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Breaking Down The New 2019 Canada's Food Guide

By Don Gauvreau, MSc, CSCS (aka “The Supplement Godfather”)

This year, the long-awaited new Canada’s Food Guide has been issued. There’s been a lot of talk around these changes, with the most notable topic being the proportion of food groups on your plate. The old grouping was one quarter veggies/fruits, one quarter meat, one quarter grains, and one quarter milk/dairy. The 2019 Canada’s Food Guide is half veggies/fruits, one quarter protein, and one quarter grains. What are your thoughts on these changes, and do you believe this is in line with how people should be eating these days?

The purpose of Canada’s Food Guide is to help Canadians choose foods that will improve health, meet nutrient needs, and reduce the risk of nutrition-related chronic diseases and conditions. Essentially, Canada’s Food Guide uses the science of nutrition and health to help people make healthy food choices.

The revision of Canada’s Food Guide has been a long time coming. The guide was outdated and based on old information and political influences. Now, finally after a five-year review period, Canada’s Food Guide has been given a complete overhaul!

Overall, I think the changes are great! All of the revisions are based on the best available scientific evidence and on feedback that Health Canada received based on the previous versions. From 2013 to 2018, Health Canada reviewed and assessed emerging evidence on links between food, nutrients, and health. It continues to monitor evidence from credible scientific resources.

So, what are the major changes? Well, let’s look at the old guide first, which recommended a diet consisting of one quarter veggies and fruit, one quarter meat, one quarter grains, and one quarter dairy. I see a couple of major issues with the old guide. First, evidence clearly shows that a diet made up of one quarter meat and one quarter dairy isn’t optimal for health—the evidence is very clear and overwhelming on this point. Second, what about the millions of Canadians who follow a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle? The old guide has absolutely no application to these people.

Now, let’s take a look at the new guide. It recommends half your diet should be made up of veggies/fruits, one quarter protein, and one quarter whole grains. This is a dramatic improvement over the previous guide. The guide even recommends Canadians choose proteins that come from plants—not animals—more often. The body of scientific evidence clearly shows that a diet that consists of more plant-based foods than animal products is much better for health. Athletes and bodybuilders have been eating similar to the new Canada’s Food Guide for years now. Picture a plate half filled with steamed vegetables, a cup of brown rice, and a chicken breast or some tempeh (for my vegan friends)—that’s right in line with the new food guide! Seems pretty healthy to me.

Of course, some people will never be happy and always have something to critique when it comes to government recommendations on anything (myself included). But I think this new food guide is based on solid scientific data, and it’s 100 times healthier than the old guide. So, good job, Canadian government, on finally doing a decent job at something! (I certainly can’t say that for much else!)


Follow Don Gauvreau @SupplementGodfather


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