The New Canada Food Guide is out, and there’s some surprising changes.
by Natalie Bruckner
Nutrition can be so confusing. One minute we are being told to drink more milk and avoid carbs, the next, to cut back on dairy and to include carbs as part of our healthy eating plan. So before you start measuring your next portion size, stop! The all new Canada’s Food Guide is out and it hopes to provide some clarity on the do’s and don’ts of healthy eating. Released earlier this year by the Government of Canada, the latest guide waves goodbye to traditional thinking and has some surprises up its sleeve.
First introduced in 1942, the food guide (then called the Official Food Rules) has undergone a number of revisions as our understanding of nutrition science has evolved, however the latest update, released in January, is the first rewrite since 2007 and its findings are far easier to digest.
The interactive online tool is based on a rigorous scientific review and excludes industry-commissioned reports to maintain confidence of Canadians. Gone are the recommended serving sizes and the rainbow of the old four food groups, and in their place are recommendations for a plant-heavy eating plan that resembles diets seen across the pond. So what’s new? “Meat and alternatives” have been scrapped, and in its place the guide suggests that half your plate is made up of fruits and vegetables, a quarter with protein (from plant-based sources such as beans, lentils and nuts) and the other quarter with whole grain foods. It also advises us to be aware of food marketing, to cook more often, eat meals with others, and ultimately, to just enjoy food!
“The shift away from animal proteins to plant-based proteins is huge and will have the biggest impact on health and wellness, and also on the environment. It’s great to see the government factor sustainability into its recommendations,” says registered dietitian Jennifer Howker, founder of Apple Tree Nutrition Consulting who promotes nutrition education here in B.C.
“The biggest change is our understanding of gut health and the importance of the microorganisms that live in our gut.
We are beginning to understand the huge effect these bacteria
have on our mental and physical health,” says Howker.
When it comes to drinks, water, hot or cold, remains the elixir of life and is recommended as your drink of choice, and to add some spice, the guide advises adding fruits and herbs like blackberries and mint, or raspberries and cucumber. Unsweetened and lower fat white milk, soy and almond beverages are included as other healthy drink options, while soda, hot chocolate and those specialty teas and coffees we all love so much are on the “drinks to limit” list, as is alcohol, due to its links with liver disease and
some types of cancer. Sorry, we didn’t write it!
And let’s not forget, that many of the foods listed are grown right here in Delta! “Eating local has so many benefits,” says Howker. “Local food is full of flavour and nutrients; it is less likely that the nutrient value has decreased when there is a shorter time between harvest and your table, especially for produce such as broccoli, green beans, red peppers, tomatoes, apricots and peaches.
Eating local is better for the environment and promotes a safer food supply as well.”