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Nutritionists and Their Views on Canada's Food Guide 2019

Does Canada's Food Guide (CFG) meet the needs of Canadians?

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Health Canada unveiled the new version of Canada's Food Guide on January 22, 2019. The previous version dates back to 2007, but rules to guide the general public were published as far ago as 1942.

Nutritionist-Dietitians, the only professionals in the field of human nutrition, are in a good position to comment. Please note that we annotated hyperlinks of nutritionists-dietitians who commented on this new version at the end of this article.

This guide stands out from the other versions because it was designed based solely on science, with no influence from the food industry.

The emphasis has been placed on the nutritional quality of food rather than quantity. As such, the consumption of foods with little or no processing is encouraged, especially foods from plant origins such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole-grain foods.

Are you concerned about the lower presence of the milk and substitutes group?
It is indeed less visually present, but these foods have not been eliminated, contrary to a particular article. The former Meat and its Substitutes and Milk and its Substitutes groups merged into the protein category. To understand why milk was so present in the old guide, we need to put things in context. Over the past 12 years, calcium-rich foods' availability has improved significantly (e.g., calcium and vitamin D fortified vegetable beverages). Take the time to read this blog article written by the nutritionists at the M Nutrition clinics.

Are you visual and enjoy the plate concept?
This new plate design is tasty and straightforward. Still, you should know that nutritionist-dietitians have long recommended a plate with these proportions: half of the plate in vegetables and fruits, a quarter inprotein foods and the other quarter in whole grains.Similarly, this confirms the previous discourse of consuming 5 to 10 servings of vegetables and fruit and 2-3 servings of meat and substitutes every day.

With this healthy plate, it goes without saying that the portions are calculated by default. Likewise, listening to hunger and satiation signals remains a priority because the needs are different for different age groups.

Do you prefer quality or food quantity?
In this new guide, the emphasis is on proportions rather than portions. In fact, it is the first guide that does not contain portions nor food groups. There are now three categories with specific proportions.

The role of a nutritionist-dietitian is to guide and support you in improvingyour eating habits. Moreover, when specific reasons for consultation are present (diabetes, intestinal problems, food allergies, underweight, obesity or overweight children, etc.), interventions will aim to individualize the recommendations. For example, a potato is considered a starchy vegetable in a person with diabetes, whereas the potato is in the vegetable section on this plate. This is why it is important to remember that Canada's Food Guide (CFG) is intended for a sedentary and healthy population.

Find out what our scientific advisor, Marlène Bouillon, a nutritionist and Ph.D. holder, thinks about it:

I like this new version because it encourages variety, respect for individual preferences and classifies foods appropriately. The potato is a starchy food like some other vegetables for diabetics, but no one should fill half their plate with one vegetable anyway!

It encourages cooking from the ground up, and taking time around the family table is also great, not to mention, including cultural diversity in food choices.

I love the suggestion that grains should now be whole at all times, not 50% of the time. It is imperative for intestinal health and, in turn, for the microbiota.

I had mentioned on January 5 that for the elderly, protein sources, including dairy products, are precious and often very much appreciated, so not to be neglected. It was the LaPresse article that misled everyone with its sadly sensationalist headline.

Talking about proportions instead of portions is much more visual, and since we must respect our signals at all times, it doesn't change anything about when we should stop eating.

Water is indispensable and the right choice, and this, from a very young age. Alcohol in moderation is also an important message because we underestimate its impact on metabolic, hepatic and mental health.

Those who say that it will cost more must admit that eggs and legumes are not overpriced. As for other protein foods, for a quarter of the plate, you can get there by keeping an eye out on the flyers. Off-season frozen vegetables and fruits remain good choices, both for price and nutrition.

In summary, it is certainly innovative for us, but it is very similar to the Brazil 2015 guide and the Harvard plate published in 2014. We must now take the time to make it our own, which means reading it in its entirety.

– Marlène Bouillon


Cynthia Marcotte

Le nouveau Guide alimentaire canadien dans l’œil d’une nutritionniste (The new Food Guide from a nutritionist point of view) | Région zéro 8

Dévoilement du nouveau guide alimentaire — entrevue avec Marise Charron de Nutrisimple (New Food Guide annoucement interview with Marise Charron from Nutrisimple)


Bernard Lavallée

Hubert Cormier

Isabelle Huot

Sandra Griffin

Marjolaine Cadieux Les pieds dans le plats

Karine Gravel and Annie Ferland (Science & Fourchette)

Catherine Lepage

Julie Desgroseilliers

Louise-Lambert Lagacé and Catherine Lefebvre

Articles in LaPresse with nutritionist Catherine Lefebvre :


Bernard Lavallée at Radio-Canada

Bernard Lavallée at Dutrizac de 6 à 9

Simone Lemieux at ICI Québec

According to the OPDQ (Ordre professionnel des diététistes du Québec)
Canada's Food Guide is an excellent opportunity to reflect and take action on healthy eating.

The launch of the new Canada's Food Guide was held in Montreal, Quebec, in the presence of the Minister of Health, the Honourable Ginette C. Petitpas Taylor.

Ms. Paule Bernier, President of the OPDQ, actively participated as master of ceremonies and spoke on behalf of the Order.

Read the press release:

IMPORTANT: Do not rely solely on Canada's Food Guide to treat a particular medical condition that requires an adjustment in diet. Consult your doctor and a nutritionist for an individualized nutritional treatment plan.

Photo credit : Health Canada

Written by Marise Charron and Elisabeth Cerqueira, Dietitians-Nutritionists (Dt.P.) and co-founders of NutriSimple
Revised by Marlène Bouillon, Dt.P. Ph.D.

Across Quebec 514 990-7128 418 317-1288
Toll free 1 877 427-6664

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