What a controversial subject! Some people are very reactive to the idea of Canada’s Food Guide and others find it a very helpful simple tool for eating healthier. Most countries have a food guide that outlines a balance of locally available foods to eat each day in order to meet nutritional needs.
The idea of the food guide is that people are encouraged to eat some foods from each of the key groups of foods that are available to that culture. In Canada, we have Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating. We also have a few versions that have been adapted for First Nation’s populations.
There are general groups of foods that form the basis of diet for most people in the world: grains, calcium rich, protein and vegetable/fruits and fats. The number of servings recommended to eat from each group depends on individual needs – children, pregnant women and active people will need to eat more servings from each group while older people and those wanting to lose weight, would eat the minimal number of servings from each group.
It’s a good place to start. Within each food group however, there is quite a wide range of nutritional choices.
For example, kale and iceberg lettuce are both in the vegetable group – but the dark green richness of kale provides antioxidants and detoxifying benefits while iceberg lettuce is mostly water. A fresh orange provides more vitamins and fiber than reconstituted orange juice. Multigrain sprouted bread is way more nutritious and lower on the glycemic scale than brown bread.
Theoretically, you could follow the food guide and eat a processed cheese sandwich on white bread with juice and iceberg lettuce salad with bottled dressing. Not much fiber, antioxidants or flavor here (in my opinion). Or you could uplevel your choices and eat a grilled tuna, roasted vegetable tortilla (sprouted whole grain) and a chopped kale salad with tahini dressing. Both menus follow the food guide, yet the tuna wrap and kale salad are superfoods loaded with anti-oxidants, fiber and anti-inflammatory fats. And locally grown organic foods are definately better for the environment.
Here are some of the best nutritious choices within each food group:
- Grains – quinoa, brown rice, barley, oats, millet, sprouted grain breads
- Produce – local, seasonal, rainbow of colors, leafy greens, organic
- Protein – legumes, nuts, seeds, omega 3 free range eggs, lean antibiotic free poultry, beef, pork and deep sea fish, local shellfish
- Dairy- probiotic lower fat greek style yogurt, kefir, fortified milk substitutes
- Good Fats – nuts/nut butter, seeds/seed butters, avocado, olive/coconut/grapeseed oil
Eating well does not have to be complex and overwhelming. Food guides can help.
We have developed a version of the food guide that is focused on the best whole foods choices from each group. Contact us if you would like a nutritional consultation on how to build the best nutritional menu plan for you (or your family).