Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Top Ten Changes I'd Like to See in Canada's New Food Guide

While Canada's Food Guide's revision has yet to be announced, all signs point to soon. The department has gone on record multiple times over the course of the past few years stating that changes were required, and with our new Liberal government and its terrific appointment of Dr. Jane Philpott to Minister of Health, I'm confident that change is coming.

Though there are many things I'd like to see change with the Guide's next iteration, here are ten things (in no particular order) that I see as its most important to-dos:
  1. A revision process that is insulated from the food industry. Sure, let industry submit their recommendations, but make sure those submissions are made public, and as opposed to last time around, don't give the food industry seats on Food Guide advisory panels.
  2. Remove juice's fruit equivalency and provide an explicit recommendation as to the maximum amount of juice a child should drink in a day (half a cup).
  3. Caution against the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and specifically include sugar-sweetened milk and milk alternatives as well as 100% juice as products worth minimizing.
  4. End the Guide's nutrient focus. Last time around the Guide's primary purpose was to ensure Canadians' nutrient requirements were being met. This time around I hope to see a food focused guide where the emphasis is on broad patterns of eating.
  5. Remove the number of servings recommendations altogether. Our country doesn't have a problem with eating too little and research has been done proving that Canadians underestimate serving sizes and virtually no one does (or will) weigh and measure their foods.
  6. Caution against the regular consumption of processed red meats.
  7. Recommend that artificial trans-fats be "avoided" rather than simply "limited"
  8. Get rid of the "Dairy and alternatives" group altogether. These are not magic foods. They're better off being in part of a protein category.
  9. Downgrade the Guide's saturated fat phobic messages and replace them with the simple suggestion to swap saturated fats with unsaturated whenever possible.
  10. Simultaneously discourage restaurant meals and ultra-processed foods while pushing home cooking and meals eaten together around tables.
It's been nearly a decade since Canada's awful current Food Guide was released. It's definitely time for change.