Canada’s food guide gets an update

Goodbye "food rainbow," hello plant-based, whole grain diet!

Perhaps the most cost-effective way to stay healthy is to switch out junk food and fast food for alternatives such as fruit and nuts. (FILE PHOTO)

Your old high school foods teacher will be putting up a new poster in their classroom soon. Gone after 12 years is the notable “food rainbow” food guide, complete with graphics of milk cartons, loaves of bread and of course the title, “eating well with Canada’s food guide!”

Last week Health Canada released their latest guide opting for real photographs and a possibly millennial-inspired top-down shot of a plate prepared by someone that doesn’t like their food groups touching.

The changes in the new guide don’t stop with the design overhaul. The dairy category is almost entirely missing. A small cup of yogurt rests with a small group of proteins, formerly meat and alternatives, which is now largely dominated by nuts and seeds. A glass of water sits to the side of the plate, replacing sugary fruit juice and milk. Green and red fruits and vegetables dominate half of the guide and those measurements for food servings that you never followed are gone.

“They were ridiculous and idiotic,” said Yoni Freedhoff, an associate professor in the department of family medicine at the University of Ottawa.

What remains of this new food guide is a more significant push towards food with no added sodium, fewer sugars or saturated fat and recipes for healthy meals and tips. Cook more often. Be aware of food marketing. Enjoy your food with company and use food labels.

The Canadian Medical Association, Heart & Stroke and even B.C. Dairy have commended the new guide. Dietitian Sydney Massey wrote an article talking about the importance of dairy products in the food guide’s recommended recipes despite the now removed milk and alternatives category.

While there have been many public statements endorsing the new guide, many lobbyists from both the meat and dairy industry have spoken out against the new guide and the changes made.

“Dairy Farmers of Canada remains concerned that the updated Food Guide does not reflect the most recent and mounting scientific evidence available,” Dairy Farmers of Canada said in a statement, further noting that there is “no scientific justification to minimize the role of milk products.”

Petitpas Taylor said that it was her “role as Health Minister to meet with all stakeholders” before the release of the new guide but said that those meetings did not influence individuals involved with creating the new food guide, made up by a team primarily of nutrition expects and researches.

In a statement by the Community Food Centres Canada, they praised the new guides independence from industry lobbying, saying, “CFCC applauds Health Canada for committing to a process free from food industry influence and for putting public health ahead of industry profit.”