Canada's first food guide, the Official Food Rules, was developed in 1942 to encourage adequate nutrition for Canadians, which was instigated by the necessity to ration food during World War II. These rules were revised several times between 1942 and 1961 to address changing social circumstances.
The Canadian Council on Nutrition was first appointed in 1938, and it worked on the food guidelines until 1969. The group comprised a variety of health and nutrition scientists and other specialists. These experts approved food guides and developed Canadian dietary standards. The intent of the guides until 1949 was to improve the health of Canadians by increasing knowledge of nutritional needs in the context of poverty and international food shortages. The importance of limiting excessive food was first mentioned in the 1949 guide and moderation has remained a key focus ever since. The Food Guide has been revised approximately each decade since the 1960s.
The most recent guide continues to emphasize moderation in food intake and the importance of balancing food with exercise for Canadians of all ages. Another focal point of the modern Food Guide is the emphasis on the overall diet; through the 1970s the food guides only described the minimum nutritional requirements for individuals. Currently the serving ranges of different food groups reflect the dietary needs of a broad population base, from young children through to adults over age 50. A specific guide for Indigenous Canadians has also been developed that includes recommendations for traditional and non-traditional foods.
Because nutritional requirements are highly dependent upon individual characteristics (eg, weight, sex, age, activity levels, etc), the guide provides a wide range of servings for each of the food groups to ensure the nutritional requirements of all Canadians can be achieved. The guide recommends that the following should be chosen every day from each of the 4 food groups: milk products (children 2-3 servings, adolescents 3-4 servings, adults 2-4 servings), grain products (6-8 servings), vegetables and fruit (7-10 servings) and meat and alternatives (2-3 servings). Making the appropriate number of choices from each of the 4 food groups will help Canadians obtain the nutrients they require for optimal health.
The central principle of Canada's Food Guide is variety. This is because each food group offers its own particular pattern of key nutrient strengths, but no single food or food group can supply all the nutrients needed. Some people, however, because of allergies or digestive problems, budget limitations, calorie requirements, food availability, personal preferences and dislikes, or philosophical or religious beliefs, may not eat a food or foods within a food group. The guide is sufficiently flexible to accommodate these factors.
Not all foods are included in Canada's Food Guide (eg, candy, pop, alcohol, coffee, butter, margarine, salad dressing, snack foods, etc). These foods may add taste and enjoyment to our diet and can be included as part of a healthy diet. However, they tend to be higher in fat and lower in nutritive value and according to the Guide should be chosen in moderation.
Author M.T. CLANDININ Revised: PATRICIA BAILEY
Links to Other Sites
Fast Food Options - Tips for Making Healthy Choices
This website is designed to help you check out your food choices, activity patterns, and healthy weight. From dieticians.ca.
Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating
Check out the online Health Canada Food Guide for helpful tips on selecting nutritious food options and developing healthy lifestyles.
Breakfast sandwiches constrict blood flow within hours of eating
A news story about the ill effects of fast food breakfast meals. From thestar.com.
Canadian Culinary Federation
See what’s cooking at the CCFCC, Canada’s largest professional association of culinarians. Many tantalizing tidbits of information about the Canadian Culinary Institute, Culinary Team Canada, career opportunities, and even a few gourmet recipes.
Canadian Institute of Child Health
CICH is a national charitable organization dedicated to improving the health of children and youth in Canada. Check out the informative CICH Communiqués and other resources about children’s health.
Centre for Indigenous Peoples' Nutrition and Environment
This interdisciplinary research program at McGill University probes the nutritional and cultural values of traditional food sources and diets.
Meat Cuts Manual
Your illustrated guide to well dressed beef, poultry and other animal products. From the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
See colourful online articles about farm to fork food safety issues of concern to consumers. From "Food Quality", a US magazine.
Glossary: Health and Nutrition
A glossary of terms related to health and nutrition. From the "EatRight Ontario" website.
Is there too much salt in food?
A news article about the amount of salt contained in processed food consumed by Canadians. From healthzone.ca.
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