Eat With Pleasure: What The Canadian Nutrition Guide Recommends

Health 2023

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Eat With Pleasure: What The Canadian Nutrition Guide Recommends
Eat With Pleasure: What The Canadian Nutrition Guide Recommends
Video: Eat With Pleasure: What The Canadian Nutrition Guide Recommends
Video: What's in Canada's new food guide? 2023, February
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Health Canada published new dietary guidelines that have made a lot of noise both in the country and abroad. The last time the national guide was updated in 2007, and then it was a completely standard document with food categories, norms of consumption of proteins, fats and carbohydrates, many numbers and percentages. But in 2019, Canadians made a small revolution - they released a short, only two pages, and very cute guide to nutrition with lyrical recommendations like "Enjoy your food" and "Eat plenty of fruit."

The new guide caused a lot of discussion. Most are inclined to believe that Canadians have made a breakthrough: the health service has finally started talking to the population in simple terms and at the same time took into account the eco-trends - the advice to eat more plant foods fits well into the modern agenda. On the other hand, experts note that the call to reduce the consumption of meat and dairy products could negatively affect livestock, which is actively trying to become more environmentally friendly right now. One way or another, the Canadian recommendations are worth heeding - they are based on the results of the latest research, and for the first time take into account the psychological and cultural aspects of nutrition.

Text: Vasilisa Kirilochkina

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What should be on the plate

The concept of the ideal plate has long been used to demonstrate a balanced diet - their versions were developed at Harvard and Stanford, the "plate" is used by the Ministry of Health of Great Britain, Spain and a number of other countries. But the Canadians have created, perhaps, the simplest version of the diet: half should come from fruits and vegetables, a quarter - from sources of protein (primarily vegetable, including soy, other legumes and nuts), another quarter - on cereals and whole grain pasta or bread. There are no separate sources of fat on the plate - fat is present in sufficient quantities in protein-rich foods, that is, fish, eggs, meat, as well as beans, nuts and avocados.

An important feature of the Canadian guide is the emphasis on plant foods and a set of recommendations on how to get all the necessary substances from it. Although there are no explicit bans on milk or meat in the guide, there are no recommendations for their mandatory presence in the diet - and this is a bold move that goes against traditional recommendations. The Russian Ministry of Health, for example, advises eating three servings of dairy products a day (only 800 grams). Although the WHO does not focus on milk derivatives, it does mention them in the context of saturated fat consumption. Many national guides recommend drinking a glass of milk a day - but not Canadian. Perhaps this is due to the active controversy around the benefits of dairy products. They include sugars (lactose, which one in six Canadian people cannot tolerate), proteins (mainly casein, which often causes food allergies) and saturated fat. There is a fierce debate about the dangers and benefits of the latter, but the results of most studies still show that the consumption of saturated fats should be limited and replaced with unsaturated ones.

For the same reason, red meat has fallen out of favor with Canadians: there is compelling evidence that its consumption increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and colon cancer. But the new guide is not intimidated by the possible consequences of malnutrition. This is a positive manifesto for a healthy attitude towards food, in which the emphasis is not on individual ingredients or even on foods, but on eating habits that can be embedded in any lifestyle.

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No guilt

The second page of the guide is devoted to eating habits.In the interactive version on the site, you can read a detailed transcript of each item, find useful recipes, tips for budget grocery shopping and menu planning. But the main points fit into several sentences and resemble a motivational mantra rather than official government recommendations: approach nutrition issues consciously, cook more often yourself, enjoy food, eat with loved ones.

This approach may seem naive, but in fact, avoiding the concept of "healthy" and "harmful" foods, categorical imperatives and strict rules helps to avoid feelings of guilt for what you eat "imperfect". The advice to mindful eating leaves much more room for the imagination than the directive to eat six small meals a day. The idea of ​​cooking at home often sounds more positive than an admonition to avoid convenience foods. Nonetheless, Canadians have added three of the most important caveats to their guide: reading food ingredients, limiting sugar, salt and saturated fat, and remembering that grocery marketing can motivate us to buy certain brands, and that's not always a good thing.

And the child will understand

The full version of the guide is sixty-two pages - but it is intended exclusively for professionals: doctors and organizations that supply food to schools and other government agencies. And citizens, according to Minister of Health Ginette Petipa Taylor, should care about the formation of healthy eating habits, and not about food categories and calories. Therefore, the two-page guide is already being distributed to kindergartens and schools, clinics, hospitals, residences for the elderly and other organizations. Moreover, a special mobile application was created for the guide with a lot of useful information - from recipes to a detailed analysis of the marketing gimmicks of manufacturers.

The new Canadian guide can be called at least convenient: it is much easier to follow than the confusing WHO recommendations like "reduce the consumption of saturated fat to 10% of total energy consumption." The shift in focus from individual nutrients to nutrition as part of life, working with the social context, relevance of data and ease of presentation - all this together gives hope that the new Canadian recommendations will be implemented (statistics of cardiovascular diseases in the world indicate that traditional recommendations are few who follows). As a maximum, the Canadians managed to clearly convey the idea, which in the context of modern healthy lifestyle hysteria has acquired particular importance: if you are a healthy person, you do not need to get hung up on nutrition. Food should never be guilty or paranoid. “Don't complicate things. Food should be nutritious and enjoyable, that's all,”says Taylor. It's hard to disagree with her.

Photos: Lazartivan - stock.adobe.com, Aleksei - stock.adobe.com, supamas - stock.adobe.com

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