It has been over 40 years since Canada has updated its dietary recommendations for the public. The 1977 Canada’s Food Guide consisted of 4 main food groups: milk and milk products, meat and alternatives, grain products, and fruits and vegetables, with specific serving size recommendations.
The new guide places emphasis on only 3 food groups: fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and proteins, with the overall message to eat more plants, and less meat and dairy.
While I think a new food guide has been MUCH NEEDED, I wanted to share what I love and what I don’t love about the new guide.
What I don’t love:
1) I’m so confused why there are no sources of fat *emphasized* in a healthy plate. I love the shift from foods high in saturated fats (like meats and dairy) to foods high in mono and polyunsaturated fats from things like nuts, seeds, and avocado which are much higher in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats. However, I still think this plate sends the message that higher fat is not beneficial, which we now know is not true, and is actually health-protective.
2) Some of the fats that ARE recommended still include inflammatory vegetable oils! There is a recommendation on the Canada’s Food Guide website that states, “when you are cooking, replace shortening, lard or hard margarine with oils with healthy fats such as canola, olive and soybean.” Vegetable oils like soybean and canola oil are high in omega-6 fats, which PROMOTE INFLAMMATION in the body. Coconut oil, avocado oil and GHEE are much better options.
3) Where dem weed brownies doe? KIDDING.
On the other hand, there are definitely some major improvements to this guide that I am a big fan of.
What I love:
1) The visual of the plate. I don’t believe specific serving sizes are necessary, and here’s why.
1) Nutritional needs vary HIGHLY for individuals depending on a long list of variables.
2) If people are filling up on primarily fruits and vegetables, blood sugar, hunger and hormones will be much better managed in comparison to a plate full of processed carbohydrates like juices, cereals, and boxed crackers. By simply eating a plate consisting of mostly fruits and veggies, it will be pretty hard to overeat.
3) Most people aren’t weighing or measuring their food anyway. Please show me a picture of your plate of pasta or bowl of cereal… I can guarantee you its not anything close to a proper ‘serving size’.
2) I love the idea of eating more plant-based, whole foods. The lack of highly processed foods on the guide like boxed cereals is huge!! Staying away from processed foods means less sodium, sugar, preservatives, food dyes, and foods that have been stripped of their vitamins, minerals and fiber.
3) Water as a beverage of choice! Although my heart frowns a little that wine isn’t on there hehehe. The guide has moved away from the idea that fruit juices and other sugary drinks are a good option.
4) Dairy isn’t the focus or answer to calcium and strong bones. In fact, countries who consume the highest amount of dairy actually have the highest incidence of osteoporosis. Additionally, in absence of magnesium, calcium is poorly utilized in the body. Milk is not a good source of magnesium, but alternatives like almonds and left green vegetables will provide both calcium and magnesium for optimal absorption.
I am so happy to see changes to the nutritional recommendations for this country. Modern day diseases like obesity, heart disease and cancers can be HUGELY influenced by diet, so it is about time we shift the focus of what we are putting in our bodies as a method for optimizing health and preventing disease.
I do think however it is unfortunate that there is such a time gap between data collection, research studies and important findings to the time it takes for these findings to be implemented in our policies and procedures. We have known for a long time that our eating guidelines were not serving us, so to finally see positive changes on such a large scale makes me optimistic for the future of health wellness of Canadians.
What do you guys think of these new guidelines? Will you follow them?