Canada released a brand new food guide in 2019, and here's what it means for you. Canada's food guide is meant to make healthy choices simpler, but if there is any confusion surrounding the new food guide, this will hopefully clear it up. 

Compared to past food guides, this one focuses more on how to eat, and less on exactly what to eat. Another important change is that the development of this food guide has as little influence from the food industry as possible (note the reduced emphasis on meat and dairy). 

The basic guide is shown in the image below.

Here are some possible misconceptions and points to keep in mind regarding the new food guide:

1. Total Food Amount

The total amount of food on the plate isn't meant to be telling you the total quantity of food you should be eating in a day (or a meal). The plate pictured represents the recommended proportions of your total intake. The total amount of food eaten will vary between individuals from day to day. 

2. Serving Sizes

The foods shown on the plate are not images to represent serving sizes (no, a serving of spinach is not just 4 leaves, and a serving of bread is not a ½ slice). While portion control is important, this food guide focuses on proportions, suggesting that 50% of your food intake should vegetables and fruits, 25% is whole grains, and 25% is high protein foods. 

3. The Food Images

This one might be obvious, but the foods shown on the plate aren’t exclusively the best, healthiest, and only foods you should be eating. They are simply used as examples to represent each food section. There are a very wide variety of nutritious vegetables, you don't have to limit yourself to the ones pictured. For example, cauliflower can still be a great healthy choice even though it's not pictured.

4. Vegetables and Fruit

These nutrient powerhouses should make up 50% of your diet (half your plate), and ideally more emphasis should be on vegetables than fruits. In addition, not all vegetables are equal. For example, only eating potatoes as your source of vegetables probably isn't ideal (and some people may not even consider potatoes in the vegetable category). Learn more on how to optimize your vegetable and fruit intake from the food guide's website. Enjoy an assortment of different fruits and veggies every day. As the food guide says, "eat a variety of healthy foods each day"!

5. The Perfect Meal

This is might be another obvious one, but every meal doesn't need to look like the food guide plate. The plate represents total food intake, in terms of recommended proportions and emphasis on whole foods. Some foods may not fit into any of these categories, and that's okay. Some foods can fit into more than one category, like peas, for example, which are both high in protein and a vegetable. Don't let the "perfect" plate be overwhelming, not every meal needs to look like this!

6. Other Recommendations

Don't forget to pay attention to these other recommendations stated in the food guide:

- Eat more plant-based protein. There are many reasons to do this, and many delicious plant-based protein sources! 

- Drink water. Replace sugary drinks with water, and increase your overall water intake.

- Pay attention to food labels

- Be aware of food marketing techniques

- Limit your intake of foods high in sodium, sugar, and saturated fat

For a more detailed look at the recommendations, check out Canada's food guide here

Of course, there are arguably improvements that could be made, but for now, this food guide can be used as an efficient way to help Canadians make healthy eating choices.