Will you follow food guide?

We joke about what they are in many contexts, but the four food groups were a part of my childhood education.

Now, suddenly, there is no more food pyramid, no more four food groups.

Meat and dairy are no longer named categories.

We don’t have a recommendation on how many servings of food to have, or what the serving sizes are.

So, what are we supposed to eat?

Health Canada released a new version of the Canada Food Guide this week, and it is a long way from the original advice they offered 77 years ago, even from the last revision in 2007.

I wonder, does anyone even follow any official recommendations any more about what makes a healthy diet? Does it matter what a government department tells us about eating healthy? Are we just as likely to follow the latest trend?

Let’s see what came of this week’s report…

The new food guide is much broader in scale and approach, recommending more of a lifestyle than a diet. Here are the main points on what we should be eating:

  • Food groups are replaced with suggestions to eat “plenty of vegetables and fruit” (illustrated as half a plate’s worth), whole grain foods (one quarter plate) and protein foods (one quarter)
  • Limit consumption of processed foods. If we must eat them, it should be less often and in smaller quantities.
  • Choose water as our beverage of choice.
  • Pay attention to food labels.
  • Fruit juices no longer count in the fruit and vegetables category, but rather in the sugary beverages category (under processed foods).
  • Recommending servings of dairy and meat is not part of the plan anymore either. The general theme is to lean toward a plant-based diet.

The industries that support these products are less than impressed, but Health Canada says it is looking to scientific studies instead of industry for support in their recommendations.

At least we can know that industry lobbying has not muddied the water.

The culture of eating is also a subject broached in the new guide, with recommendations centred around enjoying our food more.

The new suggestions include:

  • Cook more food at home, instead of eating at restaurants.
  • Be mindful of not only what you eat but when; eat only when you are hungry.
  • Share your meals with others, from the planning to the eating.
  • Healthy eating is the focus, and this can include the traditions of family and culture.

There seems to be a significant effort to get Canadians to focus not just on eating healthy but also to take time to enjoy eating as an experience, and value that experience as much as the food itself.

OK, I’m going to say what I’ve thought all week as I listened to this news… it’s about darn time. What took them so long?

In a country that prides itself on what it calls “a cultural mosaic,” why have we not made more of an effort to officially support diversity in our diet and food culture?

The talk of sustainability has been around for decades, and we are just now talking about eating more responsibly. At least now I guess we can say “better late than never.”

I am not a vegan, and I don’t plan on giving up dairy or meat, in light of the new Food Guide recommendations. And I understand that many people with dietary restrictions will take the Guide with a grain of salt (something else that is not overly encouraged in the new plate of food).

Regardless of where our current diets stand in relation to this news, it does offer us new information. At least we can say that the attitude is moving in a direction that helps us all be more aware of a bigger picture.

Maybe now we can start to share more of what is Canadian food besides poutine and butter tarts.

Perhaps this change in government policy won’t change much for the average person’s diet choices right away. But it can help make change possible in education, encouraging funding for things like school gardens and healthy eating programs at school cafeterias and lunchrooms.

The future of healthier eating in Canada looks promising.

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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