Eat well, live well with Canada’s NEW Food Guide

Colourful Food Heart

Lisa Fisher, Health Promotion Specialist

Happy Nutrition Month! This month the Health Promotion team at 4 Wing is focused on delivering messaging around Canada’s NEW Food Guide, released in part in January 2019. This replaces the last version “Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide” which was released in 2007. The guidelines and considerations from Health Canada on healthy eating are based on the best available scientific evidence and promote overall nutritional well-being.
The new Food Guide focuses on two general areas: (1) Food Choices and (2) Eating Habits.

Food Choices

Health Canada has done away with the colourful rainbow from the last version of the Food Guide and instead replaced it with a plate graphic, which divides your plate into three sections. The largest section (i.e. equal to half your plate) is dedicated to vegetables and fruit while the remaining sections (i.e. each equal to 1/3 of your plate) are dedicated to proteins and whole grains. Health Canada is recommending that you make your food selections from these three areas to ensure you meet your nutritional needs. The new “Protein Foods” category essentially is the old “meat and alternatives” and “milk and alternatives” categories combined. They are recommending that when selecting protein foods, to choose plant-based proteins more often (e.g. tofu, legumes, etc.). Water is now also being recommended as the drink of choice with your meal and to stay hydrated to reduce the number of sugary drinks being consumed.

In addition, try to limit highly processed foods which are often high in sugar, fat and sodium. If you do choose to eat these foods, do so less often and in smaller portioned amounts. When choosing fats, choose those that are healthy (e.g. polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) from sources such as olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds, rather than saturated fat, often found in meat and milk products and processed foods.

When you’re at the grocery store, try to actively read nutrition labels when selecting foods. Nutrition labels are a great source of information that can allow you to make better selections based on overall Health Canada recommendations and your specific dietary requirements.

The last recommendation in the “Food Choices” section is to be aware of how food marketing can influence your choices. We live in a highly digitalized age where we are bombarded with marketing from companies through various mediums, such as social media, television and video platforms. Make a conscious effort to be aware of the effects that these marketing campaigns have on you, and to choose whether you want the food because the company made it look food, or because you truly enjoy it and it will add to your nutritional profile.

Eating Habits

Healthy eating is not just about what we put into our mouths and bodies; it’s also about how we go about it. Many of us lead busy lives which can be hectic. This can lead us to do many of our activities on “auto-pilot”, including eating. It’s important for us to take the time to enjoy the food that we’re consuming, as we’re less likely to overeat when doing so. Take away the distractions (e.g. television, video games and computer) and try to enjoy your meal, either alone or with others. Tune in to your body to know what the difference is between just eating because you’re bored or the food is available and eating because you truly feel hungry.

If you live with others, involve them in the planning and preparation of food. Even if you live alone, you could get a group of friends together for a once-a-week group meal or do a group meal prep day. Cooking more often decreases the unhealthy food options that often come up when eating out at restaurants or fast food establishments. It can also help you connect with your food on a different level then you used to and allow you to enjoy the process and the end result. If you struggle with cooking, ask for help or reach out to others for new recipes to try that are easy to master.

We want to overall reach a point where we’re truly enjoying our food. Instead of looking at food as a means to an end, view it as a journey of exploration and excitement. Taste the flavours fully, try new foods that you’ve never thought of trying before and develop a healthy relationship with food, viewing it as friend, not foe. Make food choices that reflect the flavours you enjoy, the budget you need to stick to, the lifestyle you have, and your culture and traditions. Since spring is just around the corner, you can start looking at options of how to grow your own food, whether that be through the community garden, container plants, or your own backyard garden. Imagine how satisfying it would be to go through the process of growing, cultivating, harvesting, cooking and then eating your own food.

If you would like any additional information or resources about Canada’s Food Guide or making healthy food choices, contact your Health Promotion team at 4WGHealthPromotion@forces.gc.ca or local 6958. We can also let you know when our next nutritional wellness courses are being held.

References

Health Canada. (2019). Canada’s food guide. Retrieved from https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/