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Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide

For smart eating, one size doesn’t fit all. Each person is unique, with different tastes, nutrient and energy needs. The updated Canada’s Food Guide makes eating well flexible enough to suit the many differences among healthy people in all life stages.

Variety on Your Plate!

A food’s nutrient content is key to where it fits in the Food Guide. Within each group, the nutrient content of foods is similar. Eating foods from each group offers the variety of nutrients you need to be your best!

Vegetables and Fruit Group...Eat at least one dark green and one orange vegetable each day. Have vegetables and fruit more often than juice.
Grain Products Group... Make half your grain products whole grain each day.
Milk and Alternatives Group...Drink skim, 1%, or 2% milk each day for adequate calcium and vitamin D. Drink fortified soy beverages if you do not drink milk.
Meat and Alternatives Group... Eat at least two servings of fish each week. Have meat alternatives such as beans, lentils and tofu often.

Oils and Fats... For taste and enjoyment include a small amount – 30-45 ml (2 to 3 Tbsp) – of unsaturated fat each day. This includes oil used in cooking, salad dressings, margarine and mayonnaise. Use vegetable oils such as canola, olive and soybean. Choose soft margarines that are low in saturated and trans fats. Limit your intake of butter, hard margarine, lard and shortening as these are high in saturated or trans fats.

Variety Within… Within food groups, you need variety since no food supplies all the nutrients. A juicy orange supplies folate, but not beta-carotene; cantaloupe is high in beta-carotene, but not folate.

Variety Makes “Sense”… Combining nutritious foods of different colours, textures, tastes, shapes and temperatures makes meals more appealing. Consider broiled chicken brushed with barbecue sauce, broccoli and rice-nut pilaf, with cold milk and mixed berries. Choose foods with little or no added fat, sugar or salt.

Balance for Your Needs

Serving Savvy…Visit healthcanada.gc.ca/foodguide to find out how much you should eat from each food group. This will depend on your age, gender and activity level. The Food Guide also explains how to figure out what counts as a recommended amount of food, called a serving. For example, count 1 slice of whole grain bread as 1 serving of grains products; or count 1 cup of cooked green vegetables as 1 serving of vegetables and fruits. The goal is to get the recommended servings from each food group without overdoing it on calories. Be aware that eating extra calories on a regular basis can result in weight gain.

Over Several Days… Although the Food Guide offers daily advice, it’s okay to balance your food intake over two or three days. If you come up short or eat too much one day, adjust what you eat over the next few days.

Moderation for Your Health

Make Choices Count… Choose foods and beverages that meet your energy needs – without overdoing fat, sugars and salt. Eating in moderation helps you keep a healthy weight; it may also help lower your risk of developing health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease.
Every Food Fits … All your favourite foods can be included as part of a healthy diet. Most of the time, choose a variety of foods from the four food groups. Enjoy high-calorie and high-fat favourites in small amounts or less often.

Food Guide Choices for You!

Grab-and-Go Breakfast…Include foods from different food groups.

  • Put cold whole-grain cereal in a covered container. Buy low-fat milk at school or work. Get some vitamin C from an orange or a grapefruit juice box.
  • Make a cold smoothie by blending low-fat yogurt and frozen berries. Enjoy with some graham crackers.
Hungry for a Snack…Make snacks count; use them to fill food-group gaps.
  • Mix up almonds and dried fruit. Bag a small portion.
  • Top whole-grain crackers with reduced-fat cheddar cheese and apple slices.
Lunch to Go…Think variety and fun! (For safety, keep food cold. Put a freezer pack into an insulated lunch bag.)
  • Tuck mixed greens, lower-fat turkey or ham, shredded cheese and a tablespoon of light salad dressing in a whole-grain pita pocket. Wrap it up and enjoy with a piece of fruit and a glass of water.
  • Pack single-serving, ready-to-eat foods. Try some string cheese, a whole-grain granola bar, fruit and a juice box.
Time Pressed for Meal “Prep”…Build on convenience.
  • Prepare a frozen pizza and toss a salad made from pre-cut, pre-washed greens to which you add tomatoes, green peppers and broccoli. Serve with low-fat milk.
  • Toss cooked pasta with microwaved frozen veggies, pasta sauce and lower-fat shredded cheese. Serve with spinach salad.
Eating Out…Choose wisely
  • Get more nutrition at fast food restaurants. Order milk or orange juice as a beverage; a plain baked potato or mixed green salad as a side dish; and extra veggies on a pizza or sub sandwich.
  • Make restaurant portions fit the Food Guide’s recommended serving sizes. Order appetizer portions, share with a friend or take some home for leftovers the next day.
Good nutrition and active living are important parts of a healthy lifestyle. Make the Food Guide work for you.
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