You may remember learning about Canada’s Food Guide in school and its brightly coloured rainbow depicting the types of foods and the number of servings you should have per day. It may surprise you to learn that this version of the food guide had not been updated until 12 years ago.
With chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer on the rise, and over 61 percent of Canadians considered overweight or obese,1 nutrition is seen as a preventative measure to improve the health of Canadians.
The revamped Canada’s Food Guide, released January 22 of this year, offers a fresh approach to achieving a heathier diet. It is a call to action for Canadians to make changes to their overall diets in support of healthy eating, rather than strictly following the rainbow and associated servings that we have become used to.
The new version of the food guide is consistent with what dietitians have been using to empower clients to make sustainable, nutritious food choices for their individual needs.
By focusing more on the overall foods on one’s plate and frequency of meals, rather than numbers of servings to consume, dietitians can provide simple and practical recommendations associated with lowered disease risk including cardiovascular disease, colon cancer and type 2 diabetes.4-10
The visual suggests Canadians fill half their plate with vegetables and fruits at every meal, leaving the rest of the plate to be made up of protein and whole grain products. This encourages Canadians to build meals that resonate with their own taste and cultural preferences.
A balanced diet is key to nutrition success and the main recommendations of Canada’s Food Guide include:
- An assortment of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and protein form the basis of a healthier diet
- Incorporating more fruits and vegetables is important as it may lower risk of heart disease.11 These foods are high in fibre, providing additional benefits for weight management and appetite control and packed with antioxidants. At meals, include plenty of vegetables and fruit, both fresh, raw, or canned (low sodium), striving for half your plate.
- In addition to traditional protein sources like dairy and meat, plant-based options should be considered. Plant-based sources of protein include: tofu, tempeh, edamame and textured vegetable protein; pulses such as chickpeas, dried beans and lentils nuts; seeds and their butters such as almonds and almond butter or sunflower and sunflower seed butter. Plant-based eating has been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer, and can be helpful in maintaining a healthy weight.4-10
If you are interested in incorporating more plant-based proteins into your meals, start by introducing meatless Mondays – one day of the week that encourages you to get creative with your recipes and have fun with alternative proteins. Swap beef burgers for black bean burgers.
- Choosing whole grains is important as the additional fibre is important for lowering your risk of stroke, colon cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.12 Examples of whole grains include quinoa, whole grain pasta/bread/cereals, oatmeal, and whole grain brown or wild rice.
- Replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats.
- We know that increased intake of saturated fats increases or risk of heart disease13. Encouraging foods high in unsaturated fats such as fatty fish like salmon or mackerel, nuts and seeds can have health-promoting nutrients.
- Drink water.
This new guide is for every Canadian as it emphasizes that healthy eating is about more than just the foods we eat and encourages cooking more often, enjoying food, being mindful of eating habits and eat together with family and friends. It also delivers on including cultural diversity and environment sustainability. What is new and important in this food guide is the notion of being mindful of our eating habits to make healthier choices, reconnecting with the eating experience to notice when you are hungry and when you are full and creating a healthy eating environment.
About the author: Emily Campbell, MScFN RD, has a master of science in foods and nutrition and is a registered dietitian who works for Shoppers Drug Mart®.
Do you have questions about the changes to Canada’s Food Guide or are you looking to take control of your health and improve your diet? Your Shopper’s Drug Mart and Wellwise registered dietitians are available for personalized nutrition advice tailored to your health needs. For more information, visit shoppersdrugmart.ca/dietitiansor wellwise.ca/dietitiansto book you appointment today.
The information provided is for personal use, reference and education only and is not intended to be a substitute for a physician’s advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your healthcare professional for specific information on personal health matters. Please note: Dietitian services are currently only available in select Ontario stores. Please contact your store to learn more. ®/TM 911979 Alberta Ltd. ©2018 Shoppers Drug Mart Inc.
- Statistics Canada. 2017. Measured body mass index, Canadian Community Health Survey – Nutrition, 2015. Available from: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/170801/dq170801a-eng.htm
- Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. 2018. Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Global burden of disease (GBD) profile: Canada
- Global Burden of Disease 2013 Risk Factors Collaborators. Global, regional, and national comparative risk assessment of 79 behavioural, environmental and occupational, and metabolic risks or clusters of risks in 188 countries, 1990–2013: a systematic analysis for the global burden of disease study 2013. Lancet. 2015;386(10010):2287–2323.
- Anderson TJ, Grégoire J, Pearson GJ, Barry AR, Couture P, Dawes M, et al. 2016 Canadian Cardiovascular Society guidelines for the management of dyslipidemia for the prevention of cardiovascular disease in the adult. Can J Cardiol. 2016;32(11):1263–1282.
- Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition. 2015. Carbohydrates and health report. Norwich: Public Health England.
- Health Canada. 2014. Summary of Health Canada’s assessment of a health claim about ground whole flaxseed and blood cholesterol lowering.
- Health Canada. 2012. Summary of Health Canada’s assessment of a health claim about barley products and blood cholesterol lowering.
- Health Canada. 2010. Summary of assessment of a health claim about oat products and blood cholesterol lowering.
- Health Canada. 2016. Summary of Health Canada’s assessment of a health claim about vegetables and fruit and heart disease.
- Health Canada. 2015. Summary of Health Canada’s assessment of a health claim about soy protein and cholesterol lowering.
- Health Canada. 2019. Eat Vegetables and Fruit. Available from: https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/healthy-eating-recommendations/make-it-a-habit-to-eat-vegetables-fruit-whole-grains-and-protein-foods/eat-vegetables-and-fruits/
- Health Canada. 2019. Eat Whole Grain Foods. Available from: https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/healthy-eating-recommendations/make-it-a-habit-to-eat-vegetables-fruit-whole-grains-and-protein-foods/eat-whole-grain-foods/
- Health Canada. 2019. Limit Highly Processed Foods. Available from: https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/healthy-eating-recommendations/limit-highly-processed-foods/