Canada’s Food Guide

  • The Canada Food Guide is a visual representation of what your plate should look like. The Canada Food Guide is a simple tool to promote healthy eating.
  • A balanced meal is the key to healthy eating. A balanced meal should include vegetables and fruits, protein and whole grains.  Let’s now review the different categories of Canada’s Food Guide.

Vegetables & fruits

  • Try making half (1/2) your plate vegetables and fruits.
  • Vegetables and fruit offer fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which are important for heart health.
  • Examples include apples, carrots, bananas, broccoli, cabbage, melon, pear, squash, beets, collard greens, okra, eggplant, turnip and many more.
  • Fruit juices and fruit concentrates are high in sugar and low in fibre. Replace juice with water and chose whole or cut vegetables and fruits instead of juice.
  • Try healthier cooking methods like baking, roasting, steaming or stir-frying. Add flavour to your vegetables and fruits by adding olive oil, lemon juice, favoured vinegar or herbs and spices.
  • To reduce cost: buy in-season, on sale, frozen or canned options. For frozen and canned options, compare the nutrient facts table to choose products that are lower in sodium, sugar and saturated fat.

Protein

  • Try making one quarter (1/4) of your plate a protein food.
  • Protein is the part of the plate that keeps you full and satisfied. Protein offers iron, zinc and many other vitamins & minerals which are important to help build muscle and other tissue.
  • Examples of protein foods include meats, poultry, egg, tofu, dairy and dairy alternatives, beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, nuts, and seeds. Based on the Mediterranean style of eating, proteins to include more often are fish, nuts and legumes (kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas and lentils).
  • Try healthier ways to prepare your protein foods by choosing plant-based proteins more often, rinsing and draining canned products, choosing unsalted nuts and seeds, draining off extra fat after cooking, trimming visible fat/skin from meats, choosing fresh protein foods that have no added sauce/seasoning, and choosing lower fat cheeses, lower fat yogurt and lower fat milk instead of full-fat options.
  • To reduce cost, buy meat on sale and freeze what you won’t eat right away; buy dairy in larger containers; use eggs, tofu, beans and lentils more often as these are cheaper.

Grains

  • Try making one quarter (1/4) of your plate a whole grain.
  • Whole grains are digested slowly and help keep you full longer. Whole grains have been linked to a decreased risk of heart disease, improved blood sugar control and improved weight management and waist circumference. Whole grains are a healthy source of carbohydrate.
  • Whole grains include all parts of the grain, and offer many vitamins, minerals, fibre and energy. When reading an ingredient list, choose foods that have the words “whole grain” followed by the name of the grain.
  • Examples of whole grain foods: brown rice, whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, quinoa, amaranth, sorghum, millet, buckwheat, barley, couscous.
  • In the whole grain section, we also include starchy vegetables, such as potato and corn.
  • Try healthier ways to prepare your whole grains by leaving out or reducing the amount of added salt, limiting sauces and condiments, and adding spices and herbs to enhance flavour.
  • To reduce cost: buy in bulk, buy bread products on sale and freeze what you won’t eat right away.

Water

  • Water provides the best hydration. It is best to make water your main drink.
  • To add flavour, consider adding fresh fruit /vegetables (berries, lemon, cucumbers) or herbs to your water. You can also try carbonated water if you like some fizz in your drink.

Importance of regular meals

  • When you eat is as important as what you eat. It is important to refuel your body throughout the day, by having three balanced meals at regular times, and incorporating healthy snacks if you feel hungry.
  • Balanced meals, using Canada’s Food Guide should keep you full for 3-4 hours.

Want more information?

  • Book an appointment with our Registered Dietitian.
  • Speak to your Exercise Therapist.
  • Attend our Heart Healthy Education on Heart Healthy Eating.