When I say "I Ate Like The Canadian Food Guide," I mean I portioned out all the advisory food portions in my head, compared it to what I visioned my average college days meals to be, and realized how far off I was. I would have to be adjusting my diet in many ways in order to achieve the promised better health, reduced risks of disease, better looks, etc. by the food guide.It all started in one of my classes, where I was required to record my normal diet for one week. After this, I started to compare my exact diet to the Canadian Food Guide. Wanting to be healthy, I then took this experience to try eating like the Canadian Food Guide for a week.
Studying nutrition in Canada makes the Canadian Food Guide pretty much the Bible of my courses so far. Every statement on what's good for you can be referenced to the detailed recommendations of the food guide.
Summed up, the food guide is meant to make eating healthy easy for us Canadians. Taking into account all the nutrients we should be consuming and to what quantity, they make it easy for us by breaking it down into how many servings of each food group you should be consuming.
To determine a serving of different food types, they provide an elaborate list of the quantity of a serving of many common food items—easy-peasy when you've decided to give up all the pizza takeouts.
1. "Vegetables And Fruits"
As an adult between the age of 19-50, it is recommended that females have 7-8 servings of vegetables and fruits, and males 8-10. This was definitely a huge adjustment for me, and I was surprised that this large of a portion of our diet should be fruits and vegetables. One serving as illustrated in the examples aren't small either.
Luckily, a tip included in the food guide is that choosing frozen fruits and vegetables are an affordable and just as nutritious option—even canned goods fruits and vegetables are fine.
But even with the issue of storage and reducing grocery trips solved, I would still need to be eating three and a half to four cups of them a day. On what I thought was a healthy day, I was only making around half of this at best.
But don't forget, it is also said that you should be consuming more whole fruits and vegetables than juice. I had to readjust my diet when I thought I could juice my way out. In addition to this, within the fruits and vegetables you're eating in a day, at least one should be dark green and one orange.
2. "Grain Products"
Along with fruit and vegetables, grain products should also be making up a majority of your daily diet. At 19-50 years of age the Canadian Food Guide recommends 6-7 servings of grain products for females and 8 for males.
If you're like me, you're going to need more than your breakfast cereal or toast to meet this, but this is a reasonable recommendation based on the sample quantities above.
It is also said that half of your grain intake should be whole grains. This required me to substitute my white bread for whole grain bread as this was the most realistic change for me.
3. "Milk And Alternatives"
Two servings of milk and alternatives is all you need according to the Food Guide. Three when you reach over the age of 51. This was easy as I realized I was already over-consuming dairy products on some days.
A cup of milk, or fortified soy beverage, in the morning would already be meeting half of my recommended intake.
4. "Meat And Alternatives"
Surprisingly, for people above the age of 19, if you're eating the recommended quantity of meat you would only be eating 2 servings a day as a female, and 3 servings a day as a male. With eggs and nuts included in the same category as meat, I believe I'm not the only one who has a diet that exceeds this.
For meat and alternatives, it wasn't just reducing my intake of this food group. It was making sure I had at least 2 servings of fish in a week, and also having meat alternatives such as tofu, beans and lentils often.
This was just a portion of the food guide, accounting for only the food group recommendations for the average adult. It doesn't take into account the other tips, plans, food label guides, etc. I realized that eating healthy wasn't as simple as I anticipated.
For me, it was more than just a diet change, but also a lifestyle change. It meant changing the way I shopped, the balance of the food groups in every one of my meals, and watching my diet by day rather than by week.
Looking at just the food groups the ingredients of my meals consisted of gave me a very good idea of where I was at in terms of eating a balanced diet. A "balanced" diet definitely isn't about eating even ratios of every food group.