Canada’s Food Guide is a 2-page health document created to provide Canadians with a guide to healthy eating. The Food Guide not only gives an example of what a “healthy plate” looks like, but it also provides positive messages about living well that go beyond the food you eat.

Messages from Canada’s Food Guide

PAGE 1: Eat a Variety of Healthy Foods

The Healthy Plate on the Food Guide is divided into 3 sections:
½ Plate of Fruits & Vegetables,
¼ plate of Whole Grains,
¼ plate of Proteins.

Fruits and Vegetables – half your plate

Canada’s Food Guide recommends eating plenty of vegetables and fruit.

  • This includes fresh, frozen, and canned fruit and vegetables.
  • Aim for at least 1 orange and 1 dark leafy green vegetable each day. Each colour offers different nutrients, so be sure to eat vegetables of all colours.
  • If choosing canned vegetables, look for options that have no added salt.
  • If choosing canned fruit, look for options that have no added sugar/syrups, as fruit canned in its own juice or packed in water are healthier options. Some canned fruit packed in water have artificial sweeteners added. There has not been enough research done to determine its effect in youth under 18 years of age, so read labels to ensure canned options do not contain artificial sweeteners.
  • Frozen vegetables and fruit are nutritious options that can cost less when compared to fresh. Look for options with no added sugar and salt.

Whole Grains – one quarter of your plate

Canada’s Food Guide emphasizes choosing whole grains more often.

Examples of whole grains include:

  • Whole grain oats
  • Whole grain whole wheat
  • Quinoa
  • Bulgur
  • Amaranth
  • Millet

How do I identify products made with whole grains?

The best way to identify whole grains is to look at the ingredient list. If the product is made with whole grains, it will be listed as the first ingredient and must have the words “whole grain” in front of the advertised grain (i.e. oats ? whole grain oats).

Is your family not used to eating whole grain products?

Introduce them slowly and increase as you are able. For example, in a sandwich, make one slice the type of bread normally used and the second slice whole grain.

For more information, please read this article with Frequently Asked Questions on Choosing and Using Whole Grains by the Dietitians of Canada.

Protein – one quarter of your plate

Canada’s Food Guide recommends eating protein as a part of healthy eating.

There are many protein foods to choose from. Protein includes eggs, meats, milk & milk alternatives, nuts and seeds, and pulses like beans and lentils.

It is recommended to choose plant-based protein sources more often. Some examples of plant-based proteins include:

  • Beans and legumes (chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, navy beans, split pea, etc.)
  • Edamame (immature soybeans)
  • Tofu (bean curd)
  • Tempeh (made from fermented soybeans)
  • Nuts and nut butters

Is your family not used to eating plant-based proteins?

Start by making one meal a week meatless (i.e. meatless Mondays), or by mixing plant-based proteins into your meat recipes (add a can of pureed kidney beans into lean ground beef burgers).

For more information on Protein and making healthy protein choices, please read more from the Dieticians of Canada.

PAGE 2: Healthy eating is more than the foods you eat. It is also about where, when, why and how you eat.

These key messages are part of Canada’s Food Guide:

  • Be mindful of your eating habits. Take time to eat.
  • Cook more often. Learning to cook can help you prepare healthier meals.
  • Enjoy your food. Culture and traditions are part of healthy eating.
  • Eat meals with others. Share food traditions across generations and cultures.
  • Use food labels to understand what you are eating.
  • Limit foods high in sodium, sugars, and/or saturated fats.
  • Be aware of food marketing. Read labels to make knowledgeable food choices.

For more tips on healthy eating and delicious recipe ideas, please visit Canada’s Food Guide.

Read these articles next:
Cooking Basics
Healthy Eating Habits