On January 22, 2019, Health Canada launched it’s new and improved food guide. To much surprise, it’s not a rainbow of food groups or a pyramid of foods but more so a plate full of nutritious food. A plate-that’s right, that precious porcelain plate or the ever so common”Corningware” that we use for food. No serving sizes. Just a variety of foods segregated in 3 simple, eye-pleasing categories-fruits and vegetables, protein and grains. If you haven’t yet seen the guide, click below to read Health Canada’s release on the guide:
Adapting a healthy eating pattern includes food and drinks that are included in your daily meals. What you eat on a day to day basis impacts your health and health outcomes.
The New Canada Food Guide does not really focus on servings or amounts of foods keeping in mind that the type of food you choose to eat matters most. For example, choosing water over juice is a better choice. Choosing fruit over juice…better! Choosing fresh over processed…better. You get the point?! It also focuses on positive food habits such as making food at home and eating together which really make meals more nutritious.
Some easy tips to eat well:
- Follow the 80/20 rule! Eat well 80% of the time (8/10 days). If you limit eating out, eating desserts/sugary beverages, processed foods and fast foods to just once every 10, you should be okay. After all, life is still to be enjoyed.
- If you aren’t used to wholesome grains such as brown rice, whole wheat pasta, quinoa or steel cut oats, try to first find recipes you would enjoy that incorporate these in them vs. having them as on the side. For example, add Quinoa to a casserole is a great addition and adds more protein and fibre (see recipe: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/canada-food-guide/tips-healthy-eating/meal-planning-cooking-healthy-choices/recipes/quick-quinoa-veggie-casserole.html. Or try whole wheat pancakes with fresh fruits and nuts (see recipe: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/canada-food-guide/tips-healthy-eating/meal-planning-cooking-healthy-choices/recipes/summer-lovin-strawberry-pancakes.html
Eating on a budget may be a challenge when following a healthier lifestyle. Some examples such as switching to water vs. juice maybe a good way to save some money and be healthy. Here are some tips to keep you on budget:
- Buying frozen vegetables, frozen fruits and no salt added canned vegetables may be an economical way to add to some nutrients to basic meals without food wastage (wasting food adds to the price of food!).
- Stock up on pantry foods such as brown rice or whole wheat pasta when they are on sale.
- Eggs, lentils and yogurt are also cheaper options that offer adequate amounts of protein.
- Stick to a list and if you can meal plan for the week. Meal plans help you make a grocery list of foods that you only need for the upcoming week. That way you only buy what you need on a 1-2 week basis.
- Order Online. Most grocery chains offer an order and pick up for free (not delivery as that costs money). Some people swear they spend less when they order online and are not diverted by “items” on sale or impulse buying.
What if you have an illness or chronic disease? Keep in mind that the food guide is generated for the general, healthy population. Having an illness changes your requirements. If you have diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, talk to your health professional or dietitian to make choices that are appropriate for you.
You may be thinking how do I follow this food guide? Again, what about servings? This does not look like enough food!! So let’s analyze this in complete depth!
Look at the pictures above, chances are you’ve probably had omelette with toast. If not, you got to try that one day (no, seriously, you’re missing out!). Now adding some vegetables such as peppers, onions, spinach, mushrooms to an omelette and having 2 rye or whole wheat (high fibre breads) should be adequate. If you enjoy Indo-Pakistani meals, have tiqqa with some rice, raita (yogurt dip) and 1/2 plate full of cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions and radishes could complete your meal. For sandwich lovers, fill your sandwiches with 1 part protein (hummus, chicken, turkey or cheese) and 2 parts vegetables (lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts) and that should be an adequate lunch. Of course you should add water as a beverage of choice. If you remain hungry, add fruit to complete your meal.
Also, try to eat plant based protein such as beans, lentils or tofu more often.
Looking for recipes? Health Canada has recipes available to coincide with the new food guide here: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/canada-food-guide/tips-healthy-eating/meal-planning-cooking-healthy-choices/recipes.html
But what about serving sizes? Of course if you are a taller man, or an athletic woman, you will need more food. However, generally, your choices should mimic whole grains, lean protein and variety of fruit and vegetables. Choose vegetables, fruits or lean protein (such as eggs, nuts, roasted chick peas) as a part of all your meals and snacks and you’re at a great start! Some great tips on snacking are shared here: https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/tips-for-healthy-eating/healthy-snacks/
Leave a comment or question about the new Canada Food Guide! I’d love to know what you are all thinking. In the mean time, happy eating!