Does the Canada Food Guide Need a Healthy Dose of Reality?
1 – SIX to EIGHT servings of grains per day?!? Eating this many grains a day (and not simply 1 or 2) can really affect how you feel and your bodyweight. Years ago when people worked physically outdoors, people needed all the energy and starch grains provide. However, nowadays, we are notorious sitters, and all the extra energy of grains, especially processed grains, quickly spikes our blood sugar, making us tired, causing disease and other issues, causing sugar cravings, and generally poor health. I would recommend one to two healthy unprocessed grains a day. Many people also have food sensitivities/intolerances to a lot of gluten containing grains like wheat, and aren’t even aware of it. This causes weight gain, weight loss resistance, fatigue, inflammation, digestive issues and more. Not to mention many grains (even whole grain/multi grain cereals or bread) are processed, stripped of nutrients, and combined with sugar to make a tasty meal that should be considered dessert! By the way, a slice of bread is actually almost 2 servings.
2 - Dairy – Although I think unsweetened cottage cheese or Greek yogurt, and even whey protein powder are great proteins, many people are often intolerant or sensitive to dairy (not just due to lactose intolerance), without even knowing it (like myself!). Again, this can cause a whole host of problems like I mentioned above. Also, milk has a lot of sugar in it: about 12g of sugar or so per cup. This can also cause weight gain/weight loss issues. Then there are concerns about antibiotics and hormones in milk, but I won’t get into that here.
Would it surprize you to know that the majority of the funding for the Canada Food Guide is from the dairy and the grain industry? Hmmmm…..
3 – Meat and alternatives. The Canada food guide suggests 2 meat or alternative products per day, which is too low. We should be eating a lean protein at each meal, whether it is a high protein/low starch grain (like quinoa, amaranth, hemp or buckwheat), legume/bean, or lean animal/fish protein. Why? Protein helps balance the carbohydrates we are eating, and stops them from spiking our blood sugar (the cause of fatigue, weight gain, and lots of diseases). Also, lack of protein causes loss of muscle tone, immune and liver issues, as well as lowered metabolism – again creating obesity and weight issues.
4 – Vegetables – 7 servings of fruit and vegetables a day, is a bit low. Adults, especially men, need about 8-10 servings a day of healthy, low-starch vegetables to get enough nutrients and fibre to stay healthy and “regular.” With women, 9 servings has been shown to be even better at maintaining good health -especially with our stressful lives, and all the toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis.
To summarize: Decrease your grains (especially processed, starchy grains), increase your protein, healthy fat, and vegetable/fruit servings for optimum health, wellness, energy levels, "regularity," and weight loss!
One thing that the Canada Food Guide doesn’t mention is healthy fats like coconut butter/oil, avocado, nuts, flax/chia seed, and olive oil (just don’t cook with it!). I recommend a small amount of healthy fat at each (or most) meals to balance blood sugar, help your body create hormones, repaired damaged cells (much of your cells, especially brain and thyroid are made of fat!), and help you LOSE weight!