Canada’s new food guidelines draft: surprising and simple

By Catherine Haug, Nov 16, 2017

Our neighbor, Canada, released a draft of new and simple food guidelines for public comment in July of this year (1). Unlike the USA’s ‘food plate’ or ‘food pyramid’ recommendations by food group/category, Canada’s guidelines are simple and idea-based (although they do include a sample ‘plate’ (2)).  They also include an interactive “My Food Guide” (3), that can be tailored to reflect traditions and food choices of First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.

These guidelines are good not only for humans but also for the planet, and do not play into the pockets of industrial lobbyists.

The following are a list of recommendations (from a Food Revolution article about the draft guidelines (4)):


#1: Focus on plant-based foods

The draft guidelines recommend regular intake of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and protein-rich foods, especially plant-based sources of protein. In their list of proteins, legumes (such as beans,) nuts and seeds, and soy products are listed first. They say a shift towards more plant-based foods is needed, without necessarily excluding animal foods altogether. They point out the need to eat less red meat and replace foods like cream, high-fat cheeses, and butter with foods such as nuts, seeds, and avocados.

[Cat’s notes: don’t be afraid of good fats such as butter or ghee, fresh, raw cream, and cultured cheeses, (from pastured dairy animals); lard (from healthy hogs); and coconut oil. See my earlier posts: Butter (and other saturated fats) is a health food!Butter vs margarine, and Love your Butter for more about dairy fats.

Be wary of bottled seed oils like corn, soy or canola, as they are likely GMO; also they are forced from the seed by using extremely high pressure which converts them to free radicals which are very damaging. If you must use seed oils – like flax, for example – make sure they are ‘cold pressed.’

Olive oil is another good oil for things like salad dressing or dipping bread, but do not use for cooking at moderate to high heat because it will also form damaging free radicals. You can use it for low-temperature sautéing.]

#2: Drink plain water as the beverage of choice

In order reduce the consumption of sugar and reduce the frequency at which teeth are exposed to sugar, regular intake of water is recommended.

[Cat’s note: I like to add a wedge of fresh Organic lemon to my glass of water; it helps to quench my thirst and its minerals help prevent dehydration.]

#3: Limit the intake of processed or prepared foods and beverages high in sodium and sugar. 

[Cat’s note: This means avoiding the center isles of your grocery store, where you would otherwise find canned, boxed, packaged and frozen foods that are mostly highly processed. Instead, shop in the produce, dairy, fish and seafood, and meat departments. Select wild-caught fish/seafood, and Organic or at least GMO-free and pastured/finished meats.]

#4: Plan and prepare healthy meals and snacks.

Few Canadians are preparing meals from scratch and many are, instead, relying on convenience foods, so planning and preparing healthy meals at home is recommended.

[Cat’s note: I provide healthful recipes on my recipe blog, Cat’s Kitchen, for your reference. Note also that senior services like ‘meals on wheels’ provide mainly processed foods, so if you cannot prepare your own meals, try to find someone who cooks from scratch to help you with your meals. Or help in lobbying Meals on Wheels to use non-processed foods.]

#5: Share meals with friends and family when possible.

According to the guiding principles, having meals together can reinforce positive eating habits and help children develop healthy attitudes toward food.

[Cat’s note: Sharing meals with others is also very helpful if you have mood issues or too many ‘senior moments.’ ]

#6: Be more mindful about food

The guidelines encourage people to learn more about where food comes from and how it’s prepared. Other practices they encourage include taking time to eat and savor every bite, paying attention to feelings of hunger and fullness, and avoiding distractions while eating.

[Cat’s note: This one can be my downfall when I eat alone because I read or watch TV for companionship. I am more mindful when I have others to join me at my table.]


  2. Canada’s food plate:
  3. Canada’s My Food Guide:
  4. Food Revolution article:

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