Health Canada’s updated manual for healthy eating offers fewer hard-and-fast rules and broader advice about how to live better. Here are some of the highlights
The federal government has dramatically overhauled its iconic Canada’s Food Guide,introducing this week a new, simplified approach that encourages plant-based eating and reduces the emphasis on meat and dairy.
For the past four decades, Health Canada has instructed Canadians that a healthy diet consists of specific servings across “four food groups.” The new guide does away with these four groups, reducing it to three: “Eat plenty of Fruits and Vegetables”, “Eat protein foods”, and “Make water your drink of choice.” Gone too is information about what makes up a serving size for different types of food.
The new guide also introduces new warnings against alcohol consumption, includes specific warnings about what not to eat (processed and prepared foods that are high in sodium, free sugars and saturated fats), and instruction on behaviours associated with healthy eating patterns (e.g. cooking at home and ‘mindful’ eating).
When Canada’s Official Food Rules debuted in 1942, it was designed for a country at war. The goal was to keep the more than one million men and women in the armed services healthy and strong, with rules designed to maximize energy levels. A daily diet, for example, included a half pint of milk and “4 to 6 slices of Canada Approved Bread” each day. The rules were also meant for everyone else living with wartime rations and poverty.
By the mid-century, the thinking began to shift. Worldwide food shortages and an increasing understanding about the health effects of overeating led the 1949 guide to include a stern warning: “More,” the guide stated, “is not necessarily better.” By 1961, the document was renamed from “rules” to “guide.” With each subsequent version, the guide moved further and further away from recommendations on specific ingredients and more toward general “food groups.”
While the food guides of the past have been preoccupied with telling Canadians what to eat, this new guide is equally focused on telling people what not to eat and how to eat.
Healthy Eating Recommendations
The Guide recommends the following:
1. Be mindful of your eating habits
- Take time to eat
- Notice when you are hungry and when you are full
2. Cook more often
- Plan what you eat
- Involve others in planning and preparing meals
3. Enjoy your food
- Culture and food tradition can be a part of healthy eating
4. Eat meals with others
5. Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits\, whole grain foods and protein foods. Choose protein foods that come from plants more often.
- Choose foods with healthy fats instead of saturated fat
6. Limit highly processed foods. If you choose these foods\, eat them less often and in small amounts.
- Prepare meals and snacks using ingredients that have little to no added sodium, sugars or saturated fat
- Choose healthier menu options when eating out
7. Make water your drink of choice
- Replace sugary drinks with water
8. Read food labels
9. Be aware that food marketing can influence your choices
Download the guide here:https://food-guide.canada.ca/static/assets/pdf/CDG-EN-2018.pdf