Big news! The government just released Canada’s updated Food Guide. It’s been making major headlines this week, and for good reason. Having been notoriously outdated and influenced by industry groups, the new food guide is shockingly modern, full of variety and more inclusive of some dietary preferences and cultures. It also highlights that food is just one part of the puzzle and habits around food can be equally important.
In light of these changes, I thought it might be worthwhile sharing my perspective on the updates.
In general, I am very happy to see how far Canada’s food guide has come and it fits a lot more with my take on nutrition. I see it as a major improvement to previous years and will hopefully help shape a healthier generation. That being said, it is not without its flaws. Here are some of the areas where I think it can be improved upon...
Fats, which make up one of the three macronutrients humans need to survive (protein and carbohydrates make up the other two), specifically the Essential Fatty Acids, are not included in the food guide. The only inclusion of some foods with fat is as part of the “protein” category where you see fish, eggs, and some nuts.
It does mention that you should replace foods with saturated fat with foods that have healthy fats. Healthy fats, according to the new guide, include:
All of these fats, except for flaxseed and olives, have a high ratio of Omega 6’s and not enough (or none at all) Omega-3’s. Omega 3’s are anti-inflammatory and Omega 6’s in too high of quantity are pro-inflammatory. Both are important for our health but in the right balance, Currently, the average Canadian diet is far too high in Omega-6’s and not high enough in Omega-3’s which promotes inflammation and inflammatory diseases like heart disease.
Furthermore, many Omega 6 oils are cheap to produce so they are highly processed or refined, including canola oil, soybean oil and sunflower oil. It is the process of refining oils, and/or oxidizing them that denatures the fats and makes them dangerous to your health.
I could go on about the importance of fats and the marketing behind low-fat diets but that’s worth a whole other post.
Health and nutrition are highly personal. The updated recommendations are a good place to start for educational purposes and showing the average person where to start. I am a big fan of eating more vegetables, eating a variety of foods and eating real foods. However, depending on your current health condition, this type of diet may not work for you. For others, it will do wonders. Use your own judgement in determining what is and is not healthful and don’t be afraid to adapt based on what is/is not working for you at a point in time.
If you are interested in adopting a diet that incorporates everything listed above, plus healthy fats, I encourage you to try out the HEAL Weekly Meal Planning Program. We create the meal plans, provide you with a grocery list and new recipes every week, you save time, eat better and feel amazing.