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New Food Guide for Canadians

08 / 04 / 19

Canada’s Food Guide has been updated. The old rainbow cartoon imagery has gone and is now replaced with real food photographic images. The four food groups have gone and are now replaced with broader advice, divided into food choices and healthy eating habits. The key image is a plate of food divided into three sections (vegetables and fruits, protein foods, wholegrains) with a glass of water on the side. Plant foods dominate.

The Guidelines are:

(Food choices)

Make it a habit to eat a variety of healthy foods each day.

  • Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, whole grain foods and protein foods. Choose protein foods that come from plants more often.
    • Choose foods with healthy fats instead of saturated fat
  • Limit highly processed foods. If you choose these foods, eat them less often and in small amounts.
    • Prepare meals and snacks using ingredients that have little to no added sodium, sugars or saturated fat
    • Choose healthier menu options when eating out
  • Make water your drink of choice
    • Replace sugary drinks with water
  • Use food labels
  • Be aware that food marketing can influence your choices

(Healthy eating habits)

Healthy eating is more than the foods you eat. It is also about where, when, why and how you eat.

  • Be mindful of your eating habits
    • Take time to eat
    • Notice when you are hungry and when you are full
  • Cook more often
    • Plan what you eat
    • Involve others in planning and preparing meals
  • Enjoy your food
    • Culture and food traditions can be a part of healthy eating
  • Eat meals with others

The inclusion of mindful eating, cooking more and social and cultural aspects of eating are new additions. Another departure has been an effort to make the guideline development independent of the food industry. Health Canada declared that "during the policy development of the new Canada's Food Guide, officials from Health Canada's Office of Nutrition Policy and Promotion will not be meeting with representatives from the food and beverage industry."

The commentary around the new Guide have been around the absence of milk on the plate, the removal of fruit juice recommendations, the emphasis on plant foods, the absence of any quantitative advice in favour of encouraging balance, and the use of “protein foods” as collective term for both animal and plant foods. Many have praised the emphasis on the social and behavioural aspects of eating, however some have said the Guide did not go far enough to enshrine environmental sustainability.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines last updated in 2013 are due for review.

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