Weight issues: STOP: Canada's new food guide is out

Although it would be great not to have to wait 12 years for the awesome replacement of the 2007 Food Guide, beyond the length of time that has passed, there is nothing to complain about the 2019 edition and there is plenty to praise.

Whether it's past criticisms or insulating the food industry review process or a change in leadership or a combination of these and many factors, the Food Guide 2019 is incredibly different from all its predecessors. Gone is a dairy as its own food group (this does not mean that the guide recommends against dairy consumption), it is the wanted-washy language that explained sophisticated grains, they make explicit recommendations to consume 2 glasses of milk and 2-3 tablespoons soup the vegetable oils are daily, have excessive fat-phobia, go juice is an equivalent of fruit and vegetables, go is the idea that sugar-sweetened milk is healthy food and has gone is an old nutritional approach.

What do we have?

The basic recommendations of the new driver are easy to summarize:

  • They regularly consume vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and "proteins"where protein foods include everything from legumes, nuts, to dairy to meat, and where your guide suggests you eat vegetable protein more often.
  • When you can, you consume unsaturated fats instead of saturated fats (with the guide being explicitly noted that there is no need to trap the total fat content of your diet)
  • Make your drink water selection (with the guide expressly mentioning that 100% fruit juice and sugar-sweetened milk are beverages to be minimized)
  • Reduce the consumption of processed foods and beverages that contribute excess sodium, free sugars and / or saturated fat (the new guide is less than 2300mg of sodium daily and less than 10% of the total daily energy intake of free sugars and saturated fats, respectively)
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Plan your meals, cook more often, enjoy your food (here the guide talks about the tradition of culture and food) and eat with others
  • Use food labels
  • Be aware that food marketing can affect your choices (and here I would prefer if they used the word "Caution"which is clearly what they get)

Now you can read these recommendations and ask yourself where the redness is? How many portions should I have? Which foods should I just eat?

The thing is that we do not have really detailed evidence that we eat this food, not the food beyond the broad recommendations noted above. And the portions are wise, first and foremost, everyone is different in their needs, but most importantly, the earlier portions of the portions were a known point of confusion – which agreed both to the public and health professionals. People do not weigh and measure their food, and people tend to underestimate how many portions they consume, and are increasingly being forced by the food industry to eat at least a certain number. Although it is likely that in some of the collateral that will be published in the future (there will be a steady flow of materials related to the guide to foods to be published in the coming months), there will be a more specific calculator without having prescription number portions the driver and, on the contrary, driving a healthier food pattern seems as right and appropriate. It also allows a much wider variety of diets with different percentages and types of proteins, carbohydrates and fats (something that is orientated to be furious because they do not adopt their diet in front of everyone else who wants to re-read).

And of course there is more than a short document that describes and supports the above-mentioned recommendations, as it was released today in the 55-page Canadian Dietary Guidelines for Health Professionals and Policy Makers, and serves to specify the above and provide the rationale and the evidence.

There is no doubt that there will be complaints. The protagonists of dairy products will be clearly quite unhappy, like those who press meat and saturated fat as health food, and my guess is, given that there is strength in numbers, people upset about these two issues probably will support each other.

Here I will just remind you of the consensual part about dietary fat recently published in the BMJ which came out, with prominent researchers with low carbohydrate content. The approval of Ludwig and Volek, as recommended by the new food guide,Replacing saturated fat with naturally occurring unsaturated fats provides benefits to the general population."

And also remember that science is not a static set of events, it is the best interpretation of our data and it can change over time. Will we see future research into the effect of saturated fat on health on people who follow low carbohydrate and high fat diets lead to a specific report that these diets are less disturbing (or not at all)? It can. Probably not. We are not there yet.


Our new food guide is a huge step forward and the responsible people must be proud of themselves. Stay tuned in the next few days for positions on why the food guide is important even if the majority of Canadians literally do not see it, its policy implications and where there is room for further reforms.

[Oh, and reporters who want to cover the sugar-sweetened milk angle, a reminder that Dominic Cardy, New Brunswick’s Minister of Education, is your go to guy to be upset about it as just last month he asserted school based chocolate milk sales provided important calories to children, while helping to combat food insecurity and poverty, which presumably is why his government, the New Brunswick Conservatives, reversed the prior Liberal government’s decision to stop its sale and provision in schools – something that clearly this food guide strongly supports]