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Food Groups Are Out, Plants Are In: New Health Canada Guidelines

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Eat more fruits, vegetables and proteins that come from plants. That’s the advice from Health Canada, which introduced a new Canada’s Food Guide last week.

You should also limit “processed” foods and try to eat out less often. Processed foods include many “convenient” or “ready-to-eat” foods like TV dinners, chips, candy, soft drinks and store-bought meals that only need to be reheated and served. These meals may contain more salt and sugar than is necessary for a healthy diet.

The former food guide divided what we eat into categories like dairy, grains and meat and set out how much to eat within each group.

The new guide uses three categories: vegetables and fruits, whole grain foods and protein foods.

The new guide suggests that at least half of the food you eat should be fruits and vegetables, a quarter should be proteins (such as lean meat, nuts, seeds, lentils, yogurt, fish, eggs and tofu) and a quarter should be whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, whole-grain pasta or whole-grain bread.

They suggest that your main drink should be water.

The new guidelines also encourage people to cook more often (rather than eating out or buying ready-made meals), eating with others (in other words, enjoying food socially) and being aware of the way companies advertise their foods to try and get you to buy them.

“Healthy eating is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and helps prevent chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers,” Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada said in a statement. “The new Canada’s Food Guide not only encourages healthy eating for all Canadians, but also teaches us that healthy eating is more than the foods we eat – it includes such important aspects as sharing meals with others, cooking more often and eating mindfully.”

Related Links
You can download a PDF of the new food guidelines here: https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/healthy-eating-recommendations/

In a column on the Global News website, biocultural anthropologist Sarah Duignan cautions that the new food guidelines don’t take into account some social factors (like income, ability to get to a grocery store and cultural values). https://globalnews.ca/news/4885166/canada-food-guide/

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Imagine that you own a restaurant and you need to create a menu. Think of a type of restaurant and a name for your restaurant. Create three menu items for your restaurant that follow the new food guidelines. Which types of food are included in each meal? Was it challenging to make sure it was a balanced and healthy meal?

Reading Prompt: Reading Unfamiliar Words
Pick one processed food that you like to eat and look at the label on the package. How many ingredients are listed? Do you know all of the ingredients or are some of the words unfamiliar? If they are new words, what strategies do you use to sound them out?

Look at the nutritional information on the label. Is this a balanced meal/snack? Does it meet the new food guidelines? Why or why not?

Junior and Intermediate
Predict the meaning of and rapidly solve unfamiliar words using different types of cues  (OME, Reading: 3.2).

Language Feature: Commas
Commas are often used to separate items in a list. Read through the article and underline or highlight every time commas are used in this way.