"Health is adding a level of intention to every area of your life"
- Miranda Anderson
By now you may have had the chance to take a look at Canada’s new Food Guide for 2019. Maybe you’ve already formed your own opinion on it. Perhaps it has inspired you to make some changes in 2019, or maybe you’re just happy to keep eating the way you are.
Either way, I hope you’ll consider my thoughts on the new food guide.
But before I get started, I would just like to stress that as always, I never want to make someone feel uncomfortable, especially about what they eat. I say this because I know that when many people hear that I’m a nutritionist they somehow think they need to be on their ‘best behaviour’ in regard to their food choices, and that I would be disappointed, ashamed, offended etc. about the ‘unhealthy’ food choices they may have made recently. As a Registered Holistic Nutritionist™, my role is not to judge other peoples choices. I strongly uphold my commitment to educating others about healthy living by meeting them where they are at. I understand that everyone must walk their own path and make the decisions that feel right for them in that moment.
For that reason, my goal here is to simply to provide information so that you are reading can make informed choices when it comes to their nutrition. This is important because what you eat is up to you. What you eat affects you. And if you are trying to make decision to support your health, I want you to have the right information to base this on.
Now, just one more thing before I get started. If you don’t agree with my take on the food guide, that’s just fine. However, please don’t disagree with me just because you hear something else you like better on social media. Disagree with me because you’ve done your own thorough research (meta analysis or systematic reviews of the literature), as this is what I’ve done to form the opinions I share with you here.
If you have not had a chance to review the 2019 Canada’s Food Guide here’s a brief overview. The guide is broken down into the following categories;
Today I’ll mostly be focusing on the first topic, ‘Food Choices’; I have no qualms with the statements they make under ‘Eating Habits’ and my thoughts on the recommendations for the following 3 categories fall much in line with what I discuss regarding the ‘Food Choices’ category.
So here are the recommendations;
Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, whole grain foods and protein foods. Choose protein foods that come from plants more often.
Be aware that food marketing can influence your choices
What I Love!
Issue # 1: whole grains. Whole grains are not required for a healthy diet; there’s not a single vitamin, mineral or even fibre that we can’t also obtain from vegetables and fruits (which are actually easier to obtain from veg & fruits). Additionally, grains (whole or refined) can actually be detrimental as they contain anti-nutrients that limit the absorption of nutrients, set off an immune response in the gut and can lead to systemic inflammation
Issue # 2: Plant protein. Plant protein is not superior to animal protein; plant proteins (beans, lentils, legumes, grains) also contain anti-nutrients, and are difficult for most people to digest, even when properly prepared. When you consider the nutrient density of plant proteins vs. animal protein, animal protein comes out on top every time
Issue # 3: Saturated Fats. Saturated fats (butter, cream, ghee, lard, tallow, eggs, coconut oil, fattier cuts of meat) are not the enemy, and have NOT, I repeat NOT, been shown to contribute to heart disease, and can (and should) be part of healthy diet. The fats/oils that we need to be avoiding are processed and/or industrial vegetable and seed oils (margarine, soybean oil, peanut oil, corn oil, safflower oil, canola oil, grapeseed oil, cottonseed oil, wheat-germ oil). These oils are heavily processed before they make it to your plate, using heat (leading to oxidation), chemicals, dyes and artificial flavour additives.
Issue # 4: This one may be considered splitting hairs, but I would prefer if they recommend avoiding processed foods instead of limiting highly processed foods. The reason I’m being picky is that processed foods are quite complex, and most people don’t know the difference between slightly processed and heavily processed. I think it’s better to encourage eating whole foods as much as possible, therefore you don’t even have to worry about ‘ingredients’ because your ingredients are real, whole foods. On the occasion that you do chose a packaged food, don’t eat anything that has ingredients that you don’t recognize as real food (this ties in with my point about knowing how to read a nutrition label).
So there you have it!
Canada’s food guide has definitely come a long way and has drastically improved in 2019! I can only imagine how Canadians’ health would improve over the next year if they were to follow this new guide!
When it comes down to it, my recommendation is always simply this;
EAT REAL FOOD!