By: Sue Mah MHSc., RD, PHEc
Your Top 4 Questions About the New Canada’s Food Guide
Canada’s food guide was released on January 22, 2019 with a new look and added recommendations. Are you wondering about some of the new advice? Here are my answers to your top 4 questions.
What happened to the serving sizes and daily recommended servings?
One of the biggest changes in the new Canada’s food guide is that there are no longer any servings sizes or recommended numbers of servings to eat. Instead of food PORTIONS, the focus is now on meal PROPORTIONS.
Half of your plate or bowl is vegetables and fruit; a quarter of the plate is whole grains; and a quarter of the plate is protein foods. Remember to include a good variety of dark green and orange vegetables in your daily mix.
The food guide recommends eating more plant-based foods, so do I have to totally give up meat?
Not at all. Plant-based foods like veggies, fruits, whole grains, nuts and legumes are lower in saturated fat and higher in fibre – and these foods have been shown to lower the chances of developing heart disease, colon cancer and type 2 diabetes. But that doesn’t mean that you have to give up meat completely.
Consider a “flexitarian” (flexible vegetarian) diet. This allows you to enjoy a variety of both plant-based proteins and animal-based proteins – like lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, dairy, eggs, beef, chicken, turkey and pork – all grown by our wonderful Canadian farmers!
Is milk still in the food guide?
Yes, milk, yogurt and cheese now belong in the protein foods grouping. Keep in mind that different protein choices offer a different bundle of other nutrients.
For example, milk contains not only protein but also calcium and vitamin D.
Eggs have protein plus folate, choline and vitamin D.
Meat and poultry are terrific for protein, iron and vitamin B12.
Beans offer protein as well as iron and fibre.
Fatty fish has protein, omega-3 fats and vitamin D. You get the idea.
The bottom line is to choose a variety of protein foods that you enjoy. If you’re not consuming dairy for whatever reason, chat with a dietitian to make sure you’re eating the right variety of foods and drinks to get enough bone-building nutrients.
Will it be expensive to follow the food guide if I have to eat more vegetables and fruit?
Such a great question, and really, the answer depends on the foods you choose. In a survey led by researchers at Dalhousie University and the University of Guelph, 27% of Canadians feel the food guide’s recommendations are not affordable.
When I spoke to our Federal Minister of Health, the Honourable Ginette Petitpas-Taylor, I learned that the food guide image intentionally includes pictures of frozen carrots, frozen broccoli and canned tomatoes because they are more affordable choices. Sure, their taste and texture can be a little different, but these options are just about on par nutrition-wise with fresh.
To eat on a budget and save money on food, take advantage of local produce too when in season and freeze or preserve the harvest to enjoy during the winter months.