Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

Another hot take on Canada’s new food guide

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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.

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.

7 thoughts on “Another hot take on Canada’s new food guide

  1. I like that it’s getting a lot of media coverage and agree there should be readily available print version. As for finding strange things in your food – I can attest to the fact that at one point in her life the budding dietitian was able to find and remove fragments of herbs from home made spaghetti sauce.

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  2. For the first time in a long time I am also pro-Canada Food Guide. I’m not a dietician but I have done a fair number of research because I’ve always been interested in food and health. My biggest issue is that what works for one person doesn’t work for another and the old food guide was hard for many people to follow. For example: at home we follow a whole-foods, plant-based diet. I can eat ALL the raw vegetables I want and feel great – and ALL the nuts I want. My sister has serious digestive issue – if she tried to eat the way I did she would be in pain (and has been in the past) plus she is allergic to certain nuts (she tried to follow a whole-foods, plant-based diet for a while and it was a disaster for her health). I’m so happy to see this food guide lumps things together. And happiest that I can now tell my children that Juice is off the menu!

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    • Yes, this version is much more open to different dietary preferences. I’ve also had a few people comment to me about how they could never follow the old food guide recommendations but this version actually affirms the way they’re already eating.

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  3. Agree that there must be printable versions. As well, there needs to be more guidance as to amounts of food to be consumed–one of a number of reasons is cost. One cannot throw a plate of beautiful food at the public, and then ask them…to figure it out.

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  4. I just got a hundred copies of the food guide in print – you can order 100 at a time and they come within a week or so – then order them again as many times as you like. Here is the link: : http://www.hc-publication-sc.hc-sc.gc.ca/paccb-dgapcc/cmcd-dcmc/webpubs.nsf/Web1/180594?OpenDocument&lang=eng&
    I am in PH too and get many requests from schools. They can also order them. The other resources (recipes, tips, etc) will only be on-line for now)

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  5. Pingback: Is it possible that chocolate milk actually saved Andrew Scheer’s son’s life? |

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