Is Canada's Food Guide Going Plant-Based?

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Canada’s upgraded Food Guide was launched this past Tuesday and it has created quite a buzz! The iconic rainbow has been ditched in favour of a more relevant, simplified plate model. We’re seeing a shift toward mindful eating and plant-based foods to keep up with the latest evidence and recommendations from Canada’s nutrition experts: registered dietitians! Today we’re sharing the key messages in the new guide and how you can put them into practice.

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Have Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables

The new model features a colourful plate of plant foods. Health Canada no longer recommends serving sizes, but instead suggests filling half your plate with veggies and fruit. This may be a challenge with the rising prices of fresh produce, but the good news is that frozen and canned varieties can pack just as much nutrition—especially for those not in season. It doesn’t matter so much how you buy your fruits and veggies; variety is key! 

Eat Protein Foods

I love the broader approach to proteins because it makes room for both animal and plant sources and can easily be adapted to suit your cultural practices. Health Canada recommends filling 1/4 of your plate with protein-rich foods like lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products, tofu, beans, lentils, seeds, and nuts. By taking industry influence out of the guide, meat and dairy no longer have their own food groups. Taking milk off the menu has raised concerns about calcium—a mineral many Canadians don’t eat enough of. It’s a great idea to make water your beverage of choice, but that doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate dairy products into your meals. If you choose to eat dairy, adding milk and yogurt to recipes like smoothies and soups is a great way to ensure you meet your calcium needs. For more information on calcium, you can check out our previous blog post here.

Choose Whole Grain Foods

Whole grains offer antioxidants and fibre to maintain gut health, help prevent certain cancers, and control cholesterol levels. The new model features 1/4 plate of whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, wild rice, red quinoa, and brown rice. Choose these options more often than refined, white grains.

Healthy Eating is More Than the Foods You Eat

My favourite upgrade to the food guide is that it also addresses how to eat for optimal health, like practicing mindfulness, cooking at home more often, enjoying meals with others, using food labels to make informed choices, and being aware of food marketing. You can find Canada’s Food Guide along with recipes and tips here.

If you’d like to learn more about behavioural strategies for weight management, book a free consultation with us today. 

Ryan Stallard