Less wine and cheese?!

The French High Council For Public Health (HCPH) is in the middle of updating their national nutrition guidelines. The five-year process is set to wrap up in 2021. So far, changes have been made to reduce the 2011 nutritional guidelines’ suggested intake of meat, dairy, refined grains, and sugary beverages. The new guidelines will encourage higher consumption of produce, whole grains, plant proteins, and heart-healthy fats such as olive and walnut oils over animal fats. These are pretty drastic changes from the land of white baguettes, cured meats, and cheeses.

France’s public health organization, Santé publique France, just released a small set of 2019 guidelines in step with those objectives being set by the HCPH, to encourage citizens to prepare for the guideline updates coming in 2021. The organization purposefully took a relaxed approach in establishing these guidelines, in hopes citizens will actually put them into practice.

“We wanted to give big orientations rather than quantified objectives,” Anne-Juliette Serry, the organization’s head of food and physical activity, said in a statement reported by Food Navigator. “These formulations are perceived as less restrictive by the general public. They cause a gradual change, adapting to the pace of each [person].”

These guidelines serve to encourage simple, yet necessary, lifestyle changes and focus on three main actions: “Increase,” “Go Towards”, and “Reduce.” The “Increase” guidelines advise consuming five or more servings of produce per day, consuming legumes and pulses at least twice a week, and also consuming a small handful of nuts daily. The “Go Towards” section encourages citizens to choose high-quality vegetable oils, such as olive and rapeseed over animal fats, whole grains over refined, and seasonal, local, and organic food when possible. The “Reduce” section advises less consumption of meat, sugary beverages, processed foods with high sodium or sugar, and alcohol.

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France’s new guidelines are a huge departure from the ones last released in 2011. The updated guidelines ask citizens to reduce their dairy intake to one or two servings per day, instead of three; limit meats beside poultry as much as possible; and emphasize choosing whole grains over general carbohydrates. Many aspects of these guidelines appear similar to Health Canada’s latest update of their country’s nutritional guidelines, promoting more plant-based foods, drinking more water, and replacing animal proteins with plant proteins.

As of now, the HCPH is also advising consuming fewer grilled and charbroiled foods, prioritizing a nutritious diet over supplements, and eliminating restrictive diets for weight loss. We think these are all steps in the right direction, and simple changes most people could probably benefit from.