The Food Guide that many of us grew up with focused on food choices. But we now know that our eating habits are just as important to our health as the foods we choose. Busy Canadians want simple guidance that they can trust to help them make healthy food choices for themselves and their families.
In launching the new Canada’s Food Guide today, the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, emphasized that healthy eating is about more than the foods Canadians eat.
The new Food Guide is an online suite of resources that better meets the needs of different users, including the general public, policy makers and health professionals. This includes mobile-friendly web content to encourage Canadians to eat healthy whenever and wherever they go.
Canada’s new dietary guidance includes concrete advice for Canadians on healthy food choices and healthy eating habits. This advice includes:
- eating plenty of vegetables and fruits,
- eating protein foods,
- choosing whole grain foods, and
- making water your drink of choice.
Healthy eating is more than the foods you eat. The Food Guide encourages Canadians to:
- cook more often,
- enjoy food,
- be mindful of eating habits, and
- eat meals with others.
Canada’s Food Guide is intended for all Canadians. Health Canada is working to ensure that the revised Food Guide is inclusive of Indigenous Peoples, reflecting social, cultural and historical context. Additionally, Health Canada and Indigenous Services Canada are committed to working with First Nations, Inuit and Métis to support the development of distinctions-based healthy eating tools, as part of the revision process.
The new Food Guide is an integral part of Canada’s Healthy Eating Strategy, which aims to make the healthier choice the easier choice for all Canadians.
“Healthy eating is more than the foods you eat. It’s about your whole relationship with food. The new Food Guide gets to the heart of this relationship and gives Canadians concrete advice that they can follow to make healthy eating part of their day.”
The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health
“Healthy eating is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and helps prevent chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. The new Canada’s Food Guide not only encourages healthy eating for all Canadians, but also teaches us that healthy eating is more than the foods we eat – it includes such important aspects as sharing meals with others, cooking more often and eating mindfully.”
Dr. Theresa Tam
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada
“Dietitians are passionate about the potential of food to enhance lives and improve health. We commend Health Canada on taking a broader approach to eating by providing evidence-based guidance on not only what to eat but how to eat. We are also pleased to see inclusion and consideration of traditional foods, cultural diversity and environmental sustainability. Health promotion is an essential pillar in food policy and the new Food Guide tools and resources will support the creation of healthier food environments for Canadians.”
CEO, Dietitians of Canada
Backgrounder: The science behind the new Food Guide
Canada’s Food Guide has been around in one form or another since 1942. For more than 75 years, the Food Guide has been underpinning food and nutrition policies and programs across the country, and providing relevant and credible healthy eating information to Canadians.
Eating in accordance with the new Food Guide can help Canadians meet nutrient needs, reduce their risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer, and promote overall health and well-being. Planning and preparing healthy meals and snacks is an important life skill. The new Food Guide encourages Canadians to practice these skills.
Health Canada follows a rigorous scientific process to review the best available evidence. In developing its recommendations, Health Canada considered only high-quality scientific reports from respected authorities, such as the World Health Organization, the World Cancer Research Fund International and the US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. This process ensures that Health Canada’s dietary guidance remains both scientifically sound and current.
Although we live in an era of conflicting nutrition messages, the totality of evidence is clear. That evidence is agreed upon by many jurisdictions and respected health authorities.
The new Food Guide recommends the regular intake of vegetables, fruit, whole grains and protein foods. Among protein foods, it recommends consuming plant-based more often. Patterns of eating that emphasize plant-based foods typically result in higher intakes of:
- dietary fibre, which is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, colon cancer, and type 2 diabetes
- vegetables and fruit, which are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease
- nuts, which are associated with decreased LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, and
- soy protein, which is associated with decreased LDL cholesterol
Consuming more plant-based foods could also encourage lower intakes of:
- processed meats, which have been linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer, and
- foods that contain mostly saturated fat. Lowering the intake of foods that contain mostly saturated fat by replacing them with foods that contain mostly unsaturated fat decreases total and LDL cholesterol.
While the Food Guide emphasizes the benefits of plant-based foods, it also continues to include nutritious foods such as:
- lean red meat
- lower-fat milk, lower-fat yogurts, and cheeses lower in fat and sodium
Health Canada also emphasizes the regular intake of water to help reduce the amount of sugars people consume and help protect teeth from frequent exposure to sugar. Consuming foods or beverages with added sugars has also been linked to an increased risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
In recent years, Canadians have been purchasing more highly processed foods. When these foods are consumed on a regular basis, they can contribute to excess intake of sodium, sugars or saturated fat, which are all linked to chronic disease.
The new Food Guide highlights food skills, such as cooking, as a practical way to support healthy eating. When food is prepared and cooked at home, people can reduce the amount of highly processed foods they use, which can help them lower their intake of sodium, sugars, or saturated fat.
The Food Guide also encourages Canadians to make conscious food choices and to take time to eat, to pay attention to feelings of hunger and fullness, and to avoid distractions such as eating in front of a screen. This is known as mindful eating.
Eating with family and friends can increase people’s enjoyment of their food. Eating together can help reinforce positive eating habits and help children develop healthy attitudes towards food.
Source: Health Canada