The federal government has dramatically overhauled Canada’s Food Guide, introducing a new, simplified approach which was created with the help of academic experts from various Schools of Nutrition in Universities across Canada.
For the past four decades, Health Canada has instructed Canadians that a healthy diet consists of specific servings across four food groups (fruit & veg/dairy/meat & alternatives/grains). The new guide not only does away with these groups but also eliminates serving numbers and sizes altogether (encouraging proportion as opposed to portion). This shift isn’t surprising as it reflects current trends and research.
Here is a snapshot of the new Canada’s Food Guide which now has three food groups:
- Eat a variety of healthy foods each day:
- Have plenty of vegetables & fruit
- Eat protein (meat, dairy & plant based) choosing those from plants more often
- Choose whole grain foods
- Make water your drink of choice (replacing/reducing sugary drinks & alcohol)
- Healthy eating is more than the foods you eat:
- Be mindful of eating habits- take time & pay attention to hunger cues
- Cook more often – plan healthy meals & involve others
- Enjoy your food/eat with others– culture & traditions can be part of healthy eating
- Read food labels
- Limit processed foods high in sodium, sugars or saturated fat
- Be aware of food marketing which can influence your choices
The message in these changes is clear: Eat more plants, and less meat and dairy. Even within the “protein” category, meat and dairy are de-emphasized based on research that shows that the regular intake of plant-based foods – vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and plant-based proteins – can have positive effects on health, including lower risk of cardiovascular disease, colon cancer and type 2 diabetes.
This shift away from meats and dairy has sparked fierce opposition from the respective industries, with meat producers citing that meat should not be equated with plant-based proteins and dairy producers stating that the new guidelines could be detrimental to the long-term health of future generations as well as having a negative impact on farmers.
Written by Natasha Decaire, Marketing Insights & Communications at Tree of Life Canada