Canada’s New Food Guide: Thoughts and Opinions
The first Canadian food guide was drafted up in 1942 and was only revised a handful of times up to 2007. Back when the first rules were introduced to the general public, it was during the second World War. Canadians were advised to drink a pint of milk daily, eat up to 6 slices of bread, eat moderate servings of fruits and vegetables, and consume 3-4 eggs weekly. Meat and fish were down to a single serving. While times have certainly changed, as well as our eating habits, some of the changes were created by lobbyists.
For example, did you know that in 1992, the diary industry lobbied for the food guidelines to contain more servings of milk? Because of this practice, the reliability and credibility of the food guide has been brought to question multiple times.
Introducing the New Canada Food Guide
The latest addition is the 2019 food guide, which looks close to the American counterpart and features a colorful plate of food that is neatly divvied up into one-half vegetables and fruits, one-fourth whole grains, and one-fourth of assorted protein-packed items. Some of the guidelines to be followed include:
- Eat protein-rich foods
- Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits
- Eat a variety of healthy foods daily
- Be mindful
- Enjoy your food
- Use food labels
- Limit foods high in sugar, sodium, and saturated fats
- Be aware of food marketing
Now, do you see any problem with this? I do.
Personal Opinions About The New Food Guide
The new food guide is clearly an improvement upon what Canadians had in the past, but it is still lacking in several places. The plate diagram takes a step forward by being more open to other religious and cultural diets and dietary restrictions, especially by showing protein sources instead of meat and fish, as well as adding half a plate of fruits and vegetables. However, I do have a few concerns about the layout and serving sizes.
Fruits and Vegetables
I have a problem with fruits and vegetables being lumped together. Fruits are good for us, yes, but they are also a source of sugar. It doesn’t matter what kind of sugar it is, too much sugar is bad for us—and someone might think that if they load up their plate with fruits, it’s going to be as healthy as loading a plate up with leafy greens. But this would lead to too many people consuming too much sugar.
Absence of Good Fat
Looking at the plate, it breaks items up by carbohydrates and proteins. Where are the fats? Good fats like avocados, extra virgin olive oil, pistachios, and fatty fish our missing from our plate. Fats might have a bad reputation, but the body needs fat to function. Without it, our cells can’t survive. Leaving out healthy fats from the plate is a failure in reminding people that fat is the third macronutrient and thus essential to our survival.
Too Many Grains
Although grains have been pushed back to ¼ of the plate, this could still be too much for some people. Research is showing us now that grains, whole or not, can be detrimental to our health when heavily consumed. Plus, there are those who cannot consume certain types of grains, due to irritation and inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. This should have been included in the making of the plate.
While the new good guide plate is not ideal in terms of portion sizes and serving amounts, it is an improvement. I would suggest, though, that you consider adding healthy fats and limiting grains on your plate. The plate is by no means a one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition, but it is a step in the right direction. What are your thoughts?