Weighing in on Canada’s new Food Guide

Weighing in on Canada’s new Food Guide
Claudette Pelletier-Hannah

You may have heard that Canada’s new Food Guide was released this week, the first major revision in 12 years. Gone are the four food groups, meaning meat and dairy no longer have rock star status. Instead? We are advised to regularly consume protein foods. Eat more plant-based proteins. Make water our drink of choice.

Wow! This is new, and long overdue.

As stated on the Government website, “The new release was developed on a scientific basis examining the links between food, nutrients and health.” That’s a good goal, but most importantly, the Canada Food Guide no longer panders to industry, i.e.: meat, dairy, or juice. Halleluiah!

I don’t know why it took 12 years. Yes, 1,000s of stakeholders were consulted. Perhaps it was worth the wait, because we finally have something that doesn’t dance around sound advice.

None of this science or healthy behaviour is really new. Heck, even I have written on many of these topics. The new guide takes us back to how our mothers and grandmothers ate. Yes, not just what to eat, but how to eat. We should be mindful of our eating habits, cook more and eat with others, for example.

Societally, we are slowly moving back in the direction of consuming less meat, sugar, consuming more plants, and hopefully less processed food. Just look around. We now have restaurants that cater to vegetarians and vegans. Not that we all need to go meatless, but the needle is moving, even though we still have a long way to go for a real cultural shift.

Missing from the guide is anything about portion sizes. That will come later this year. The old guide would have me eat six servings of grains each day – not possible or desirable.

What would I write about portions? I’d start with this. “Notice how much is enough for you by getting used to feeling satisfied versus full.”

Even if you’ve never consulted the food guide and think it doesn’t matter, it does. Institutions of all kinds, from daycares to hospitals follow Canada’s Food Guide. Things won’t change overnight, but the possibilities are exciting.

The new guide is definitely healthier. And it’s certainly healthier for animals and the planet we all walk on. Thank-you, Canada.

See Canada’s Food Guide here.