You all know that I can always find something to bitch about. I’m that girl who’s always the one to find a bug in her freshly picked raspberries or the bone in her piece of fish. My mum will attest to that. It was a running joke in my family that if there was anything weird to be found in the food, I would be the one to find it. So, it should come as no surprise that I have lots to say about the new food guide. But… it may come as a surprise that I don’t actually have anything negative to say about it! In fact, I think it’s pretty fucking great.
In no particular order, here are the changes that I’m most excited about:
- The addition of food skills (and food literacy). This is literally 85% of my job and it feels really good to have Health Canada supporting it as an important part of healthy eating.
- The removal of juice as a serving of fruit. It’s going to be so nice not to have to deal with that terrible piece of advice anymore.
- The removal of serving sizes and recommended number of servings. They confused people and it’s impossible to make recommendations that will work for the entire population. I can’t wait to no longer hear “I can’t eat ALL that” again.
- I’m glad they got rid of the meat and alternatives and milk and alternatives food groups and lumped them into a proteins group from which they encourage plant-based sources of protein.
- I appreciate the inclusion of Indigenous foods and ways of eating and the acknowledgement that many people in remote communities and on reserves may struggle to meet the recommendations in the food guide.
- Following from that, I also appreciate the recognition that external factors, in particular, many social determinants of health, can affect the ability of people to follow a healthy diet.
- I’m glad that water is recommended as the beverage of choice, again bye bye juice and chocolate milk 👋🏻👋🏻👋🏻
- I like that the emphasis is on promoting health and only once is weight mentioned. As I’ve ranted about in the past, the food guide is not supposed to be a weight loss diet plan.
- The photos included in the guide are really appealing. They look way more appetizing to me than the old cartoonish images did. Plus, they’re all about full meals and not just random foods.
- The overall focus is on a healthy pattern of eating, not just individual nutrients. Much more in-line with how we actually eat. Plus it’s advised that we enjoy (wow!) our food.
My one concern (aside from a couple of very minor things) is that apparently Health Canada does not plan on making the resources for the general public available in print. I think this is a huge mistake. Not everyone has ready Internet access. Also, the old food guide was used in schools and other educational settings (including the food literacy classes I teach) as a teaching tool. I work in public health and we get MANY requests from schools, organizations, and individuals for copies of the food guide. I’m not sure how we’re going to educate people and incorporate the food guide into our programs if we don’t have a print resource available. I hope that Health Canada will reconsider this decision so that everyone has equal opportunity to benefit from the new food guide.