We’re delighted to welcome Selena De Vries, Registered Dietitian as our guest blogger. Selena has been working with us recently on updated resources for the HT toolkit and Healthier 4 You initiative. With the recent release of the new Canada Food Guide she was happy to share some of her initial thoughts.
The new Canadian Food guide has finally been updated and it is a huge step in the right direction. There is a large emphasis on choosing plant based foods, reducing sugar sweetened beverages, reducing saturated fat, and focusing on healthy eating behaviours.
The new guide comes with the removal of traditional ‘food groups’ and the removal of serving sizes suggestions, so this guide is certainly different from the old 2007 version. Now, the 2007 four page food guide has been replaced with a one page balanced plate model along with a list of healthy eating behaviours. The guide is now also fully online with a suite of online resources meant to help Canadians implement the new food guide and, at this time, is no longer meant to be a printable resource.
When it comes to raising healthy families, there are a few items to be highlighted. So, let’s dive in and discuss some of the key takeaways for families.
#1. Focus on fruit vs fruit juice
As mentioned above, there are no longer food groups. In the previous guide, fruit juice counted as a serving of fruit. In the new food guide, the recommendation on the beverage of choice is water. One of the main reasons for this, is to reduce the amount of sugar in Canadian’s diet. Fruit juice does not contain health promoting fiber, and concentrates the fruits natural sugar, essentially becoming a very high sugar beverage with no health benefits.
This is not to demonize fruit juice as it can have it’s place in a healthy diet in small portions, especially in very active children. However, the key is that juice should not have a prominent place in the family household.
The bottom line: choose water most often and choose juice as a ‘sometimes’ beverage. If you choose juice, keep the serving to no more than 1/2 cup.
#2. Focus on calcium
With the removal of the ‘milk and alternatives’ group, dairy has been removed. Plain milk, yogurt, kefir, cheese are joined by beans, legumes, tofu, nuts, seeds, eggs, poultry and lean red meat and is now labelled as a ‘protein’ group representing 1/4 of the balanced plate.
This can be concerning as there is not much direction in the guide in how children or adults are going to meet their calcium needs, which is quite a high number.
- For children 4-8 calcium needs are ~1000mg/day , 9-13 1300mg/day
- For adults it ranges from 1000-1200mg/day
For perspective, a cup of plain cows milk contains 300mg calcium, and 1 cup of broccoli contains about 75mg. Meaning, you would need to eat about ~4 cups of broccoli to reach 300mg. I don’t know about you, but no child or adult will eat that much broccoli and even if they did, they would be much too full to eat anything else!
The bottom line: Dairy can and should be a part of the diet if there are no intolerances or allergies. If dairy is not part of the diet, a Registered Dietitian should be seen to assess the diet and need for supplements.
Watch out for Part 2 of Selena’s thoughts on the New Canada Food Guide in our next blog post.