The Government of Canada unveiled a new and improved Canada’s Food Guide earlier this week! A upgrade to the recommended food guide has been long anticipated by the health professionals. After nearly 12 years (the last food guide was release in 2007!) it seems the government’s recommendations have finally caught up to the research! Gone are the days of segregated food groups and a large emphasis of milk and grain products. Instead, the new food guide has a large emphasis on cooking at home, whole food and plant based eating, as well as eating mindfully.
Here are some things to look for in the new Canada’s Food Guide!
1. There are no longer “food groups”, but rather an example of what your plate should look like. This is an awesome improvement because people do not eat food groups, they eat meals. This visual example is much more helpful when deciding what to eat as there are no complicated food group servings to keep track of. Instead, they recommend half the plate should be fruits and vegetables, a quarter portion of protein, and a quarter portion of whole grains. This is much simpler than the previous guide, and therefore much more realistic to follow.
2. Protein no longer refers to just meat and dairy products. The previous food guide had a “milk and alternatives” as well as “meat and alternatives” sections. How confusing! This has now been boiled down into one simple component, protein. As shown by the new food guide, the protein component could include animal products such as eggs and meat, but also shows equally satisfying and protein rich plant products such as legumes, nuts, seeds and tofu. This is great for those looking for plant based protein alternatives. Further, everyone knows animal products (particular meats) are expensive. Incorporating more plant based protein products into your diet you can ensure you are getting an adequate serving of protein at each meal without stressing your budget.
3. Water is the only recommended beverage! Despite all the available beverages out there, water is the only drink you really need. Besides the occasional coffee or tea, stick to water. Juice, alcohol, and sports drinks are loaded with sugar and do not support healthy living.
4. The new food guide acknowledges that healthy eating is more than just the foods you eat. It is also about where, when, why and how you eat. We love this! The new food guide recommends practicing mindful eating including taking time to eat, noticing when you are hungry and stopping when you are full. It also emphasizes culture and social dynamics of food. They recommend cooking more at home, involving others in meal planning and preparation, and most importantly enjoying your food.
5. The new food guide recommends using food labels to make the best choices by limiting foods high in sodium, sugars, artificial ingredients and saturated fat. The guide also recommends being aware of food marketing! Cheap, low quality, low nutrient foods are the ones most often advertised to us on TV, bus ads and social media. Think about all the ads you see for pop, chips, candy, fast food and other low quality snacks and when is the last time you saw an ad for broccoli? Probably never. In general, it is best to avoid the foods that are being advertised to you and be aware of the food media/marketing you are consuming.
We highly recommend checking out the revised Canada’s Food Guide for additional information including recipe ideas, healthy eating on a budget, and eating well for the environment. There are also some “tips and tricks” for getting started so you can make the best choices for your health and your family.