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A Look at Canada's New Food Guide

March 22, 2019

Health Canada released the New Food Guide in January! This Food Guide focuses on eating a variety of healthy foods each day, with advice on how to eat. It encourages us to:

For the first time we see food groupings, instead of food groups. The focus is on proportions, instead of serving sizes. A plate snapshot of the Food Guide recommends aiming to fill ½ your plate with vegetables and fruit, ¼  with whole grains and ¼ with protein-rich food, including dried beans, legumes, meat, fish, poultry, milk, cheese, eggs and yogurt. The new Food Guide encourages us to consume plant-based proteins, more often than meat since this is as per scientific evidence.

To celebrate Nutrition Month, we asked HPHA's Clinical Nutrition and Food Services Department a few questions about this new food guide!

Is the Food Guide a one-size fits all?

Of course not. The Food Guide attends to the general nutrition needs of the Canadian population. In a hospital setting we see many patients who are malnourished and juggling many nutrition restrictions/recommendations for their specific (or multiple) diseases. Clinical Dietitians are responsible for assessing patients' nutrition status and developing a plan to ensure patients meet their nutrition needs. Recently the Clinical Dietitians were granted the ability to change diet orders (if the Doctor has made a Dietitian referral).​ This helps ensure that patients are on the best suited specialized diet order for their health/ recovery needs.

Will the New Food Guide change care at HPHA?

The new Food Guide represents a great opportunity for nutrition conversations for our patients and families, as well as staff. Our Nutrition and Food Service Department continually evaluates the patient menu from information gathered from patients, Dietitians, evidenced-based nutrition information and other staff. Our food service staff work diligently to ensure that menu items are of high quality and food offered meets patients' nutrition requirements. Nutrition Food Service Supervisors complete meal rounds to evaluate tolerance of patient menus. Efforts are continuously underway with respect to optimizing the patient menu and for making the healthy choice, the easy choice in the cafeteria!

What's the take away from all this?

Healthy eating behaviours and balancing good nutrition are key parts of a healthy lifestyle. Enjoy whole foods such as fruit, vegetable, whole grains, beans, lentils, fish, lean meat, yogurt, milk, and minimally processed foods. Be mindful of your eating habits! Healthy eating can be simple and enjoyable!

Any other thoughts?

The Food Guide acknowledges that healthy eating is never a one-size-fits-all approach and that you may need to make individual adjustments to find what's best for you. In that case, make sure to reach out to a Registered Dietitian for expert nutrition advice.

Click here to read Canada's Food Guide!