The Canadian Government has revamped its food guidelines and the draft paper suggests there will be major changes bringing them more closely in line with OMS recommendations. A number of ‘guiding principles’ will underpin the new paper, some more specific than others at this stage.

The first principle, “a variety of nutritious foods and beverages are the foundation for healthy eating," is hard to contradict. But how do you define 'nutritious'?

In the past, Canada has joined other Western countries in including dairy and meat in this category, but this has now changed. The document promotes "eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, whole grain foods and protein foods. Choose protein foods that come from plants more often."

So while meat is not being ruled out, neither is it being promoted. In addition it suggests “inclusion of foods that contain mostly unsaturated fat, instead of foods that contain mostly saturated fat."

The second guiding principle relates to processed food. The bottom line is, the less processed the better, something OMS followers are very familiar with. This seems to be aimed at reducing salt, sugar and saturated fat, and there is a particular emphasis on avoiding sugary drinks.

The final guiding principle relates to education and knowledge, which are essential if people are to navigate their way to a truly healthy way of eating. Like the rest of the Western world, Canadians have become increasingly reliant on convenience food, due not only to limited skills, but also to time constraints, or social and economic considerations.

“Building a foundation of knowledge and skills can contribute to improved food choices and can help support life-long healthy eating habits,” the draft states.

While human health is the primary concern of the document, environmental health also gets a mention. “In general, diets higher in plant-based foods and lower in animal-based foods are associated with a lesser environmental impact,” the document states.

See the guidelines here

Karen Law

(updated 2019)


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