Tips to easily follow the Canada Food Guide 3 Guidelines

The Canadian food guide outlines 3 guidelines. 

– Guideline 1: Foundation for healthy eating
– Guideline 2: Foods and beverages that undermine healthy eating
– Guideline 3: Importance of food skills

We will go over these guidelines and provide some tips to implement these guidelines in daily life.

Guideline 1: Foundation for healthy eating

Nutritious foods are the foundation for healthy eating. Nutritious foods includes, but is not limited to:

– Vegetables
– Fruits
– Whole grains
– Protein foods

Plant-based protein

Plant-based protein positively contributes to health and the environment. The guide recommends consuming plant-based protein more often. Plant-based protein includes: legumes, nuts, seeds, tofu. Other recommended source of protein include: fish, shellfish, eggs, poultry, lean red meat including wild game, lower fat milk, lower fat yogurts, lower fat kefir, and cheeses lower in fat and sodium. Plant-based protein have significant positive impact on health and on the environment. Research suggests that plant-based foods, which in rich in fiber, decrease cardiovascular disease risk, colon cancer and type 2 diabetes.

Tip: When using plant-based protein, meals can be planned around flavour profiles rather than protein. For example, Greek flavours include: lemon, black olives, oregano, tomatoes and cucumber. An easy plant-based Greek dish could be a quinoa bowl with Greek spice marinated chickpeas, spinach, lemon juice, tomatoes, cucumbers and black olives. 

Limit saturated fats & increase unsaturated fats

Limit saturated fats and increase unsaturated fats. Saturated fats should be limited and should be replaced by unsaturated fat foods. Examples of foods high in saturated fat includes fatty red meat, processed meats, fired foods and high fat cheeses. Saturated fats are usually present in meat while unsaturated fats are usually present in vegetarian foods. Examples of food high in unsaturated fat “good fats” includes: avocado, nuts, olives and fish. Research suggests unsaturated fats have a positive effect on overall heath as they lower risk of vascular disease, heart disease, and stroke.

Tip: To easily reduce saturated fats from dishes try reducing or eliminating cheese from dishes and replacing it with nuts or avocado. For example, you can replace the cheese in a sandwich or a burger by avocado.

Water is foundational to life

The human body is 75% water! Water is recommended as the beverage of choice. Water supports health and promote hydration without adding calories. Dinking adequate amounts of water is essential for metabolic and digestive processes. Impacts of dehydration are vast and include: constipation, weight gain, high cholesterol, fatigue, head ache, and high blood pressure. Drink up!  It can be difficult to drink enough water throughout the day. 

Tip: to increase your water intake try adding flavours to your water (e.g. cucumber slices, lemon or lime wedges), carrying a water bottle with you throughout the day and having a cool glass of water as soon as you wake up.

Healthy eating is more than food!

Food is an integral part of all social interactions, celebrations, cultures and family tradition. To make healthy eating a lifestyle, it is essential to enjoy your food. Nutritious foods should reflect your taste and preferences as well as your food traditions. Eating together reinforces these positive eating habits and supports a healthy relationship with food. Cooking and eating together is a fun way to connect with friends, family and to foster connections between generations and cultures. 

Tip: Organizing potlucks with friends and family or baking night with kids are fun and easy ways to spend quality time together and sustain a healthy relationship with food.

Guideline 2: Foods and beverages that undermine healthy eating

Processed foods and beverages are likely to negatively impact health as they often result in excess sodium, free sugars and/or saturated fat. It is important to understand that it is the way we eat the majority of the time that has the most impact on our health.

Free sugars

Free sugars are defined as being added to foods and beverages and do not include the naturally occurring sources of sugars found in intact or cut fruits and vegetables. Free sugars are found in a variety of products such as: sugary drinks, condiments, sugary breakfast cereals, confectioneries and other processed foods. The Canadian foods guide recommends consuming less than 10% of total energy intake from free sugars.

High sodium

High sodium intake is associated with higher blood pressure which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. High amount of sodium is often found in cheeses, processed meats, dips and condiments. The Canadian foods guide recommends consuming less than 2300 mg of sodium per day.

Saturated fats

Lowering intakes of foods that contain mostly saturated fat, by replacing with foods that contain mostly unsaturated fat, helps lower cardiovascular risk factors.

Saturated fats are found in animal-based foods such as cream, butter, cheeses, and fatty meats as well as some vegetable oils. The Canadian foods guide recommends consuming less than 10% of total energy intake from saturated fats.

Tip: Cooking at home using whole ingredients is a way to reduce intake of free sugars, sodium and saturated fats. You can reduce free sugar, sodium and saturated fats by using fresh herbs, garlic, lemon and lime zest, non-sodium added spice blends and essential oils. For example, instead of frying fish with batter and fries you can garnish fish with lemon zest and garlic, serve with fresh dill, oven roasted potatoes and steamed broccoli.

Guideline 3: Importance of food skills

Highly processed foods have become the easy choice in our food environment.  Food skills are essential to navigate the food environment and support healthy eating.  Food skills include the ability and knowledge to understand food labels, the ability to assess ripeness of vegetables and fruits, skills to plan meals within budget as well as technical skills to prepare meals. 

Food skills can be taught, learned and shared. At ZestyKits we believe food skills are fundamental to a healthy lifestyle. Our meal kits provide pre-measured fresh ingredients, recipes with illustrated instructions and ripe vegetables and fruits. As such, ZestyKits meal kits are a teaching tool, prevent food waste and are a time saver. 

New Canada Food Guide

A new version of the Canada Food Guide was released in January 2019. This new version of the Food Guide is a significant change from the previous Food Guide. The new Canadian food guide encourages Canadians to eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains foods, to chose protein that comes from plant more often, to cook more and to limit processed foods. Rather than recommending portions of the different food groups, this guide focuses on three food categories: 

  1. vegetables & fruits
  2. protein foods
  3. Whole grain

Changing one’s eating habits can be a serious challenge; ZestyKits simplifies cooking at home by planning weekly meals and providing pre-portioned ingredients and hand-made sauces to prepare delicious healthy meals. The new food guide encourages Canadians to increase their food skills and food literacy.

An example of a delicious and easy recipes that follows the recommendations of the Canadian Food Guide is the Green Curry Coconut Bowl.  Find the recipe (including the sauce and spice blend) here! 🙂

Healthy eating is more than the foods you eat

Healthy eating is more than the foods you eat. It is also about where, when, why and how you eat.

Be mindful of your eating habits

Benefits of being mindful of eating habits is being aware of a variety of aspects of your eating habits. These include but are not limited to:
– how much you eat
– why you eat
– what you eat

Being aware of your eating habits provides a number of benefits including:
– make healthier choices
– notice when you are hungry and full
– create a sense of awareness around your every day eating decisions

How to be mindful of your eating habits

Create a healthy eating environment by trying to eat in an environment that makes it easy to make healthy choices 

Use your senses. Eating uses all your senses. Try to pay attention to the smell, textures and flavours of your food.

Consider your eating habits by asking yourself questions about what you ate. Some questions may include:
– How fast you ate?
– Did you pay attention to what you ate?
– Did you eat with others?
– Where you bored?
– How much did you eat?

Cook more often

There are multiples benefits of cooking.  These benefits include but are not limited to:
– eating less processed foods
– lean cooking skills
– opportunity to be creative
– control salt and fat
– choose healthy ingredient

How to cook more often

You can make cooking faster and easier with the following tips:
– You can cook a larger batch so you cook once and have leftovers. You can also make large batch recipes likes: stew, soup, chili, casseroles, lasagna,… 
– You can cook extra rice or quinoa to use in other dishes later that week. 
– Reinvent your leftovers into new recipes. For example: Chili can become burritos or spaghetti.
– Use time saving tools like slow cookers and pressure cooker.
– Keep healthy ingredients handy by having a ready to cook grains in the pantry, canned beans, frozen pre-portioned fish, frozen vegetables, spices as well as a variety of fruits and vegetables.
–  Try healthy and low fat cooking methods like: baking, boiling, steaming, and grilling.

Enjoy your food

There are many benefits of enjoying your food which includes being open to trying new flavours and developing a healthy relationship with food. Knowing that you are making healthy choices and supporting your healthy lifestyle can help you enjoy your food even more. 

How to enjoy food

You can enjoying your food in numerous ways including:
– Spending quality time with loved ones at mealtime.
– Shopping in new specialty stores to find new foods and flavours.
– Cooking new recipes.
– Growing your own food.
– Getting to know your farmers and producers.
– choose foods that you like, that fits in your budget, lifestyle and that reflects your culture and beliefs.
– Try new foods to find a sense of wonder and even adventure.
– Take care to create a nice environment to eat. This can include eating with other,listening to music and setting the table nicely.

Eat meals with others

Enjoying healthy foods with family, friends, neighbours or co-workers is a great way to connect. It can provide many benefits and contribute to a healthy lifestyle. Eating with other can help you enjoy food by giving you the opportunity to share food traditions across generations and cultures. Food is usually the main part of celebrations; however, eating as a group can make a regular night a special event. 

How to eat with others more often

With our busy schedules, making time to enjoy meals with others requires some planning.  You can plan to eat with loved ones by:
– Having a regular family meal.
– Planing an activity nigh that includes games and making dinner together.
– Start a dinner party with friends and everyone takes a turn to host.
– Host a potluck with friends or family.

To really enjoy eating with other try to put away distractions like phones, take your time and use the meal experience as a time to connect.

Kids especially benefit from regular family meals as they are starting to develop their eating habits and behaviours. Eating together as a family can help kids:
– learn cooking skills.
– be creative which helps improve self-esteem.
– explore healthy foods.
– establish healthy eating routines.


Next weeks’ post will discuss the 3 guidelines of the Canadian Food guide:
– Guideline 1: Foundation for healthy eating
– Guideline 2: Foods and beverages that undermine healthy eating
– Guideline 3: Importance of food skills