The country’s latest food guide emphasizes three strategies for healthy eating.
Canada released their dietary guidelines for 2019—and they are pretty revolutionary. Their latest guide advises replacing most animal proteins and fats with plant-based sources. The guidelines don’t focus on set food groups or serving sizes, but rather emphasize consuming whole, plant-based foods and avoiding most beverages except for water.
The guidelines are split up into three main sections—foundations for healthy eating, foods and beverages that undermine healthy eating, and the importance of food skills. When it comes to eating advice, the guide simply says to consume produce, whole grains, and protein foods regularly, with most of the protein being friendly for vegetarians and vegans. It also says to avoid saturated fat by consuming unsaturated sources, which are mostly plant-based foods or fish. And it never mentions dairy consumption.
The second guideline advises avoiding processed and prepared foods and beverages, including alcohol and sugar substitutes. The guide notes one should avoid these products because they’re usually high in sodium, added sugar, or saturated fat (or, sometimes, all three) and could increase your risk for obesity and chronic disease.
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The third guideline doesn’t emphasize what to eat or avoid, but rather on the importance of eating food made at home. It says “food skills,” such as cooking, are not only important for healthier eating, but also for preventing food waste and knowing exactly what ingredients go into your food. The guide encourages creating and enjoying meals with others, as eating alone can lead to bad dietary habits.
These guidelines are similar to The Healthy Eating Plate guidelines set by Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. This guide also eliminates dairy as a food group, limiting intake to once or twice a day (as listed in the beverage category.) It encourages consumption of plant-based, fish, and poultry protein instead of red meat, cheese, and other processed meats. The guide also emphasizes eliminating most beverages except for coffee, tea, and water. And if you look a little closer at Harvard’s protein guide, they encourage avoidance of animal protein sources when possible.
While these guidelines may seem radical, there’s a great deal of recent research promoting the benefits of a plant-based diet. Diets high in fiber, produce, and whole grains can prevent obesity, chronic disease, and help you maintain a healthy weight. While we aren’t abandoning meat and dairy entirely ourselves, it is important to eat a diet rich in plant-based foods for a healthy heart and body.