Canada’s Food Guide, in its newest version, has the big takeaways that dairy and meat are out; water and plants are in. Rather than emphasizing food servings and groups, it places more focus on when, what, and how Canadians eat. Among the more notable changes in the food guide is the elimination of the old faithful four traditional food groups, a recurring star in the federal government’s advice about nutrition since 1942.
Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are still listed as integral parts of a healthy diet, but the focus on milk and meat, as was traditional, is now gone and replaced by the broader category: Proteins. Specifically, the food guide recommends that Canadians cut down on saturated fats and processed meats, choosing more often to consume plant-based proteins. The reduced substances can contribute to such diseases as cancer and diabetes.
The guide recommends such proteins as lean meats, fish, unsweetened milk, lentils, and soy beverages that have been fortified. Meat and its alternatives previously have been a separate food group, as milk had been along with its alternatives. The new food guide also puts a heavy emphasis on drinking water, stating that it should be selected as the beverage of choice by Canadians.
Tea, coffee, plant-based beverages, and lower-fat milk are less preferred but still viable options according to the guide. Fruit juices do not receive a recommendation because of their high sugar content. Previously, the older version of the guide had suggested that 100% fruit juice was a means to achieve the optimal quantity of fruit.
Also missing from the new food guide is specific advice from the government on the amounts of food to consume. Officials from Health Canada said that most Canadians found it confusing when they attempted to offer guidance on the portion size. An associate professor of nutrition explained that attempting to have precise amounts for every person is complex.
The previous food guide held separate dietary advice divided by age groups; six, in fact, half of which was further divided by sex. Even these failed to take into account varying lifestyles and body types. A document that will be released later should include suggestions on eating patterns that are healthy but aimed at prisons and hospitals, not the general public.