The new Canada’s Food Guide unveiled January 22 by Health Canada is no longer a rainbow, but a dinner plate.
The design of the image reflects its dietary guidelines — to cover half your plate with vegetables and fruits, devote a quarter of it to proteins, and the other quarter to whole grain breads, pasta, or whole oats, and brown or wild rice.
The protein category now includes legumes, nuts, seeds, tofu, a wedge of hard boiled egg, three small cubes of beef, three small slices of chicken.
Beside the plate is a glass of water, with a message to ‘make water your drink of choice.’
It’s a guide that takes a modern approach to communicating dietary guidance that meets the broad needs of Canadians, federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said during a press conference in Montreal.
“It puts more focus on what, when and how we eat,” she said. “It gives clear, concise advice that everyone can easily apply to their daily lives.”
The previous guide came under increasing scrutiny on a number of fronts, from too much industry influence on content, to having a confusing message about serving sizes and portions.
This guide’s healthy eating recommendations are straightforward.
‘Nutritious foods are the foundation for healthy eating,’ it says. ‘Vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and protein foods should be consumed regularly. Among protein foods, consume plant based more often.’
“It’s not about portion per se, but perhaps about proportion in terms of what you take onto your plates,” Dr. Hasan Hutchinson, director general of Health Canada’s Office of Nutrition Policy and Promotion, Health Products and Food Branch told reporters during a technical briefing prior to the guide’s launch.
The new guide also says to ‘choose foods with healthy fats instead of saturated fat,’ ‘limit highly processed foods,’ and ‘if you choose these foods, eat them less often and in small amounts.’
The new guide also speaks to food skills and healthy food habits, such as ‘be mindful of your eating habits,’ such as noticing when you are hungry and when you are full, to cook more often and involve others in meal planning and preparation, and enjoy food.
“Culture and food tradition can be a part of healthy eating,” it also says.
Health Canada will release more documents later this year that include healthy eating pattern suggestions.
Meanwhile, Canada’s new food guide is now fully accessible online and mobile friendly.
It likely won’t be long before the guide is updated again, too. Health Canada is committed to staying abreast of all new nutritional science as it comes forward, Hutchinson said in the briefing.
“There’s a commitment to really stay on top of the evidence and make sure that our guidance is evergreen,” he said.
Visit the Government of Canada website for more information about the new Canada’s Food Guide.