Canada’s Food Guide: IGNORING suggested updates helps you LOSE weight

Canada's Food Guide

  • Why food guides MUST be consumed with a grain of salt
  • Updates to Canada’s Food Guide go AGAINST what we know about whole foods
  • LOSE WEIGHT by simplifying your approach

Canada’s Food Guide is getting a face lift.

Some of the proposed changes boil my blood. Some make my heart sing. Most of them make eating CONFUSING. Especially if you’re working hard to navigate the wild west of what-to-eat.

Canada's Food Guide

Who am I to review the proposed updates to Canada’s Food Guide?

For YEARS I had a complicated relationship with food. I want to tell you how I got healthy 19 years ago.

Before I figured it out, I tried to PERFECTLY follow food rules. But after weeks of restrictions I’d break down and binge. It was a long road. But eventually I became flexible and that was a HUGE turning point.

Through years of trial and error I learned that when you can bend you won’t break. In fact you’ll do better. You’ll REACH and MAINTAIN a healthy weight naturally.

Bottom line?

Eating good enough is enough.

In other words, don’t get lost in the details of Canada’s Food Guide.

I learned the hard way to SIMPLY focus on:

Eating roughly balanced meals (and snacks when hungry)
made mostly of whole foods.

This approach gives you a healthy body and mind. Then you can go after your REAL goals.

Job description of Canada’s Food Guide

Canada’s Food Guide and all food guides—whether from England, the United States, Australia or anywhere else, share basically the same information. They show you what a roughly balanced meal made mostly of whole foods looks like. The key is to ROUGHLY and MOSTLY follow it.

You’ll reach a healthy weight FASTER and more EASILY if you don’t get lost in the details.

UK Food Guide
American Food Guide Pyramid
Australian Food Guide

 

What can we learn from the proposed changes to Canada’s Food Guide?

The updates to Canada’s Food Guide have been published via a marked-up version of the original. This document looks similar to an assignment a caring teacher might hand back to you in high school.

Canadian Food Guide

To date most of the criticism has been:

1. Does anyone even care about Canada’s Food Guide?
Like, does anyone actually read it?
(Am I alone in hanging out on park benches with my coveted copy?)

2. The proposed changes are too industry-friendly.

…However, my biggest beef is:

Is this guide user-friendly?

And are the updates based on fact? To be specific, the facts we KNOW about whole foods.

Understanding WHY it’s ok to ignore some proposed updates to Canada’s Food Guide, will help you GET HEALTHY and make weight loss a NON-ISSUE.

In this post I’ve weighed-in on 10 proposed updates to Canada’s Food Guide. Here’s what to look for:

Legend

Ignore this proposed Canada’s Food Guide updateIGNORE this proposed update to Canada’s Food Guide
Be flexible with this proposed Canada’s Food Guide updateBE FLEXIBLE with this proposed update to Canada’s Food Guide
Apply this proposed Canada’s Food Guide update as often as you can APPLY this proposed update to Canada’s Food Guide as often as you can

Canada's Food Guide - Potatoes

Canada’s Food Guide proposed update #1:

Potatoes are crossed off the Vegetables and Fruit food group

Potatoes are crossed off the Vegetables and Fruit food group

My first thought was potatoes were being pulled from the Vegetables and Fruit food group and reclassified as a carbohydrate. Why? A raw potato consists of:

  • Water: 79% water
  • Carbohydrates: 17% (88% of which is starch)
  • Protein: 2%
  • Fat: negligible

But the closest Canada’s Food Guide has to a carbohydrate group is Grain Products. And potatoes aren’t a grain product. Potatoes are botanically classified as a vegetable. But nutritionally they’re a starchy food.

Potatoes are also a WHOLE FOOD; created in nature—NOT a factory.

It’s a fact that:

Eating natural food
helps you reach and maintain a healthy weight NATURALLY.

Natural food is also known as:

  • fresh food
  • whole food
  • one-ingredient food

…As opposed to processed food, junk food, convenience food or factory food. These UNNATURAL products are NOT food.

My healthy approach to potatoes that makes losing weight EASY:
When making a roughly balanced dinner I include potatoes probably 3 times a week. I love the UK’s Food Guide, called the Eatwell Guide. It’s easy to understand at-a-glance.

Eatwell Guide - the10principles

This colourful pie graph represents a meal on a plate.

Potatoes are a starchy carbohydrate (yellow section of the Eatwell Guide). So when I serve myself dinner, I plop whatever version of potato I’m eating onto about 1/3 of my plate.

I lost weight when I STOPPED being scared
to eat potatoes
& began eating them in the following ways:

CHIPS:
I like potatoes cut into wedges, tossed in olive oil, sprinkled in sea salt and then baked at 400F for about 25 minutes—or until crispy. Sometimes Alex and I dip these homemade chips in ketchup or mayonnaise (that has a squirt of Sriracha sauce to add spice). But usually I like them just as they are. We call these Marianne’s Potatoes after a friend who suggested this WHOLE FOODS alternative to commercial oven chips (made with artificial ingredients).

MASHED:
Use butter and whole milk to make mashed potatoes. You can also throw in some crushed garlic, chopped broccoli or full-fat cheese. Get fancy!

BAKED:
One of my favourite ways to eat potatoes is the good old fashioned baked potato with full-fat sour cream.

ROASTED:
Roasted potatoes with rosemary are delicious.

Each of these types of potatoes are made by adding one-ingredient foods to one-ingredient foods.

PLEASE NOTE: No matter how we prepare potatoes we keep the skin ON.

The SKIN is the most nutritious part because it’s full of fiber. Fiber helps you fill up naturally. Then you know when to STOP eating. Fiber also takes longer to digest so you stay full looonger. (Ah, the beauty of whole foods.) The benefits are endless, including the wonderful texture skin adds to food. So don’t peel your potatoes! It adds time to meal prep and is WASTEFUL.

For the 10 years I was overweight: I ONLY ate boiled potatoes or baked potatoes (without anything added).

Don’t be afraid of this gorgeous WHOLE FOOD. I lost weight when I started eating potatoes prepared in a variety of ways and making them part of a balanced meal.

Canada’s Food Guide proposed update verdict:

Ignore this proposed Canada’s Food Guide updateI will NOT be cutting potatoes from my balanced meals. And I’m not alone.

Potatoes have become a staple food in many parts of the world and an integral part of much of the world’s food supply. Potatoes are the world’s fourth-largest food crop…
Potato Pro

Eliminate juice in favour of whole fruits and vegetables

Canada’s Food Guide proposed update #2:

“Eliminate juice in favour of whole fruits and vegetables.”

Eliminate juice in favour of whole fruits and vegetables

My healthy approach to juice that makes losing weight EASY:

I stopped drinking sugar water—whether it be sugar in coffee or tea, diet or regular pop or juice—years ago.

Again, this all comes back to fiber. Glorious fiber! Let’s talk OJ. When oranges are processed to make juice, the fiber is removed and additives are put in. Then it’s easy to consume a lot of juice. Why?

  • Just one glass of juice requires 3-4 pieces of fruit. Most people would NEVER sit down and eat that many oranges. But when this fruit is processed, it’s stripped of the segment walls, pulp and pith (the stringy, spongy white stuff between the peel and the fruit). Without fiber it’s easy to knock back a glass of orange juice… or two.
  • All the additives in OJ confuse your body and make it easy to want MORE OJ.

When oranges are processed to make juice, the fiber is removed and additives are put in

Stick to whole fruits and vegetables. They help you (say it with me!) fill up naturally. Then you DON’T eat more than you need.

Canada’s Food Guide proposed update verdict:

Ignore this proposed Canada’s Food Guide updateJuice SHOULD be kicked to the curb!

Add "Whole" to "Grain Products

Canada’s Food Guide proposed update #3:

Add “Whole” to “Grain Products.” Food group renamed: Whole Grain Products

Add “Whole” to “Grain Products.” Food group renamed: Whole Grain Products

My healthy approach to Whole Grain Products that makes losing weight EASY:

The closer your food is to it’s natural state the better it works with your (natural) body. When grains are processed, they’re stripped of the germ (nutrient packed core) and bran (fiber); the two most nutritious parts of the grain.

When grains are processed, they're stripped of the germ

Refined grains generally consist of the endosperm ONLY, which is a starchy carbohydrate and nutritionally inferior. (I think I need to say nutritionally inferior more often. Meow!)

Don’t deny your body the natural nutrients and FIBER that are part of whole grain products. Comparing steel cut oats to rolled oats explains why whole grains are best.

That said, I do eat white bread occasionally and white pasta. And I only started eating brown rice recently and LOVE it. Be flexible. Be kind to yourself!

Canada’s Food Guide proposed update verdict:

Ignore this proposed Canada’s Food Guide updateI agree! Eat WHOLE grain products as often as you can.

Add "1% or less fat" to "Milk and Alternatives

Canada’s Food Guide proposed update #4:

Add “1% or less fat” to “Milk and Alternatives.” Food group renamed: 1% or less fat Milk and Alternatives

Food group renamed: 1% or less fat Milk and Alternatives

My healthy approach to Milk and Alternatives that makes losing weight EASY:

I drink whole milk (3.25%) and eat other full-fat milk products. Milk in its most natural state is 3.25% fat. Whereas skim milk, 1% and 2% milk are modified to (CONFUSE your body! and) make it low fat.

Fat from a natural source is good for you.

The closer a food is to it’s natural state the healthier it is. And the healthiest choice helps you lose weight NATURALLY.

One of my most read blog posts explains the BEAUTY of drinking whole milk.

For the 10 years I was overweight: I ONLY drank skim milk.

Don’t be afraid of full-fat milk! I lost weight when I started drinking whole milk and making it part of a balanced meal.

Canada’s Food Guide proposed update verdict:

Ignore this proposed Canada’s Food Guide updateI will CONTINUE eating full-fat dairy products.

Eat most cheeses rarely

Canada’s Food Guide proposed update #5:

“Eat most cheeses rarely”

Eat most cheeses rarely

My healthy approach to cheese that makes losing weight EASY:

This proposed update is vague and thus, confusing. Daaaaahrling.

Does “Eat most cheeses rarely” mean eat some cheeses often?

The cheese is crossed out so I’m guessing the suggestion is to try not to eat cheese. And because cheese is part of the Milk and Alternatives food group, which is proposed to be updated to 1% or less fat Milk and Alternatives, it’s fair to assume that when you “rarely” eat cheese it should be of the low-fat variety. However…

Just like milk, low-fat cheese is MORE processed than full-fat cheese.

So full-fat cheese is more natural. Natural is healthiest. And the healthiest option helps you lose weight.

For the 10 years I was overweight: I never ate anything but ultra-low-fat cheese.

But for the last 19 years I’ve been a healthy weight I’ve been eating all different types of full-fat cheese. I love Brie, Gruyère, and real Parmesan; the kind that comes in a block. I eat cheese most days at lunch and at dinner when we have pizza.

Don’t be scared of cheese. Just eat cheese in proportion to the other food groups you consume. For instance, a cheese sandwich with lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise along with an apple and glass of milk or latte.

Canada’s Food Guide proposed update verdict:

Ignore this proposed Canada’s Food Guide updateEat full-fat cheese as part of a roughly balanced meal made mostly of whole foods.

Beans, nuts, seafood, poultry and alternatives

Canada’s Food Guide proposed update #6:

Rename the Meat and Alternatives food group: Beans, nuts, seafood, poultry and alternatives

Rename the Meat and Alternatives food group: Beans, nuts, seafood, poultry and alternatives

My healthy approach to Meat and Alternatives that makes losing weight EASY:

Generally I eat meat once or twice a week.

VARIETY is key to healthy eating. I love the new name for this food group. It spells out all the excellent meat alternatives.

I love animals. After seeing a documentary called The Ghosts in our Machines a few years ago I started to only eat organic meat. It costs more but we eat it less. And in doing so we’ve fallen in love with so many wonderful vegetarian dishes – many which can be made to last a few nights which is handy after a busy day. Organic meat is better for the animal, the environment and you. Find your local butcher.

Alex was an “I eat meat at every meal” kind-of-guy when I met him. But after seeing the documentary mentioned above, he was equally set on cutting back and making sure the animal had a good life. This documentary fell on my birthday a few years ago. It was the doc I most wanted to see but was most afraid to see. I knew I needed to educate myself on the truth of supermarket meat, but I was distressed about seeing images of factory farms. But we cannot hide from the truth. When I understood what was going on at these farms it was MUCH easier to make decisions that are healthier for everybody.

Canada’s Food Guide proposed update verdict:

Ignore this proposed Canada’s Food Guide updateI like it! Eat meat alternatives as often as you can for ethical reasons. When you eat meat do your best to buy it from a butcher who:

…sources meat from animals raised humanely, fed a diet of real food that is natural to their diet, without the injection of drugs.
The Healthy Butcher

My healthy approach to Meat and Alternatives that's made weight loss easy for the last 19 years

Canada’s Food Guide proposed update #7:

Eat lean meat and eliminate red meat

Eat lean meat and eliminate red meat

My healthy approach to eating meat that makes losing weight EASY:

I eat steak or a hamburger, pork, chicken, turkey, etc. But for ethical reasons (previously mentioned) and to maintain a varied diet, I try to eat beans, nuts, seafood, poultry and alternatives for a few days after I’ve eaten meat (whether it’s red meat or lean meat).

One reason this update was put forward is because “Beef is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.”

In fact:

…eating less red meat would be a better way for people to cut carbon emissions than giving up their cars.
The Guardian Newspaper

Every choice we make affects the environment. We have a responsibility to make sustainable choices.

For the 10 years I was overweight: I NEVER ate red meat and went for long stretches of time without eating meat.

For the 19 years I’ve been a healthy weight I’ve been eating red meat and lean meat.

Canada’s Food Guide proposed update verdict:

Ignore this proposed Canada’s Food Guide updateEat red meat and lean meat if you wish. But try to eat meat alternatives for a few days after.

Move eggs to the end of the list as they have "less proven value than peanut or nut butters, shelled nuts or seeds

Canada’s Food Guide proposed update #8:

Move eggs to the end of the list as they have “less proven value than peanut or nut butters, shelled nuts or seeds”

Move eggs to the end of the list

My healthy approach to eating eggs that makes losing weight EASY:

Where eggs appear on Canada’s Food Guide is all DETAILS to me. I’m more interested in encouraging you to eat the whole egg and not be scared of the yolk.

Additionally, it’s worth buying higher-quality eggs laid by chickens that have had the chance to roam outside and eat bugs. These chickens are healthier, happier and provide MUCH more nutrition per egg than factory-farm eggs. In other words, they’re nutritionally superior (!)

Factory farm eggs are the product of birds that:

  • have never been outdoors in their life
  • are in brightly-lit rooms 24-7
  • live in overcrowded conditions that lead to disease
  • take antibiotics
  • have an unnatural diet

“Pastured” eggs are best.

(NOT to be confused with “pasteurized.”) Pastured means the chicken spent time in it’s natural environment, a green pasture.

…think about how certain measures are taken to control the diet of a breastfeeding mother since it can directly affect their baby …in the case of the animals’ food products that we eat, it is basically the same concept.
– Lisa Leake, 100 days of real food

If you can’t find pastured eggs, ORGANIC is your next best bet.

For the 10 years I was overweight: I ONLY ate the white of an egg.

Don’t be scared of the yolk! It’s packed with nutrients and natural fat that helps you lose weight naturally.

Canada’s Food Guide proposed update verdict:

Ignore this proposed Canada’s Food Guide updateMix up your Meat and Alternatives choices by eating whole eggs.

Substitute Polyunsaturated-rich vegetable oils for saturated-fats-laden dairy and meat fats

Canada’s Food Guide proposed update #9:

“Substitute Polyunsaturated-rich vegetable oils for saturated-fats-laden dairy and meat fats”

Substitute Polyunsaturated-rich vegetable oils for saturated-fats-laden dairy and meat fats

My healthy approach to eating fat that makes losing weight EASY:

First let’s translate this proposed update to Canada’s Food Guide. It means:

Choose fat that comes from more natural sources that are close to their natural state

When in doubt, always go for natural. For instance, I ALWAYS choose butter over a butter substitute like margarine.

Olive oil, coconut oil, goose fat, butter… These are all healthy choices.

Stay away from cooking oils like corn, soybean, canola, safflower and sunflower oils as much as possible.

The proposed updates continue with:

“Keep in mind that 3 tablespoons of oil adds nearly 400 calories to a diet and nearly everyone can survive on 1,500-2,500 calories per day (less for women), even if moderately active.”

I’m totally against calorie counting. If you focus on eating ROUGHLY balanced meals made MOSTLY of whole foods you’ll naturally eat what your body requires. Your body wants to be a healthy weight! So when you give your body the food it understands – whole foods – rather than processed foods (that confuse your body and keep you feeling hungry) then you’ll naturally reach and maintain a healthy weight.

Work WITH your body. Stay away from PROCESSED FOODS as much as you can.

For the 10 years I was overweight: I NEVER ate butter or oil of any sort. If I needed fat I’d use that fake PAM spray and use as little as possible. I did NOT understand that fat from a natural source, of course, is part of a balanced meal and helps you LOSE weight. Don’t be afraid to eat fat.

Canada’s Food Guide proposed update verdict:

Ignore this proposed Canada’s Food Guide updateChoose natural fats whenever you can.

The size of the coloured bars for fruits and vegetables and (whole) grains should be approximately 3 1/2 and 3 times larger

Canada’s Food Guide proposed update #10:

“The size of the coloured bars for fruits and vegetables and (whole) grains should be approximately 3 1/2 and 3 times larger, respectively, than the meat and dairy bars to more accurately portray the amounts to consume of those foods.”

The size of the coloured bars for fruits and vegetables and (whole) grains should be approximately 3 1/2 and 3 times larger

My healthy approach to understanding food guides that makes losing weight EASY:

This proposed update doesn’t go far enough. Canada’s Food Guide is still presented in an unnecessarily complicated way.

If you want a WHOLE country to get on board, Canada’s Food Guide has to be user-friendly. You don’t even need to be able to read to understand the Eatwell Guide.

Eatwell Guide - the10principles

The Eatwell Guide presents virtually THE SAME information as Canada’s Food Guide, but the Eatwell Guide makes it easy to see:

How MUCH
of each TYPE of food
makes a balanced meal

This information is MUCH easier to digest than listing the “Recommended Number of Food Guide Servings per Day” across a rainbow, divided by age and sex, that’s found on Canada’s Food Guide… not to mention all the measurements. There’s just too many numbers!

Healthy eating isn’t so exact.

I’m fed up with how complicated the diet industry and government bodies make the simple act of eating.

The Eatwell Guide helps you focus on eating good enough to reach and maintain a healthy weight naturally.

For the 10 years I was overweight: I worried about serving sizes, counted calories, read food labels, weighed myself and on and on… In other words, I made weight loss INCREDIBLY complicated.

19 years ago I let go of NUMBERS and turned my attention to eating a roughly balanced meal made mostly of whole foods. 19 years ago I naturally reached and have naturally maintained a healthy weight since. I can’t stress this enough. I lost weight by simplifying my approach.

Canada’s Food Guide proposed update verdict:

Ignore this proposed Canada’s Food Guide updateCheck out the UK’s Eatwell Guide to understand what a balanced meal looks like.

Make Today Count

make today count - the10principlesWhat small, healthy change will you make TODAY?

It could be eating homemade oven chips instead of boiled potatoes. Or choosing butter over fake fat. The possibilities are endless.

Don’t wait until tomorrow to get started.

Build healthy eating and exercise habits, a healthy weight will follow.

Canadian Food Guide Summary

Next Steps

Examining the proposed updates for Canada’s Food Guide teaches us that we don’t need to do anything CRAZY to lose weight! Accepting this truth can be the hardest part of getting started. To help you make the first step, I’d love to send you one of the best weight-loss strategies I learned—one that took me 10 years to figure out! Simply sign up for my newsletter (below) and I’ll send it to you today.

I’ve gone Ga Ga for Freddie Mercury after watching the movie Bohemian Rhapsody. When I first met Alex I didn’t know who Freddie was, which prompted his aunt to ask him “Why are you with her!?!” Anyways, Freddie’s performance at Live Aid is full of love, hope and the belief things can get better… I also can’t get enough of watching him move around the stage. You can’t help but tag along when someone’s having so much fun.

I chose the song “Hammer to Fall” because I stand behind all 10 points I’ve outlined in this post.

… What are your thoughts on the proposed updates to Canada’s Food Guide?

  Buy Now - It took me 10 years to lose 10 pounds

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Sharing what I learned makes those 10 years worth it

By |2019-01-13T19:15:04+00:00January 11th, 2019|Understand|6 Comments

About the Author:

Hi! I'm Kelly. I lost weight when I stopped dieting. And I got my life back. Here's more about my turning point and why I'm passionate about sharing what I learned.

6 Comments

  1. Carole January 11, 2019 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    Great article Kelly and I agree with all your comments. I add cannelloni beans/ kidney beans to cottage pie recipes to bulk up the fibre intake. As you pointed out, leaving the skins on potatoes, whichever way you cook fhem, increases your fibre intake. Over here (UK) we have to be aware that the fibre content is different in brown bread from that in whole grain bread. The latter is the one to opt for and if it has extra seeds in the recipe, all the better.
    With regard to oils, cold pressed rapeseed oil is a good option as is olive oil.

    • Kelly Clark January 11, 2019 at 3:07 pm - Reply

      Good point about brown bread Carole (and your other suggestions are great too). Lots of brown breads are made with malt (added sugar) for colour and are still refined. Whole grains are best! Like any change, just making small modifications helps you get used to the change. For instance… if you LOVE peeled potatoes start by leaving the skin on just a few and build from there.

  2. Louise January 11, 2019 at 7:25 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the great overview Kelly. I’d been hoping you would weigh in on these changes! And I’m another fan of the Eatwell Guide and its easy to understand approach.

    • Kelly Clark January 12, 2019 at 12:33 am - Reply

      Thanks Louise! It used to be called the Eatwell Plate which I thought was a nice, clear name. But then again the word “Guide” suggests flexibility which is important too. Thanks so much for your feedback and hope you’ve had a great start to 2019 🙂

  3. Marianne January 13, 2019 at 10:19 am - Reply

    very interesting reading about the the Canadian guide and your comments. I agree with most of you comments. A varied diet is all it takes and eating in moderation as well. Dish up on a breakfast plate instead of a dinner plate and it looks like you have a lot of food. It really works. I had to smile at the Marianne Potatoes, so thank you very much for mentioning those. I definitely feel “included”. Also making your own bread wholemeal means you know what is in it. Making it yourself mean s no additives.
    Thank you Kelly.xx

    • Kelly Clark January 13, 2019 at 7:11 pm - Reply

      Would LOVE to know your wholemeal bread recipe Marianne! It sounds good. Recently I’ve been going to my butchers at 6pm when all the bread is half price. They want to get rid of it and I get a deal (if I’m lucky enough to find any left!) It freezes really well too. A lot of butchers, bakeries, grocery stores, etc. have great offers on otherwise expensive “artisan” bread near closing time. Check out your local shop!

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Never Miss A Post Sharing what I learned makes those 10 years worth it.