In our new course introduced this past weekend, ‘Nutritional Counselling for Kinesiologists’, we talked about Health Canada’s recommendations for a ‘healthy’ diet. As you can imagine, there were lots of questions!
Canada began publishing food guides way back in 1942. In January 2019, Canada released its most recent guide. I believe that, in Canada we actually have two food guides - one is ‘official’ and developed and published by Health Canada, and one is, well, not official at all - but it should be!
Most of us are familiar with the old rainbow shape and the general content of ‘Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide’. The updated Guide, now reimagined in the shape of a circle, is offered in 31 languages including nine native languages: Dene, Michif, Inuinnaqatan, three dialects of Inuktitut (Baffin, Nunatsiatvut, Nunavut) and Ojibwe, Oji-Cree and Plains Cree.
Interestingly, Health Canada used to publish a completely separate food guide for Indigenous, First Nations and Metis Canadians. It was offered in five languages: English, Inuktitut, Ojibwe, Plains Cree and Wood Cree.
The previous circle shape of the Guide for Indigenous, First Nations and Metis peoples was sensitive to nature's balanced circle of life. The Guide respected food as a link to land, culture and community. It also respected the spirituality that food often represents for Indigenous Canadians.
Some of the foods in the former Guide that are not mentioned in the current Canada’s Food Guide include:
Canada’s most current Food Guide was updated in June 2019. In my opinion we still have a long way to go to help Canadians improve their health and wellbeing:
In my kinesiology and nutrition practices I use the alternative ‘Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid’ to counsel my clients.
This guide is promoted by a colleague of mine, registered holistic nutritionist Julie Daniluk. While I couldn’t find the source for this image, it is based on the one in this 2018 article from Italian researchers Rondanelli et al.: Food pyramid for subjects with chronic pain: foods and dietary constituents as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agents.
With no pressure to keep the dairy, meat, sugar and grain industries happy, the image above sets out a way of eating that is beneficial to our gut health (and therefore our brain health) and also helps us to keep systemic levels of inflammation at a minimum.
As we compare Canada’s Food Guides with the Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid, we can see some big differences:
Regardless of the food guide you choose to follow, mindfully consider the source and quality of your food, keep it whole rather than packaged or processed and enjoy your favourites together with your family and friends. And remember, all foods have their place.
‘Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.’ ~ Michael Pollan
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