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The NEW Canada’s Food Guide is here!

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Today, Federal Minister of Health, Ginette Petitapas Taylor launched the new Canada’s Food Guide. The new Food Guide takes a modern approach to communicating guidance to consumers, health professionals and policy makers. This first suite of resources includes a document Canada’s Dietary Guidelines for Health Professionals and Policy Makers, as well as a Food Guide Snapshot.

Here’s just a sampling of what’s new in the Food Guide:

1. Positive key messages for Canadians in a modern format. Key messages are: Eat well. Live well. Eat a variety of healthy foods each day. The new Food Guide delivers healthy eating information in a mobile-friendly web application.

2. Beyond food. Healthy eating is more than the foods you eat. The new Food Guide offers advice on what to eat, what not to eat, and how to eat. Tips include cooking more often, eating meals with others, being mindful of your eating habits, enjoying your food, limiting foods high in sodium, sugars or saturated fat, using food labels, and being aware of food marketing.

3. Food groupings instead of food groups. Bye bye rainbow and the four food groups. A healthy meal is comprised of a variety of foods from three key food groupings: vegetables and fruit; whole grains; and protein foods. These foods should be consumed regularly.

4. Proportions not portions. There are no recommended servings to eat or serving sizes of food. A plate snapshot of the Food Guide gives at-a-glance information on what to eat. In the plate snapshot, 1/2 the plate is filled with vegetables and fruits; ¼ of the plate is comprised of whole grains; and ¼ of the plate is made up of protein foods.

5. Water is the beverage of choice. To help Canadians stay hydrated without adding calories to the diet, water is recommended. Alcoholic beverages are also flagged as potentially adding calories with little to no nutritive value.

The suite of online resources replaces the old “all-in-one” version of the previous Food Guides. More information and recipes are available from Health Canada. Additional consumer resources are expected to be released later this year.

Read about my chat with Canada’s Minister of Health, Ginette Petitpas Taylor about the new Food Guide.

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Dietitians are experts in translating the science of nutrition into practical healthy living messages for Canadians. Contact me for more a presentation or workshop about the new Canada’s Food Guide.

Written by: Sue Mah, MHSc, RD, PHEc – Founder & President, Nutrition Solutions Inc.

5 Nutrition Myths – Busted!

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Test your nutrition IQ with this fun 5-question quiz!

Watch my interview clip on CTV Your Morning!


1) TRUE or FALSE: Brown eggs are more nutritious than white eggs.

Answer: FALSE

There really is no nutritional difference between brown eggs and white eggs. The main difference is in the hens. Generally speaking, white eggs come from hens with white feathers, and brown eggs come from hens with brown feathers!

Brown hens are slightly larger birds and need more food, so that may be a reason why brown eggs usually cost more than white eggs.


2) TRUE or FALSE: You need to drink 8 cups of water every day.

Answer: FALSE

Actually, it’s recommended that women get 9 cups of FLUID every day and men get 12 cups of FLUID every day. If you’re exercising, or if the weather is hot and humid, you may even need more fluid.

Fluid comes from the food you eat and the beverages that you drink – so milk, soup, coffee, tea, watermelon, grapes – all of that counts towards your fluid intake for the day. So the actual amount of water you need really depends on what you’re eating and drinking.

Water is always an excellent choice because it’s calorie-free and very refreshing. And here’s the best tip – take a look at your urine. If it’s light or clear, then it usually means that you’re getting enough fluids. But if it’s dark yellow, then it’s a sign of dehydration and you need more fluids.


3) TRUE or FALSE: Sea salt has the same amount of sodium as table salt.

Answer: TRUE

By weight, sea salt and table salt have the same amount of sodium. By volume though, sea salt does contain a little less sodium because sea salt crystals are larger.

The biggest differences between sea salt and table salt are: taste, texture and source.
Sea salt is made by evaporating seawater and tastes different depending on where it’s from. Sea salt does contain very small amounts of trace minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium.

Table salt is mined from dried-up ancient salt lakes. Some table salts include iodine, a nutrient that helps prevent thyroid disease (goiter).

4) TRUE or FALSE: Drinking lemon water first thing in the morning is a good way to detox your body.

Answer: FALSE

There is nothing magical about lemon water. Drinking lemon water in the morning actually adds extra acid into your empty stomach and this can give you a stomachache.
Another problem with lemon water is that the acid from the lemon can erode / wear down your tooth enamel. If you really love to drink lemon water, try to have a plain glass of water afterwards, and wait at least 15 minutes before brushing your teeth.

5) TRUE or FALSE: Energy drinks give you energy.

Answer: TRUE

Energy can mean calories. A bottle of energy drink can have about 100 calories, so in that sense, yes, you’re getting energy!

Energy can also mean physical energy. Energy drinks typically contain caffeine which is a stimulant. One cup of an average energy drink has almost as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. So in that sense, energy drinks will make you feel energized and alert.

The problem is that energy drinks also contain added sugar – up to 7 teaspoons in a serving- yikes! And there’s also herbal ingredients. Energy drinks are a no-no for kids, teens and pregnant/breastfeeding women.

What’s the best way to feel energized? Eat well, be active, stay hydrated and get enough sleep!

10 Ways to Eat Better for the Planet

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April 22 is Earth Day! Here are 10 easy ways to eat better for the planet – today and every day!

1. Make a no-cook meal
. Try a yogurt parfait with granola and fruit on top. Pack a peanut butter sandwich for lunch. For dinner, how about a leafy green salad with grated carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes and canned fish (dig out that manual can opener from the bottom of your drawer instead of using an electric one).
2. Join the Meatless Monday movement. More energy is typically needed to produce meat compared to grains, legumes, fruit and veggies. Try a meatless meal at least once a week. This year is International Year of Pulses so search up some amazing recipes using beans, chickpeas and lentils!
3. Steam your food. You’ll conserve water by steaming rather than boiling. And here’s the nutritional bonus: steamed veggies stay tender crisp and very little vitamins and minerals are lost in the cooking water.
4. Multi-purpose your water. Every morning, I warm up the kids’ thermoses with hot water as I make their lunches. Instead of dumping all that water down the drain, I use it to make a nice pot of green tea. What to do with extra water in your kettle? Cook with it. Wash your fruits and veggies with it. Pour it into a pitcher and refrigerate it – now you don’t have to run the tap when you want a glass of cold water!
5. Reduce food waste. The food that we toss out can end up in landfills where it decomposes and produces methane gas, contributing to climate change and global warming. So buy only what you need. Store food properly, use leftovers creatively and freeze any extra food. Use all parts of the animal and vegetable whenever possible. My dad makes an incredible soup with pig’s feet! One of my all time favourite veggies is beets because I can use practically everything from root to leaf!
6. BYOC. Bring your own containers. If you’re ordering take-out, bring your own food containers. Who knows, maybe the restaurant will even give you a slight discount for doing so.
7. Buy from the bulk store. It will help you buy only what you need. Plus it cuts down on all that unnecessary food packaging. Ask the store if you can bring in your own containers too so that you don’t have to use as many plastic bags.
8. Reduce your “cookprint”. Your cookprint is the amount of energy that’s needed to prepare and cook your meals. Speed up your cooking time and dial down your energy use by keeping the lids on pots. Use smaller, energy efficient appliances like a toaster oven, pressure cooker or crockpot.
9. Be a locavore. Eat locally grown food whenever you can because it helps reduce the transportation and carbon footprint from farm to plate. Build on this idea and think about your own transportation when buying groceries. If possible, leave the car at home. Walk, cycle or take transit to get your groceries.
10. Grow your own. Gardening season is right around the corner. Get outside, dig into the soil, and get planting! On my list this year are cherry tomatoes, carrots, herbs and you guessed it – beets! You’ll love the taste of home grown produce and Mother Earth will thank you for it too!

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