• The latest version of Canada’s food guide came out in 2019, replacing the 2007 version that had remained unchanged until this moment. The new guide has for goal to establish the basis of what is taught to children in schools.

    It is also intended for healthcare professionals to help them make suggestions to their patients regarding eating habits.

    The Main Changes in The New Food Guide

    Here are the key findings in the explanatory documents supplied by Health Canada to present the new food guide.

    1. No more portions

    The 2007 version of CFG was often said to generate obesity, when, in reality, the portions were to be adjusted depending on age and sex. But most people overestimated the portion sizes.

    When multiplying the portions by the average number of calorie of the group you belong into, you can see the previous food guide does not support excess intakes.

    These excesses sometimes came from the fifth and absent food group: unhealthy foods (including treats, sweet desserts, sodas, etc.).

    However, Health Canada did publish a “resource for healthcare professionals and communicators”. This document included a food intake pattern with more precise tips on quantities and types of food.

    2. New food groups

    Vegetables and fruits, protein foods, and whole grain foods are the 3 categories of the latest version. In fact, these are not really food groups, but rather a way to help you create balanced meals.

    As for beverages, water is highly recommended, but other drinks are not denied, except sugary drinks and alcohol. Health Canada repeats that the latter have no nutritious ingredients and are rich in calories and free sugars. Plus, they are linked to chronic diseases.

    3. More protein! (Yay for plant-based protein!)

    Canada’s new food guide supports the consumption of plant-based foods and, in fact, focuses on protein. It is suggested that we eat lentils (yum, lentil patties!), lean meats, and fish, and drink milk (yes… milk!) and unsweetened fortified soy beverages.

    On the balanced meal image of the new guide, we can see red meat (among other things), even though it is recommended to limit our consumption since it is linked to higher risks of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

    Chicken (or poultry), Grenoble walnuts, salmon, eggs, tofu (what is the best tofu?), chickpeas (try this chickpea salad wrap, it’s delicious!), almonds, lentils, red beans, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and yogurt are also featured.

    4. Emphasis on low-fat products

    In the new food guide, Health Canada encourages multiple times Canadians to eat low-fat products and make better choices concerning the lipids (fats) they consume. Try eating mostly unsaturated fats rather than saturated fats.

    Health Canada is not saying you should decrease your total lipid intake, but rather aims to sensitize Canadians to make better choices.

    A 2%, or even 5%, m.f. yogurt remains an informed choice that’s low in fat. One key role of lipids is to contribute to satiety, so they definitely have their place in a balanced and varied diet.

    No need to feel guilty if you eat ice cream every once in a while, even if it is not recommended in Canada’s food guide… Common sense is also important to deal with these recommendations.

    5. Dairy products are still a part of the new food guide

    Despite the controversies concerning the removal of the dairy product group, these foods still have their place in the food guide. Although the focus is less on them (as shown in the balanced plate that only features one portion of yogurt), milk, cheese, yogurt, and even kefir are mentioned in Health Canada’s documents.

    However, it is indeed recommended that you choose low-fat versions of these products, especially if you eat them frequently.

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    The guide suggests to eat in good company and to take the time to enjoy your food.The psychologic aspect of food is barely mentionned, and the guide mostly talks about the medical aspect of a healthy diet, which helps reduce the risks of developping diseases.

    Hurray for Culture!

    This new version promotes culture and talks about transmitting these traditions to future generations and sharing them with new communities. Canada is a country where multiple cultures converge, which allows us to experience new flavours from all around the world.

    Develop Cooking Skills

    In this revamped version, Health Canada wants Canadians to start cooking more at home with foods of great nutritional values, which also promotes a healthy lifestyle and diet.

    For several years now, the popularity of prepared meals and highly transformed food products has affected the culinary skills of the population, who generally prefers these easy options.

    In addition, the transmission of culinary knowledge has greatly decreased, which will most likely result in a decline of cooking skills in the next few decades.

    A Place for Environment!

    Canada’s food guide gives little place to the environment in the short version but still details the main points. It is said that knowledge on food habits can help reduce household waste in Canada.

    Indeed, methods of production, transformation, distribution, and consumption of food as well as loss and waste can have great impacts on the environment. A better awareness to the importance of decreasing food waste is the first required step.

    Recommendations from The New 2019 Canada’s Food Guide

    • Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and protein-rich foods (among the latter, especially those of plant origin) should be consumed regularly.
    • Foods containing mostly saturated lipids should be replaced by those containing mostly unsaturated lipids.
    • Water should be your first choice of beverage.
    • Consumption of products that are prepared or transformed contribute to excessive sodium, free sugars, and saturated lipids intakes, which negatively impact a healthy diet. It should therefore be significantly reduced.
    • Alcohol consumption is associated to high health risks.
    • Cooking and preparing meals with foods of great nutritional value as a way to eat healthily is promoted.
    • Food labels are tools to help Canadians make informed choices.

    In summary, the new 2019 version of Canada’s food guide is a little oversimplistic but remains efficient. It is colourful and suggestive. Most of all, it brings us back to what is essential: cuisine, natural ingredients, and cooking skills. It is based on other guides such as Brazil’s, Sweden’s, and Belgium’s versions.

    Is it revolutionary? No. But it’s quite complete. Will it drastically change your eating habits? Maybe not.

    However, it serves as a reminder of key elements: eating better for yourself and your health by making the best informed choices possible.