The Canadian Food Guide – Time for a Re-Vamp?
For decades, the Canadian food guide has been a go-to for individuals and health professionals searching for the latest in evidence based nutrition. The food guide promises to provide the most up-to-date research and information regarding food choices for individuals and families, and is used across the country in health facilities and hospitals to ensure adequate nutrition for in-patients
But is the information provided by the Canadian food guide all its cracked up to be? Is it really your best source for accurate evidenced-based nutritional science? Let’s take a closer look to find out.
Let’s take a look at recommended daily servings for adults aged 19-50 and deconstruct each requirement individually. The food guide recommends:
• 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables
• 6-8 servings of grain products
• 2 servings of milk and milk alternatives
• 2-3 servings of meat and meat alternatives
Fruits and Vegetables
This is perhaps the most redeeming recommendation given within the food guide, considering fruits and vegetables are by far the most important component to any diet. However, ½ cup of juice is considered 1 serving, when in fact, juice is not a fruit or a vegetable. Readers could conceivably consume 4-5 cups of juice per day, and comply with the standards set by the food guide. The food guide does suggest readers consume at least one serving of dark green, and one serving of orange vegetables daily, and warns against consuming deep-fried vegetables and suggests consuming actual fruits and vegetables more often than juice. However, I feel this information is incomplete, leaving far to much open to interpretation.
My advice – Fruits and Vegetables
Eating fruits and vegetables doesn’t need to be complicated! At least 50% of what you consume daily should be classified within the fruit and vegetables category, and 80% of this portion should ideally be fresh or frozen or juiced, not canned, not dried, not processed in any way. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain the greatest variety of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that contribute to good health, the functions of which are really too numerous to discuss within this article.
The important point to remember, is that we should all try to incorporate as many non-starchy vegetables into our diet as possible; they are generally very low in sugar, friendly to our metabolism, and are the most nutrient dense foods we can put into our bodies. Non-starchy vegetables typically grow above ground, and are often leafy in nature. They include vegetables like onions and garlic, leafy greens, cucumber, squash, peppers, eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower and bokchoy, celery, rhubarb and radish, to name a few. Indeed, more than 7-10 servings of non-starchy vegetables daily would be fine!
I generally advise patients to limit starchy vegetables and other carbohydrates to no more than 25% of what they consume daily. Starchy vegetables include potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes and yams, parsnips, beets and other root vegetables.
Have a great day,
Dr. Kaleigh Anstett