Tonight, I went through the updated version of Canada's Food Guide.
I sat in my little apartment at my multi-use kitchen counter/dining table/desk. I was finishing up a pre-prepped mason jar full of beans, lentils, peppers, leafy greens and balsamic vinegar, clicking through the new federal website, reading the new government guidelines and watching videos of politicians speak on the changes. After 20 minutes of review, I already liked where it was heading.
At this point, I was ready to eat part two of my meal: some ground beef from a trusted local farm with a side of brussel sprouts, chopped onions and mushrooms that I had selected from the market three days prior.
So, while I've put in less than an hour's research into an update that took years to make, this is my top III favourites, so far:
More vitamins. More minerals. More fibre. More antioxidants. More satiation. More health.
Eliminate meat? Not necessarily.
Zero carb? Definitely not.
A colourful meal focused on real, whole foods? Absolutely.
It's about proportions, not portions.
There are very few nutrition questions that can't be answered with "well...it depends."
So when someone asks me how much they should be eating of x, y, or z, my answer is....you guessed it: "well... it depends."
We all have individual needs based on our biochemical makeup, health conditions, activity levels and lifestyles. Throw in our own personal goals and values and shit gets a little crazier. However, generally speaking, if our nutrition is not focused on a specific health requirement, condition or crisis, or if we aren't looking to be elite athletes or performers in some regard, then we can stick to proportions, not specific portions.
With that being said, I would still recommend getting a general understanding of what "enough" looks like by researching yourself or talking to a knowledgable source, or better yet, both. Often times with busy lifestyles, we don't give ourselves time to eat, or we go for the quick, processed food, and are therefore overfed and/or undernourished. For most of us, paying attention to quality proportions provides more sanity - and most of the time, it provides more health.
It takes into account habits around food, not just the food itself.
I often talk to people who just can't seem to figure out what a healthy relationship with food should look like (not to worry, I've been there once or twice myself...plus once or twice more.) To some extent, I believe we've forgotten how to eat and what food can, and should be, meant for. Most of us were raised with a fast-food joint nearby, with "food-like products" filling the shelves, and with marketing messages about calories, fat and the ideal shape of our bodies echoing in our ears. So, maybe we never forgot; and maybe we just never learned.
The updated guide recommends preparing food more often at home, being mindful throughout a meal and sharing the experience with company. Ditto.
In the end, I personally believe food should be about nourishing to fuel your body and your goals, to align with your values, to connect with family and friends, and ultimately, to enjoy.
To me, food and nutrition plays a critical role in creating a better future for all. 1. The health of your body affects the health of your offspring, even before the process even truly begins.
2. The habits you prioritize plays a key role in your child's learned behaviours, and what they will prioritize down the road.
3. The businesses you support is a vote for what you want now, but also for what you want for the future; nutritionally, environmentally, economically.
Thankfully, I believe Health Canada has done just that: taken a major step towards a healthier Canada.