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What’s Different About Canada’s New Food Guide?


The new Canada Food Guide is getting a lot of attention for breaking with the conventional food groups and serving sizes that were staples in previous iterations. Placing an emphasis on plant-based eating and protein sources and making water the drink of choice, Canada’s new Food Guide was informed by research and aims to revamp not only what we eat, but how we eat in an effort to curb cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

In a recent statement, Dr. Gigi Osler, president of the Canadian Medical Association said the Guide, “is particularly supportive of the evidence-based review and extensive consultation process used to draft the new Guide, to ensure it was founded on unbiased research.”

How Has the Food Guide Changed?

To develop the new Guide, Health Canada followed a, “rigorous scientific process to review the best available evidence. In developing its recommendations, Health Canada considered only high-quality scientific reports from respected authorities, such as the World Health Organization, the World Cancer Research Fund International and the US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.”

Notable changes from previous versions:

  • Greater emphasis on fruits, vegetables, and plant-based proteins.
  • Reduced emphasis on meats and dairy products favouring low-fat dairy and non-dairy alternatives where possible.
  • A shift towards mindful eating, limiting screen time during meals, and eating and cooking with others.
  • Emphasis on drinking more water to lower sugar intake and protect teeth from exposure to sugar.
  • Eliminates the traditional “four food groups” replacing them with three: vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and proteins.
  • Encourages Canadians comprise half of their daily diet with fruits and vegetables, and split the remaining half between whole grains and proteins.
  • Modified the protein food group to include dairy and meat as well as plant-based proteins like beans and tofu.
  • De-emphasizes meat-based proteins and instead encouraging Canadians to “consume proteins more often.”
  • Labels 100% fruit juice as a “sugary drink” associated with dental decay, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. (*previous guide recommended 100% fruit juice as a healthy option equivalent to a serving of fruit.)

Focusing on Nutrition’s Role in Oral Health

Let your patients know that the new Food Guide is good for their oral health.

According to the Guide, in 2015, “sugary drinks were the main sources of total sugars in the diets of Canadians, with children and adolescents having the highest average daily intake.” The launch of the new Food Guide makes this a great time to remind patients that limiting sugars and saturated fats found in foods like soft drinks, juices, bubble teas and the like, are important to their oral healthcare.

The new Guide also aligns with CDA oral health and nutrition recommendations for limiting sugar consumption like:

  • Adding less sugar to coffee or tea (or use sugar substitutes). 
  • Avoiding sugar-sweetened soft drinks. 
  • Looking for fruit juices and drinks with no added sugar.
  • Avoiding sticky sweets that cling to teeth and are hard to brush away.
  • Eating sweets with a meal instead of as a snack by themselves.  
  • Carrying a travel-size toothbrush to use after eating sweets. 

Recipes, Resources, and Research

In addition to information about how the Guide was developed and revised, Canadians and health professionals can visit the Canada Food Guide’s Healthy Eating Resources for more information, images, and recipes. 

We always want to hear your thoughts and questions.

Leave a comment about this post in the box below, send us your feedback by email, or call us at 1-855-716-2747.

Until next time!

CDA Oasis Team


1 Comment

  1. Anonymous February 7, 2019

    Adding less sugar to coffee or tea (or use sugar substitutes).
    I thought it is not LESS that is the important part but rather the frequency.
    Should the messages not be consistent


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