Canada’s Food Guide has evolved considerably since it first appeared in 1942, when it was originally called “Canada’s Official Food Rules.”
Intended as a nutrition program to improve the health of Canadians during wartime, it promoted foods that would ensure optimal nutrition in the context of food rationing and poverty. The rules featured six food groups (milk; eggs; fruit; vegetables; cereals and bread; and meat, fish, etc.). Among other things, Canadians were recommended to eat one serving of potatoes a day as well as four to six slices of brown or white bread daily.
Today’s recommendations are obviously quite different…
The Food Guide that we know today is more an all-in-one educational tool offering detailed advice on the quantity and types of foods to favour to promote good health, as well as suggestions for limiting foods and beverages high in calories, fat, sugar, and sodium. While the current guide plays an important role in the health of Canadians, its most recent update goes back to 2007.
To ensure the guide continues to be relevant for Canadians and that it reinforces healthy eating recommendations based on new scientific evidence, Health Canada has decided that Canada’s Food Guide is ready for its next update.
Among other things, the new guide will be inspired by what other countries like the United States and Brazil are doing. Given that nutritional science is constantly evolving and that new evidence is constantly emerging, the next version of the Food Guide is likely to recommend replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, and curbing the consumption of sugary drinks, which is now associated with an increased risk of childhood obesity.
Objectives/intentions of the new Food Guide
Our current Food Guide is all-in-one tool that does not work for everyone. Some people would like to see more detail while others simply want basic information. Creating a relevant and practical guide that uses simple language and features easy-to-retain information is easier said than done. That being said, in the upcoming version we’re likely to see straightforward messages along the lines of “less saturated fat and more fibre” or “less processed food.” Some Canadians may have difficulty, however, understanding or implementing certain recommendations, particularly when it comes to portion sizes. Another priority should be improved labelling of foods so that it’s easier for Canadians to make healthy choices while shopping—such as opting for low-sodium products.
Canadian Eating Habits
- Most Canadians do not consume enough fruit, vegetables, whole grains, milk and/or substitutes.
- Approximately 30% of our calories come from foods high in fat, sugar and/or sodium.
- Canadians typically do not get enough calcium and fibre in their diet.
Canada’s Food Guide is currently being reviewed and is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.