If we have kids at home, we may have seen the little angels bring home a copy of Canada's Food Guide from school. Some of us are reminded of it when we walk into the doctor's office. And at the very least, the rest of us vaguely remember what the Food Guide looked like from nutrition and phys ed classes in elementary school - with fruits and vegetables, meats and cheeses, all lined up neatly on the rainbow-coloured illustration. But there is more to this Food Guide than just a memory or a picture, especially since a new version came out in early 2007.
This guide, the first new version in 15 years, was a long time coming, especially given the fact that so much in the science of nutrition and health has changed. For example, in 1992, we didn't know as much as we do now about trans fats or the importance of extra vitamin D for people over the age of 50. We've also seen foods from many more cultures show up in supermarkets - first displayed on one shelf and now filling entire aisles.
The Food Guide has been completely updated to take into account all these changes in what we eat and what we know. It also has a new name: Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide (the 1992 version was called Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating). There are lots of tips on how to make healthy eating a complete experience, with interactive tools to help you get comfortable with serving sizes and to learn about the different food groups. And you will probably be pleasantly surprised to find that more of the foods people from different cultures eat every day are now part of the rainbow.
The new guide outlines more specific and friendly eating strategies, which feature the following:
Overall, the guide highlights a holistic and balanced approach to healthy eating, and emphasizes the importance of incorporating exercise into daily activities. As you get increasingly familiar with the Food Guide, you will be able to make healthier eating choices for yourself and your loved ones, while slowly phasing out foods that have little or no nutritional value.
In addition to the updated guide, Health Canada also launched the first-ever national Food Guide for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. This supplemental food guide specifically addresses the nutritional practices for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis and it should assist Aboriginal communities and Northerners in making informed healthy choices, while respecting their traditional way of life.
Manoeuvring around the Food Guide might be a little confusing if you are a first-time Food Guide follower. But do not despair. There are tools and tips that the guide offers to help you decide and plan your meals around your specific needs - even around the needs of each family member. You can also check out the various sample menus for the family, which cater to different individuals at home.
Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide helps you learn how to:
The guide also offers tips for:
Health Canada and the Dietitians of Canada have collaboratively put together a few interactive tools that you may find useful in keeping up with healthy eating:
You can get the full version of the new 2007 Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide at www.hc-sc.gc.ca. Canada's Food Guide is now available in 12 languages.
Canada's Food Guide has a long history going back to its roots in 1942, when the first guide, then titled Canada's Official Food Rules, made its debut - a national effort born of a need to educate Canadians on food portions during the lean wartime years.
Times have since changed, and the updated Food Guide reflects the evolving health needs of Canadians. Of course, there is always room for improvement, and feedback is already trickling in. For example, suggestions have been made to include daily caloric intakes and trans fat targets.
Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide is more than just a few pages filled with serving portions and calorie counts. It also represents a collective venture to reduce the occurrence of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and stroke. The risk of these conditions is increased by eating poorly and being inactive.
There is a lot to be said for eating well and staying fit. And you can start by getting a free copy of your Food Guide today.
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