Health Canada has officially unveiled its new Food Guide and its message is surprisingly simple: Eat plant-based as much as possible and establish a healthy, mindful relationship with food.
Under the new Food Guide, Canadians are encouraged to:
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
- Eat quality proteins (especially plant-based proteins)
- Choose whole grain carbohydrates whenever possible
- Choose water over other beverages
The new Guide also places an emphasis on building a healthy relationship with food instead of focusing on specific food choices. Specifically, the new Food Guide details the importance of cooking meals at home, enjoying your food, eating with others, and being mindful of the foods you’re eating.
A new Food Guide for healthier Canadians
The changes that have been made to the new Food Guide are meant to ensure a healthy lifestyle for Canadians as well as to help prevent and/or manage certain chronic conditions and illnesses. Based on studies provided by the World Health Organization, the World Cancer Research Fund International, and the US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, the revised Food Guide encourages a diet rich in plant-based protein and nuts (both of which can lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol), fruits and veggies (which are linked to a reduction in cardiovascular disease) and dietary fibre (which has been shown to lower the risk of colon cancer, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.)
Health Canada hopes that a stronger focus on fruits and vegetables, plant-based proteins, whole grain carbohydrates, and drinking water to stay hydrated will also help Canadians consume less sugar, sodium, and processed meat (which has been linked to colorectal cancer.)
WW Freestyle foods and the Canada Food Guide
The good news is, the WW Freestyle program already aligns to many of the key recommendations set out by the new Food Guide.
WW Freestyle encourages making ZeroPointTM foods the foundation of a healthy eating pattern, and many of these foods are also encouraged by the Canada Food Guide. Suggestions by WW and the Canada Food Guide include loading up on fruits and veggies, eating lean protein like skinless chicken and turkey breast, eggs, fish and seafood, as well as incorporating plant-based sources of protein into your diet more regularly. If preparing these foods at home is new to you, the following WW and Food Guide-approved suggestions can help make their presence on your plate a regular thing!
- Keep a supply of your favourite frozen fruits and vegetables on hand for last-minute meals. You can skip the prep and still retain all the nutritional benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables!
- Buy skinless chicken and turkey breast in family packs whenever possible. When you get home, portion them out into resealable bags and store in the freezer for up to six months. Due to their fragile texture, it’s best to buy fish and shellfish pre-frozen whenever possible.
- Substitute half the pasta or rice called for in recipes with vegetables. Cut-up butternut squash, yams, eggplant, cauliflower, and broccoli can all be used with great success in Italian, Asian, and Tex-Mex recipes.
- For filling and nutritious snacks, get into the habit of eating high-quality protein along with vegetables or a piece of fruit. Hummus, plain lowfat yogurt, nuts, cheese, and hard boiled eggs are easy choices that can be eaten on the go.
- Make cooking at home a positive experience. Enlist the help of family members with meal preparation, even very young children can help set the table and stir ingredients. Cooking solo? Listen to some music or your favourite podcast or simply enjoy the silence.
- Eat your food mindfully. The new Food Guide encourages mindfulness when eating, especially when it comes to avoiding screens. Mindful eating habits will allow you to fully enjoy your food and will keep you better aligned with your body’s way of signaling it’s full.
Food and mindfulness
An interesting addition to the Canada Food Guide is its focus on food and mindfulness, which acknowledges, “Healthy eating is more than the foods you eat. It is also about where, when, why, and how you eat.” The Food Guide recommends being mindful about your eating habits, notice cues that indicate when you are hungry, and when you are full, cooking more at home and involving others in the process, enjoying your food, and eating with others. If you are already on WW Freestyle, these healthy habits will sound familiar. Mindfulness is one of the key pillars on WW and being more mindful about your food will help you enjoy your food more, help you to realize when you are actually hungry, when you are full, which can help you during the weight-loss journey.