A selection of healthy foods displayed on a table

Clear Guidance on Canada’s Food Guide

Foodservice managers want to know: Does the revisions apply to me?

Healthcare foodservice workers have been doing a lot of talking since the January release of Part One of the revised Canada’s Food Guide.

While Health Canada signaled that many parts of the previous guide were consistent with the latest scientific evidence on diet and health, many people braced for drastic changes based on the guide’s new look planned updates.

At first glance, the revised guide appears to eliminate two food groups—Milk & Alternatives and Meat & Alternatives. A closer look shows these groups are now combined under “Protein Foods.” There also seems to be more emphasis on food proportions instead of specific amounts, depicted in the guide’s plate design graphic.

By looking at the revisions from a foodservice manager’s perspective, there are still unknowns that will become clearer with the release of Part Two, Canada’s Healthy Eating Pattern. Here are three aspects to note about Part One:

1. There’s a recommendation to consume plant-based proteins more often. Compare this to the previous food guide, which mentioned having beans, lentils and tofu often. The change in emphasis is apparent, although some people may argue the message really hasn’t changed. 

2. Some recommendations may still change. The release of Canada’s Healthy Eating Pattern could affect current recommendations, including: consuming fish twice per week; eating dark green and orange vegetables daily; and the regular consumption of dairy products to meet calcium requirements. 

3. 100% fruit juice is included in the group of “sugar-sweetened beverages.” In the 2007 guide, 125ml of 100% fruit juice was equal to one serving of fruit. The previous guide encouraged eating whole fruit over consuming fruit juice, but the new Dietary Guidelines have stronger language, saying all sugar-sweetened beverages should be limited as they are linked to increased intake of free sugars. Water, unsweetened milk or fortified soy beverage, and fruit should be offered instead, especially in publicly funded institutions. 

While there appears to be a fresh look and feel to the revised Canada’s Food Guide, it will take the addition of Canada’s Healthy Eating Pattern to determine the impact on menu planning and other daily activities in institutional food service environments.