating habits to better meet the needs of Canadians.
The new food guide’s advice includes:
- Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits
- Eat protein foods with an emphasis on plant-based sources
- Choose whole grain foods
- Make water your drink of choice
It also encourages behaviours like:
- Cook more often
- Enjoy food
- Be mindful of eating habits
- Eat meals with others
“Despite several key changes from the last food guide, a lot of the guiding principles remain the same: eat a variety of healthy foods,” said Henry Lau, coordinator for healthy eating and food security in the population and public health program at the BCCDC. “The new food guide encourages plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grain foods and protein foods, with an emphasis on plant-based proteins such as lentils and beans.”
Registered dietitians from the BCCDC’s healthy eating and food security program say they were pleased to see that the new food guide provides a less prescriptive approach to healthy eating by stepping away from servings and serving size and moving toward general healthy eating habits.
The previous guide categorized food into four groups, displayed in a rainbow with recommended daily servings for each. The new food guide shows a plate that illustrates a balanced meal, half filled with vegetables and fruit, a quarter with proteins and another quarter with whole grains. It also suggests limiting consumption of highly-processed foods with extra sodium, sugar and saturated fat.
While the shift provides simple, concrete advice, the recommendations may be unattainable to some Canadians.
“There is a large emphasis on produce, which can be more expensive and less available depending on where you live,” said Lau. “While processed foods tend to be higher in unhealthy fats, refined sugars and sodium, many Canadians have to rely on these foods because they don’t have the adequate income or food system that allows them to make the choice between processed or fresh foods.”