My Initial Thoughts on Canada’s New Food Guide

It’s the day that we’ve all been waiting for! Health Canada has released the new version of Canada’s Food Guide!


This thing has been in the works for years. The previous incarnation, officially called “Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating,” was released in 1992. In 2002, Health Canada thought, “hmmm… perhaps we should update that thing.” And now, a mere 5 years later, here it is*. And it is pretty much the same as it was. Which is probably because it was already pretty solid to begin with. The graphics are slicker, fortified soy beverage** has been added to the newly renamed “Milk & Alternatives”*** group, and some of the recommended number of servings have changed. The old Food Guide gave a recommended range and it was up to individuals to figure out where they falll in that range. The old recommendations were:

  • Grain Products: 5-12 serings
  • Vegetables & Fruit: 5-10 servings
  • Milk Products: 2-4 servings
  • Meat & Alternatives: 2-3 servings

…and people were all like “Do I have 5 servings of Grains? Or 12? What do I do?? Aaaah!!!” There was an explanation in the extended booklet on “Using the Food Guide”… like, “if you are an 6 ft, 200 lb football player, you should choose from the upper end of the range and if you are a sedentary 90 lb person, maybe don’t eat as much as the football player, k?” But no one ever reads the booklet, so it looks like they decided to put the breakdown of this directly onto the new Food Guide, like so:

Astute readers will note that the ranges for the recommended number of serings have changed to:

  • Grain Products: 3-8 serings
  • Vegetables & Fruit: 4-10 servings
  • Milk & Alternatives: 2-4 servings (the only one that stayed the same)
  • Meat & Alternatives: 1-3 servings

Notably, the ranges have all decreased… the low sdecreased as the Food Guide is now applicable to kids starting from age 2, as opposed to the old Food Guide which didn’t start until age 4. The upper end of the Grain Products and Vegetables & Fruit are lower, I think, because Canada’s are so inactive that we don’t need as much food as active people – and we all know that too much food + too little activity = a nation of fatties.

I think having this table breaking down the recommended number of servings by age and sex right on the Food Guide is a pretty good idea… much easier for people to follow and, unlike the new US Food Pyramid, you don’t need web access and mad internets skills to get the info you need. In fact, ever since the Americans butchered their Food Pyramid, I’ve been worried that Health Canada would screw our Food Guide up, so I’m glad to see that they didn’t.

So, those are my initial thoughts on the much awaited**** Canada’s Food Guide. Wow, I think that’s the first time I’ve actually talked about nutrition on here. And nutrition is my bread and butter… or my bread and non-hydrogenated margarine, so to speak.

*back in 2003, I wrote a problem-based learning case for the nutrition course that I was teaching that was based on the fact that the Food Guide was being revised…. I thought I would only be able to use that case once, since the revised Food Guide was supposed to be ready for spring 2004. Since it took so long to come out, we were able to use that case in that course right up until the January 2007 section!
**which everyone on earth usually refers to as “soy milk” but which you aren’t allowed to call soy “milk” because the dairy lobby gets angry and litigious if you do so.
***which used to be called “Milk Products.” Take that, dairy lobby groups!
****well, much awaited by me and the other foodies, anyway

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