Here’s another critical look at how Canada’s Food Guide works (or doesn’t work) to help guide people to healthier eating choices.

We’ve blogged about this before and as a foundational teaching tool, it’s a solid, evidence-based guide. But….we have some issues with it, many of which are raised in the following article – for example, juice is counted as a fruit, serving sizes are confusing and hard for people to follow since it’s not in keeping with how most of us eat, and the fact that “other” foods aren’t really addressed at all.

For my heart patients, the Food Guide highlights many of the same characteristics of a Mediterranean diet, which identifies more vegetables and fruit, high fibre grains, low-fat dairy, fish, nuts with less emphasis on red meat and processed foods. But, I never open up the Guide into the double-page spread of serving size numbers for age groups and genders. This is because this part of the guide causes most people’s eyes to glaze over with incomprehension and confusion.

We are starting to see some positive changes – Health Canada has recently published an “Eat Well Plate” (http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/eating-nutrition/healthy-eating-saine-alimentation/interactive-tools-outils-interactifs/eat-well-bien-manger-eng.php) to better illustrate servings and food groups and isn’t a million miles off of the US’s version “My Plate”. This is showing progress in some of the Food Guide’s messages and images that better capture how we eat in reality (are you weighing your meat servings or measuring your cereal amounts? I didn’t think so). Baby steps…

-Samantha

Global News

It’s a cornerstone of Canada’s approach to healthy living, shapes our provincial nutritional policies, and is taught in schools.

Canada’s Food Guide – the iconic, colourful model to eating well. But is our national guide out of touch? Critics point to several flaws in the Food Guide that render it unrealistic and out of date.

Health Canada said the goal of the Food Guide is to ensure Canadians are meeting their nutritional needs. It also serves to reduce the risk of chronic diseases (like obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis) and helps improve overall health and vitality.

To this end, the Guide instructs consumers to eat a certain number of specific foods a day, depending on their age and gender.

READ MORE: Explaining Canada’s Food Guide and how it works

Health Canada said the Food Guide is to be used as just that – guidance. Serving sizes are suggested.

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