New Year, New Canada’s Food Guide!

Health Canada released the new Canada’s Food Guide in January 2019 following a multi-year consultation process and extensive review of current evidence on food and health as part of Canada’s overall Healthy Eating Strategy.

The new guidelines and tools have also considered traditional foods, cultural diversity and environmental sustainability. As a dietitian and lover of all things food, I was excited to see the new guide and begin to work with it in my practice setting and in my personal life. How would this guide be different than previous versions? And then, a fellow employee asked me a great question. “When was the first Canada Food Guide introduced?” My interest sparked, I spent some time that evening reading about the history of Canada’s Food Guide. Very interesting for sure!

The first food guide, “Canada’s Official Food Rules,” was introduced to the Canadian public in July 1942 acknowledging wartime food rationing while endeavoring to prevent nutritional deficiencies and to improve the health of Canadians. The food guide has since been transformed eight times with new names, new looks, and new messages - yet always guiding food selection and promoting the nutritional health of Canadians.

From recommending 1 serving of potatoes a day in 1942, suggesting we frequently consume liver until 1961, when it started losing its stardom, to our modern-day healthy eating recommendations of variety, balance and mindfulness many things have changed and yet, many have held true.

Gone is the old “all-in-one” rainbow format tool. It has been replaced by a suite of online resources to communicate dietary guidance to consumers, health professionals and policy makers helping to deliver healthy eating information in a mobile-friendly web application that is available anytime, anywhere at

The new Canada’s Food Guide takes on a broader approach with actionable advice for both what and how one can eat healthier. Its modern and eye-catching ‘whole plate” design provides at a glance information to guide Canadian’s to eat a variety of healthy foods each day. Fill half of your plate with vegetables and fruits, ¼ of your plate with protein foods and ¼ of your plate with whole grains and make water your drink of choice.

Canada’s Food Guide Healthy Eating Recommendations:

Eat a Variety of Healthy Foods Each Day

  • Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, whole grain foods and protein foods. Choose protein foods that come from plants more often. Protein foods include legumes, nuts, seeds, tofu, fortified soy beverage, fish, shellfish, eggs, poultry, lean red meat including wild game, lower fat milk, lower fat yogurts, lower fat kefir, and cheeses lower in fat and sodium.

  • Choose foods with healthy fats, found in nuts & seeds, fatty fish, avocado, vegetable oils & soft margarine, instead of foods higher in saturated fats, such as fatty meats, high fat dairy products, some highly processed foods and some tropical oils like palm oil and coconut oil.

  • Limit highly processed foods. If you choose these foods, eat them less often and in small amounts.

  • Make water your drink of choice.

  • Read food labels to understand what is in your food and to help make healthy food choices.

  • Be aware that food marketing can influence your choices.

Healthy eating is more than the foods you eat. It is also about where, when, why and how you eat.

  • Be mindful of your eating habits

  • Cook more often

  • Enjoy your food

  • Eat meals with others

Always keep in mind that food guides are just that, guides. They are meant to be basic education tools, designed to help people follow a healthy diet. They have considered extensive dietary analysis, national nutrition goals, data from food consumption surveys, and issues of food supply and production. Food guides translate the science of nutrition and health into practical advice around food choices, incorporating variety and flexibility.

Discover the new Canada’s Food Guide online suite of resources for yourself, featuring the Food Guide Snapshot, actionable advice, videos and recipes. Resources will be constantly enhanced so keep coming back!

If you are interested in reading more about the history of Canada’s Food Guide, check out this link:

Kim Jeffery has been a Registered Dietitian for 27 years and is a member of the College of Dietitians of Alberta. For the past 9 years Kim has used her expertise to help ensure the meals produced at Calgary Meals on Wheels are nutritious and healthy for our clients.

Disclaimer: This information is provided by our Registered Dietitian and is not meant to replace advice from your medical doctor or health professional regarding your individual needs. It is intended for educational and informational purposes only.