What are the new Canada Food Guide Changes?
Huge news out of the food and diet sector today today as a major country – Canada – has officially moved away from its focus on meat and dairy and has put a larger emphasis on whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
One of the biggest takeaway’s is the removal of four food groups, a staple in Canada’s Food Guide since 1977.
The biggest Canada Food Guide changes seems to be the suggestion that Canadians should be eating a lot more plant-based proteins and should reduce the amount of processed meats and saturated fats, which can contribute to cancer, diabetes and other diseases.
There is also the removal of actual portion sizes, which have been seen as confusing and hard to integrate for all Canadians. Now the emphasis is on a balanced diet, meal plans and healthy eating patterns. These all lead to trying to change or influence Canada’s eating behaviors, not just telling Canadians what to eat, but how to eat and prepare the food.
While not everyone refers to the Canadian Food Guidelines, it does serve as an official emphasis on Canadian’s health and wellness.
We feel that the food guide’s suggested meal approach of 50 per cent fruits and vegetables, 25 per cent whole grains and 25 per cent proteins is a great guideline for overall health and wellness, but I’m sure there will be some that disagree with less milk intake and less emphasis on meat.
According to Health Canada’s website, You don’t need to eat large amounts of protein foods to meet your nutritional needs. Try to eat protein foods such as:
- lean meats and poultry
- lean cuts of beef, pork and wild game
- nuts and seeds
- nut butters
- sunflower seeds
- fish and shellfish
- lower fat dairy products
- lower sodium cheeses
- beans, peas and lentils
- brown, green or red or other lentils
- peas such as chickpeas and split peas
- dried beans such as black beans and kidney beans
- fortified soy beverages, tofu, soybeans and other soy products
As you can see it’s not so much a recommendation against meat in general, it’s more the type of meat you consume (so less processed meats or fatty meats is recommended).
How to eat more protein foods that come from plants
Here are some easy ways to eat more protein foods that come from plants:
- Add soft tofu to a blended soup to make it thicker and creamier.
- Try a bean salad, lentil and rice pilaf or a bowl of vegetarian chili for lunch.
- Make your own trail mix by combining your favourite whole grain cereal with a handful of nuts and seeds.
- Spread hummus on the inside of a whole grain pita and fill with vegetables such as romaine lettuce and shredded carrots.
Each week, plan a couple of meatless meals. As your main course, try using:
- beans in a burrito
- tofu in a vegetable stir-fry
- chickpeas and beans in tacos
- lentils in a soup, stew or casserole
Finally, there is an official emphasis from the Canadian government to drink more water – something this blog recommends in our article 46 Brilliant Ways to Keep Your Fitness New Years Resolutions in 2019. The guide also states to reduce alcohol which, “contributes a lot of calories to the diet with little to no nutritive value.”
The importance of Health Canada’s Food Guide is that it is discussed in schools and is an important resource by health professionals in helping Canadians to eat well and stay healthy. It can also influence the foods served and sold at daycares and schools, recreation centres, workplaces and health-care facilities.
We think this is a win for Canada, but are curious if other major countries will start to adopt this thinking? Could the US do this as well? Let us know your comments below.