A new, updated Canada Food Guide has been unveiled. Tina Tenneriello speaks to a dietician about how you can follow the recommendations while sticking to your grocery shopping budget.
The federal government has dramatically overhauled its iconic Canada’s Food Guide, introducing this week a new, simplified approach that encourages plant-based eating and reduces the emphasis on meat and dairy.
For the past four decades, Health Canada has instructed Canadians that a healthy diet consists of specific servings across “four food groups,” set against a rainbow background. But the new guide, unveiled on Tuesday morning, not only does away with the four groups; it eliminates serving numbers and sizes altogether. It also replaces the “rainbow”.
NO MORE ‘FOUR FOOD GROUPS
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The four food groups had, until this week, remained more or less unchanged since they had their debut in the 1977 Canada’s Food Guide. Those groups consisted of milk and milk products; meat and alternatives; grain products; and fruits and vegetables..
This shift away from meats and dairy sparked fierce opposition from the respective industries. In 2017, The Globe reported that the meat industry and other government departments were lobbying Health Canada to soften its approach. And earlier this month, Tom Lynch-Staunton, a representative for the Alberta Beef Producers, told The Globe it would be “dangerous” to equate meat with plant-based proteins.
A statement from the Dairy Farmers of Canada on Tuesday said the new guide “does not reflect the most recent and mounting scientific evidence available.” Previous statements from the organization had warned that the move would be “detrimental to the long-term health of future generations” in addition to having a negative impact on local dairy farmers.
A LESS PRESCRIPTIVE APPROACH
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The new guide is distilled into one strikingly simple image: a plate of food filled with roughly half fruits and vegetables, and the remaining half divided into whole grains and proteins. The image is meant to convey a simple message, according to Health Canada: Eat a diet made up of roughly half fruits and vegetables, and half of the remaining two categories.
Gone are the specific recommendations to eat a specific number of serving sizes across each of the groups. Gone too is information about what makes up a serving size for different types of food. “What we heard from Canadians and stakeholders [on the previous guide] was that it was very difficult, and a bit too complicated to use,” said Hasan Hutchinson, director general of the Office of Nutrition Policy and Promotion in Health Canada.