Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

Do dietitians follow the Food Guide?

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The above inane tweet last week prompted me to post a couple of tweets in which I screamed into the void about a) people not following dietary guidelines anyway and b) weight not being indicative of health. Which then lead to me posting the following poll:

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Obviously, this is a completely unscientific poll but it does show that the majority (83%) of RDs who responded do not generally follow the dietary guidelines for their respective counties. This could be for any number of reasons. Most didn’t respond with a reason. Those who did said that they weren’t big on fruit of dairy or the carbs (that’s the grains food group) are too high. Personally, I suspect that some days I’m low in vegetable and fruit consumption or milk and alternatives. Other days I’m definitely over. And if I’m being completely honest, I have something from that “other” food group (aka sometimes foods) on the daily.

The truth is, the Food Guide is just a guide. It’s not a bible. It’s intended to provide people with all of the nutrients and energy they need to be healthy and active but everybody is different. We all have different needs and preferences. I know that people really like to rag on dietitians and say that all we do is preach the food guide but I’m here to rain on that parade. Dietitians are people too and we enjoy food for more reasons than just as fuel. We are not robots that run on kale and quinoa. I think that most of us think that the food guide could be improved (and fingers crossed it will be whenever they finally come out with the new version) but we also know that it’s just meant to be a tool.

Food Guides are meant to guide people toward nutritious food choices. They encourage a variety of foods from all of the food groups. The overall message that people should be taking from a food guide is that there are healthy choices in all the food groups and eliminating any one food group may result in deficiencies. Also, that eating only one type of food from each food group (e.g. lettuce as your only veg or bread as your only grain) is not going to provide you with all of the nutrients that you need. However, it’s also important to listen to your own body and nourish it accordingly. If you’re not hungry don’t sweat the fact that you’ve only had 5 servings of vegetables or 4 servings of grains. Conversely, if you’re extra hungry one day, don’t feel like you have to limit yourself to the servings recommended in the Food Guide.

Healthy eating really doesn’t have to be complicated or rigid. In fact, if you think that you’re eating healthily and you’re finding that it is complicated or rigid then you diet (or relationship with food) probably isn’t all that healthy after all.

Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian from Nova Scotia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to help people relearn how to have a healthy relationship with food.

3 thoughts on “Do dietitians follow the Food Guide?

  1. I think that a very important fact needs to be remembered when looking at the Canadian Food Guide. Economics and politics play a significant role in its formulation. The government has a hard time suggesting what you should eat when it might have a significant impact on the economy. They also undergo intensive lobbying by the food industry to maintain the status quo as that maintains profits.
    The real food guide would be nothing like the government published one.

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    • These are important points that I’ve blogged about in the past but I didn’t want to detract from my message here by going down that well-worn road again. Also, while the recommendations would undoubtedly be different without industry interference, I don’t believe it would be nothing like the current guide. Here’s hoping the next version is better!

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  2. Right on sis, we should always eat for nutrients, not calories, formulas and other false diet guides. Eating healthily while savoring those choices, will always be more important to physiology than the number on a scale. So true – we need to listen to our bodies.

    Liked by 1 person

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