Canadian Food is Changing: the evolution of the Canadian Food Guide

Canada’s Food Guide was born in 1942. At the time, its focus was on improving the health of Canadians and preventing nutritional deficiencies, while citizens were subject to wartime food rationing protocols. Since then, the food guide has transformed many times but its primary focus remains the same: helping Canadians stay on top of their health. 

The Canadian Food Guide comes up with their suggested intake through scientific and nutritional research, medical experts and welfare workers. The guide serves as a general outline for the average Canadian – but individual needs may vary. Its intention is to help foster conversations around healthy food intake and educate the general public on what constitutes a “healthy” diet. 

One of the biggest commitments towards Canadian Health was implemented by the FDA on January 1, 2017: all major foodservice chains are now required to post the calorie counts of food and drink items for sale. Initially, many Canadians were shocked by the numbers listed on their favourite foods and beverages, but once that wore off – restaurant owners found that it actually helped build trust between consumers and service providers. It also forced fast food providers to rethink the meals they provided. More and more healthy, low-calorie and low-fat meals started popping up on menus across the board. 

It’s been 12 years since the last revision of Canada’s Food Guide – and the contents of which have proved to be fairly controversial. It uses an actual plate instead of traditional “servings”, and talks about our relationship to food as opposed to simply regurgitating research. The official recommendation encourages:

New Canada Food Guide Image


  • Fruits and Vegetables (sweet potato, tomatoes, spinach, strawberries, apples, etc)
  • Protein Foods (nuts, beans, meat, fish, eggs)
  • Whole Grain Foods (pasta, rice, quinoa, bread)
  • Water as your drink of choice

The primary differences lie in emphasizing plant-based proteins – instead of always choosing plant-based foods. This is a significant departure from words like milk and meat, which many Canadians grew up with. It’s important to note that Canada’s Food Guide does not discredit meat and dairy industries, but instead opens “healthy” to include plant-based diets. 


CFG also moved away from whole grain foods, instead of refined – and sugar such as juice or pop. Historically, sugary beverages have been the number one source of sugar in Canadian diets – and Canadians have paid the price. In 2017, the Public Health Agency of Canada reported 64% of Canadians over 18 are statistically obese. Compare that to 2002 – 15 years earlier, when that number fell much lower at only 15%.

Food production industries will likely feel the impact of these changes to Canada’s Food Guide in the coming years, leading behemoths like dairy, meat and refined grains to rethink the ways they produce and market their food products in the future. 

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