Eating healthy doesn’t have to be intimidating, according to the federal government and a local nutritionist.

“It just needs to be nutritious and might I also dare say fun,” said Canada’s Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor.

Canada’s newly unveiled food guide also aims to be simple and does away with food groups and portion sizes, focusing instead on broader guidelines that include eating more plant-based protein and drinking more water.

Suggestions Registered Holistic Nutritionist at Inspired Living Nutrition Cordelia McFadyen says are good.

“That’s going to support all of our body systems, it’s going to support our sleep, our digestions, our moods and [water] is one of the easiest most accessible ways to increase your health,”said McFadyen.

According to the new food guide, half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables, the other half split between your protein and your whole grain foods.

Canadians should eat vegetables, fruits, whole grains and should choose plant-based proteins – such as legumes, nuts and tofu – more regularly, the guide says.

It also stresses that Canadians should make water their beverage of choice as a way to stay hydrated without consuming calories.

And for people struggling with the idea of making water the main thing you drink, McFadyen says there are ways to train your palate.

“When you are coming off a really high sugar based drink and the taste of water is not appetizing just add some lemon, lime, oranges, we want to reset that taste palate and then watch over time as your taste buds reset to that water flavour,” said McFadyen.

In eliminating specific food and portion recommendations, the guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group.

Hasan Hutchinson, director-general of nutritional policy and promotion at Health Canada, said the intent was not to eliminate dairy from the guide and pointed to examples where low-fat, low-sodium and unsweetened dairy products are listed within other recommended food categories, including suggested healthy proteins and beverages.

The new Food Guide was developed with input from science and health experts and excluded the input of industry to avoid past concerns about political interference.

“We really needed to keep that distance for any perceived or real conflict of interest,” Hutchinson said. “We felt very strongly about that because in the 2007 Food Guide there was a fair amount of criticism about the influence of industry and we think, to make sure we keep the confidence of Canadians and health professionals and other stakeholders, it was necessary to stay quite strict on that.”

The guide also points out consumers should read labels and be mindful of clever marketing as it often pushes processed food high in salt, fat and sugar.

“I thought it was really brave of the Canada food guide to make inclusion of that because that’s an awareness that some people are knowing and a lot aren’t aware of yet,” said McFadyen. 

New messages are also included in the new guide that promotes healthy behaviours involving food, such as reminding people to be mindful while eating and to eat meals with others.

The document released Tuesday is only part of Health Canada’s new healthy-eating recommendations. A report directed at health professionals and policymakers is to be released later this year, which will include more details on amounts and types of foods for hospitals, schools and seniors’ facilities to us to create menus or diets in clinical or institutional settings.

Files from The Canadian Press.

 

Luisa Alvarez