Ask an expert: should I follow Canada’s food guide to plan healthy meals?
Canada’s Food Guide is being updated for the first time in over a decade, and evidence-based research is taking centre stage.
Kathy Romses, a public health dietitian with Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), is one of the experts who provided input into the revised guidelines. In honour of World Food Day on October 16 and the new guide, which will be released in 2018/2019, we asked Romses about how technology, new research on healthy eating and awareness about environmental sustainability are playing a bigger role in our modern eating habits.
Q: I feel like I eat a balanced diet, but should I follow Canada’s Food Guide every day to stay healthy?
A: Canada’s Food Guide is meant to be a guideline. It is not something that we have to follow in every respect, every day. Dietitians usually suggest choosing foods that fit within the guide around 80 per cent of the time. When attending celebrations, birthdays or cultural events, we can occasionally treat ourselves with foods that fall outside of the guide. Another way to think about healthy eating is through the lens of Vancouver Coastal Health’s Healthy Plate, which shows us how we should be filling half of our plate with vegetables, one quarter with whole grains and one quarter with meat and meat alternatives. Add a piece of fruit and a serving of milk or milk alternatives, such as a fortified soy beverage, to complete your meal.
Q: I heard that the new guide is promoting a more plant-based diet. Can I still get enough protein from meat alternatives?
A: A plant-based diet has less of an environmental footprint and it includes many healthy options such as peas, beans, lentils, eggs, nuts and seeds. I recommend that people who choose a plant-based diet include lots of variety in their meals to help them meet their nutrient needs. Enjoyment of food and eating together are also very important. Studies show that when we share food, we tend to eat healthier and feel better. VCH has a good resource about this called Sharing Food, Creating Fun.
Read the full interview at VCHRI.