What You Need to Know About the New Canada Food Guide
Goodbye, pyramid. So long, rainbow. Hello, dinner plate. In a refreshing redesign, Health Canada has revealed a very clear picture of what a balanced, healthy meal looks like. What does this mean for you and your family? We’re breaking down the top points in the new Canada Food Guide guide.
The New Plate: A Variety of Healthy Foods
We couldn’t be happier to see half of the new Food Guide plate occupied by fresh fruits and vegetables, a quarter designated for whole grains, and a quarter reserved for protein. Not only does this de-emphasize the four food groups that debuted in 1977, which were heavily focused on meat and dairy, but it helps people understand that plant-based protein is a fantastic option (and our choice for protein fuel). It also clearly shows what healthy whole grains look like, from quinoa to pasta and bread—any of our Sprouted Power™ breads, buns, or bagels are a great option to fill this requirement. The guide also suggests water as the drink of choice to stay well hydrated, since sugary sodas and fruit drinks were the main source of total sugars in Canadians’ diets, especially among children and adolescents.
This new plate design also does away with serving sizes and steps away from portion recommendations, two things that Health Canada sites as that Canadians found difficult to comprehend and complicated to use.
The takeaway? Make sure your meals and snacks include plenty of fresh produce and supporting protein and whole grains. Want some meal inspiration? Check out our recipes and Instagram for some beautifully balanced eats.
Healthy Eating is a Daily Practice
The online guide speaks to healthy eating being more than just what you put into your body. Health Canada recommends being mindful of your eating habits by cooking more often, taking time to really enjoy your food, and sharing meals with others. The guide also encourages Canadians to really tap into their senses during a meal, paying close attention to smell, taste, and texture, as well as eliminate distractions in our environments (like screens) during meals. Sharing meals with others is a really great way to find connection at work, with friends, and with our families. Health Canada hopes that these practices will help people be more aware of what they eat, when, and why, ideally preventing overeating, stress eating, and deter people from consuming too many processed foods.
Food Labels and Misleading Food Marketing
The new Food Guide encourages Canadians to get used to reading product labels on anything that isn’t fresh food to help identify non-beneficial ingredients, including high levels of sodium, sugars, and saturated fats. Health Canada believes becoming familiar with ingredients will help people compare and choose products more easily and be able to choose products with more of the nutrients they need. This point in the Guide complements upcoming changes to Canadian food labels that will roll out over the next four years, including changes to the serving size that better reflect the way Canadians intuitively eat—you will see this on Silver Hills Sprouted Bakery bread packaging soon as the new serving size and nutritional information will represent two slices of bread, instead of one (since most Canadians make two slices of toast or a sandwich).
Food marketing is another item Health Canada is addressing, helping Canadians understand that marketing can influence their food choices, particularly when it comes to foods and drinks that “contribute too much sodium, sugars or saturated fat to our eating patterns.” This marketing can appear on a variety of media channels (tv, radio, print, social media, video, online ads, etc), and even as product placement in our favourite shows or movies.
Steer Clear of Added Sugars and Processed Foods
The new Food Guide wants to make clear to Canadians that highly processed foods and drinks are not part of a healthy eating pattern and can increase the risk of chronic disease. This specifically calls out: sugary drinks (even 100% fruit juices), chocolate and candy, ice cream and frozen desserts, fast food, frozen entrées, high-sugar bakery items like cakes, and processed meats. This part of the guide does point out, however, that some types of processing can be beneficial to health, including home drying or dehydrating (try some dried apple slices), canning (pickled beets, carrots, beans, etc), and freezing (frozen cauliflower can make smoothies extra creamy). The emphasis here is to make homemade versions and healthy swaps of your favourite snack foods.
Check out all our Sprouted Power™ foods to add some healthy sprouted whole grains to your plate.