It’s here! The new Canada Food Guide was announced on Jan. 22, 2019 at 10:00 am in Montreal, Quebec by the Honourable Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas-Taylor. Being so anticipated, it was more like a birth announcement than a revealing.
Here’s the scoop. Where the food guides from the past have had specific instructions based on scientific nutrient intakes (the four food groups) and nutritional requirements (servings sizes), this new guide’s instructions encourage us to be a little more intuitive when it comes to choosing our foods. Vitamin, minerals and calories from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins have been replaced with suggestions for healthy food choices and eating habits.
- Food Choices: Make it a habit to eat a variety of healthy foods each day.
- Limit highly processed food. If you choose these foods, eat them less often and in small amounts.
- Make water your drink of choice.
- Use food labels.
- Be aware that food marketing can influence your choices.
- 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.
- Cook more often.
- Enjoy your food.
- Eat meals with others.
Other than a bunch of recipes, cooking tips, and resource sites, the best Canadians can hope for from the new guide is that they get enough calories, meet their micro- and macro-nutrient needs, and can afford the time and cost of finding and preparing all those fruits and vegetables. This new advice is common sense and most Canadians know they should be trying to achieve the above. However, there are a few things to consider…
Replacing milk and juice with water is not going to help us meet our nutrient intakes to prevent nutrient deficient diseases nor is it going to sustain us when the body is requiring fuel. The same holds true about putting too many vegetables on our plates and not enough of the calorie dense fats and proteins. Moderation has always been something North America has struggled with and perhaps initiatives like getting the food industry to provide consistent and appropriate serving sizes for their products would be a good place to start. The good news is that our Minister of Health said it was a work in progress and that there was more to come. When it comes to nutritional deficiencies, it’s hard to be intuitive with nutrients that are, well…microscopic. I would hate to see diseases like scurvy, rickets and anemia showing up in our healthcare system again. Canada’s food guide worked hard to minimize those diseases that plagued our ancestors. Starting brand new with a food guide that’s pretty, but also pretty vague, hopefully will be followed by a handbook that helps us navigate ourselves right out of this obesity epidemic.