Twelve years we have waited for an improvement in Canada’s Food Guide, and it is finally here! Released just days ago, the 2019 Canada Food Guide represents a total overhaul of the Food Guide we have loved to hate for over a decade – and it is awesome!
Total overhaul, yes indeed. For example:
- Gone is the requirement to eat a certain number of servings of food groups each day. Good, because caloric need is widely variable amongst individuals, and following the old guide actually resulted in weight gain for the average woman over 50 as well as older men. Instead, we are advised to eat in accordance with the plate pictured above (more details below).
- Gone is the advice to have 2-3 tablespoons of oil or fat each day. Good, because purposely adding this amount of fat chalks up 250-390 calories – which can be as much as 25% of the total calorie needs for some adults who are trying to lose weight – and you haven’t had any food yet!
- Fruit juice no longer counts as a fruit. The 2019 Food Guide recommends minimizing fruit juice and sugar sweetened milk, and recommends that water should be our beverage of choice.
- The ‘milk and alternatives’ and ‘meat and alternatives’ food groups are no longer – these are now included under ‘protein foods’ (see below). (Note that dairy and meat have not been ‘dropped’ from the food guide as some attention-grabbing headlines might make you think.)
The 2019 Food Guide is very user friendly, with a fantastic online format that is very worth it to explore. There are two screens, each with easily clickable links to delve in more deeply.
SCREEN 1 (Plate pictured above): Eat a variety of healthy foods each day.
- Have plenty of vegetables and fruit.
- Eat protein foods. Choose protein foods that come from plants more often.
- Choose whole grain foods.
- Make water your drink of choice.
The second screen focuses on how we eat, which is such an important part of eating healthily. As I discuss with my patients who are struggling with their weight, they most often have a good understanding of what is a healthy food choice and what is not – it is the emotional relationship with food, or food habits (skipping meals, not having time to cook, etc) that present the biggest challenges. Included in this section is some great advice on food choices, but also on other factors about how we eat that are important to consider:
- Be mindful of your eating habits. (e.g. were you hungry? did you eat slowly? (it takes 10-15 minutes into a meal for our intestines to release hormone signals to our brain to tell us that we are feeling full))
- Cook more often. (including advice about becoming a big batch cook, and time saving tools)
- Enjoy your food.
- Eat meals with others.
- Use food labels.
- Beware of food marketing.
- Limit foods high in sodium, sugars, or saturated fat.
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