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A Balanced Diet: Canada's New Food Guide

Updated: Jul 2, 2019

Canada's new food guide emphasises that healthy eating is more than the foods you eat. It encourages you to be mindful of your eating habits, cook more often, enjoy your food and eat meals with others. Equally important to do is to use food labels, limit foods high in sodium, sugars or saturated fat, and to be aware of food marketing.

My favourite part: "Make water your drink of choice". Everyone stresses on the importance of eating right, which is definitely important, but I think water consumption deserves more attention, a lot more than it currently receives. Here's this week's blog on the new food guide.

The revised food-guide unveiled Tuesday, the first in 12 years, reflects a new approach by Health Canada aimed at promoting healthier eating and lifestyle choices, rather than focusing on serving sizes and specific foods.

In the past, Canada's Food Guide has stated meat, dairy and eggs as being foundational in our diets. The new food guide has made a bold statement by giving nutrient-dense and fibre-rich plant foods the prominence they deserve.

"What is striking about the new Canada's Food Guide is the shift to a broader approach -- talking not only about what Canadians should eat, but also how they should eat," said Nathalie Savoie of the Dieticians of Canada, who appeared with Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor at the official unveiling in Montreal on Tuesday. "The recommendations and online tools for consumers are easy to understand, evidence-informed and in line with the type of guidance that dieticians already use with their patients, clients and communities," she said.

Canadians should eat vegetables, fruits, whole grains and should choose plant-based proteins -- such as legumes, nuts and tofu -- more regularly, the guide says. It also stresses that Canadians should make water their beverage of choice as a way to stay hydrated without consuming calories. The previous guide said Canadians should consume two to four "milk and alternatives" servings a day, depending on their age. In eliminating specific food and portion recommendations, the guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group.

The new guide also takes pointed aim at alcohol with a dedicated section that characterises it as "a leading global health concern". It notes long-term consumption is associated with increased risk of many types of cancer and other serious health conditions including hypertension and liver disease. It also mentions social problems associated with drinking, and the 3,100 deaths and 77,000 hospitalisations related to alcohol in 2016. It ends by advising those who don’t drink to never be encouraged to start, and urging those who do drink to limit themselves to Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines.

Considering the fact that alcohol is the only food product that does not have nutrition information on its containers and the only legal psychoactive product that does not need to be labelled with mandatory health warnings, I wonder if our new food guide is suggesting those gaps need to be addressed.

Anyways, here's my five point takeaway from the new guide:

- No more "four food groups"

- No more portions....rather have proportions

- Drink more water

- Cut down consumption of processed foods

- Practice mindful nutrition

Is that enough "food for thought" for a Thursday afternoon? I guess so! As always, do feel free to share my blog posts, comment or reach out to me.


Healthcare Consultant, in4MED


Canada's Food Guide:

The author of this blog post is a Physician with over 10 years of experience working in the healthcare system as a clinician, researcher and educator. She is passionate about healthcare for older adults and strives to be a resourceful inspiration to caregivers.

**No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional.

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