Health Canada launched its new Food Guide last week, rebranding itself boldly from a rainbow to a plate.
Creation of this “evidence-based” scientific food guide was unique in that it had a transparent process that excluded industry representatives as well as industry-funded research. Furthermore, it engaged with Indigenous academics, health professionals and National Indigenous Organizations to create a “Considerations for Indigenous People” component that has not yet been released. It has also modernized, containing a series of online resources for the public that can be found at https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/, Here are the key messages:
• Vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and protein foods should be consumed regularly. Among protein foods, consume plant-based choices more often (legumes, beans, nuts, seeds)
• Foods that contain mostly unsaturated fat should replace foods that contain mostly saturated fat. (More plant and fish fats, less meat and butter fats.)
• Water should be the beverage of choice (There you go! In writing!)
• Limit highly processed foods and beverages. They are high in sodium, sugar and saturated fat and can increase your risk of chronic disease.
• Read food labels and be aware that food marketing can influence your choices.
• There are health risks associated with alcohol consumption.
• Foods and beverages offered in publicly funded institutions should align with Canada’s Dietary Guidelines (this includes schools, hospitals, arenas, community centres…)
• Be mindful of your eating habits, cook more often, enjoy your food, eat meals with others.
The new food guide takes a strong chronic disease prevention stance, using a tool previously used in diabetes education, that we called “The Plate.” The diameter of the plate is not stated, but I imagine you can adjust it according to your age and activity level. For those wondering, “What happened to the milk and alternatives food group?” These foods remain important sources of calcium and vitamin D and now fall under the “protein foods” group. The new guide states, “Options other than water can include lower fat white milk, unsweetened fortified plant-based beverages, and unsweetened coffee and tea.”