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By now you may have read a little or a lot about the new Canada’s Food Guide. The most noticeable changes are the removal of the antiquated “4 Food Groups” and more emphasis on healthy eating behaviours. The new Guide provides us with the opportunity to re-evaluate our daily eating habits and see where we can make healthier choices.

It encourages Canadians to focus on the quality of the food we eat versus the quantity. It challenges us to consider the what and why of our eating habits and to be more connected to our food. Provided below are some key findings and suggestions on how to implement the changes into our lives.

Here’s the rundown:

1. Cook More Often: We are thrilled to see this new suggested lifestyle change!  Learning to cook is such an important skill and it’s best to start when children are young. Invest in your child’s culinary education with hands-on instruction at home or find a cooking school for kids that specializes in teaching children, such as Rooks to Cooks. By learning how to cook, your child will gain valuable life skills that will help them become more self-sufficient and independent. In addition, when children are part of the cooking process, they become more open-minded to trying new foods and flavours and more invested in making healthy eating decisions for themselves. We believe there is no better healthy eating strategy than getting your children in the kitchen.

2. Mindful / Conscious Eating: Stress shuts down our digestion so take steps, like deep breathing, to help reduce stress around mealtime.  Also, it's crucial to eat slowly and chew your food well. Chewing is the first step in digestion and the one you have the most control over. Chew, chew, chew your food and remember that you aren’t what you eat, rather what you digest and absorb.

3. Have plenty of vegetables and fruits. YES! They are rich in vitamins and minerals, as well as, fibre and various plant nutrients.

  • Vegetables: The old Guide specifically recommended dark green and orange vegetables and we think they should remain a focus. The new Guide has references to salad greens, carrots and squash and these are great suggestions. Leafy greens, in particular, are a great plant sources of folate and magnesium. Orange vegetables are a source of beta carotene.
  • Fruits: Try to focus more on lower glycemic fruits, such as apples, pears, oranges, grapefruit, dried apricots. Remember to brush your teeth whenever possible after eating fruit or high sugar/acid foods.

4. Choose Whole Grain Foods. Check the ingredients list on your foods and look for the words "whole grain". We like the new Guide’s focus on the difference between whole grains and grain products, however, industry influence (Wheat Board) is still there with the vague justification around misleading food labels “whole wheat bread.” A grain is not whole once it’s been milled. A stronger focus on the whole food versus the food product is still needed.

5. Eat Protein Foods. Definitely good to see the new Guide’s emphasis on getting protein from fish and eggs, as well as, plant-based sources (lentils, beans, nuts and seeds), rather than always selecting animal-based sources.

6. Make Water your drink of choice! We applaud the focus on water. It is such an essential nutrient for our bodies. Our holistic tips: Drinking excessive amounts of fluids with meals can dilute stomach acid required for proper digestion. Focus on hydrating early in the day and between meals if possible.

7. Limit Processed Foods: The focus on whole foods, especially vegetables and fruits, is great! Try your best to replace processed foods with healthier options. Read your food labels and select foods with low or no added sodium, sugar or saturated fat. The new Guide could use more education on quality of Fats and Oils though. Perhaps some Industry influence in the Guide with the inclusion of soybean and canola oil – widely produced crops in Canada. Our holistic tips: Aim for cold pressed, 100% Olive Oil vs “Olive Oil”. Focus on whole food sources of healthy fats, like raw, unsalted nuts and seeds, avocadoes, coconut. These foods are also good sources of fiber and protein, whereas oils are not.

We love the new design of the Food Guide showing real food on a place vs. an illustrated rainbow. We find this easier to understand which gives us hope that if will be easier to implement for parents and children. We recommend that you start with small steps and incorporate changes that are manageable for you and your family. Although nutrition is HIGHLY dependent on one’s lifestyle and we consider this a guide, not a rule book, we believe this a great start and a very welcome change.


About Chef Shai & Rooks to Cooks: Inspired by her passion for food and education, chef and teacher Shai Mandel founded Rooks to Cooks with the goal of teaching kids cooking, life skills, and important lessons they can use both in and out of the kitchen. Chef Shai’s student-centered camps, classes and workshops emphasize empowerment, healthy eating, and fun.

To learn more about Rooks to Cooks Summer Cooking Camps visit:

Contact info: Chef Shai Mandel | 833-243-3862 |