Canada's Food Guide

Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide provides direction on the type and amount of food we should eat for overall health. This healthy eating pattern helps us meet our requirements for vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, and also helps reduce our risk for many chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and obesity, and heart disease.

By choosing a variety of foods from the four food groups (Vegetables and Fruit, Grain Products, Milk and Alternatives and Meat and Alternatives) and following the recommendations to choose foods lower in fat, sugar and salt, you can add to your overall health and vitality.

Main features of a healthy eating pattern:

  • Follow the recommendations in Canada’s Food Guide for the type and amount of food to consume each day.
  • Eat more vegetables and fruit.
  • Choose whole grains versus refined grains more often.
  • Choose fish* and meat alternatives such as beans, lentils and tofu more often.
  • Drink skim, 1% or 2% milk each day.
  • Within each food group, choose foods that are lower in fat, sugar and salt.
  • Include a small amount (30 – 45 mL) of unsaturated fat, such as oil, salad dressing, soft margarine or mayonnaise each day.
  • Limit your intake of :
    • saturated fats from fatty meats, butter, lard, shortening and hard margarine
    • sugar from desserts and soft drinks
    • foods and beverages high in calories, fat, sugar or salt
  • Avoid foods with trans fats.

* CFG recommends two food guide servings of fish each week. See Health Canada’s advice on limiting certain types of fish

Why are these recommendations important?

Foods from each of the four food groups provide us with a combination of nutrients that make up a healthy eating pattern. By eating a variety of foods from each of the food groups you’re more likely to get all of the nutrients you need, and by limiting your intake of fat, sugar and salt, our eating pattern will be healthier.

Which foods and how much should we eat?

The recommended number of Food Guide Servings is an average amount that we should try to eat each day. The numbers vary for each age group and for males and females, because energy and nutrient needs differ through different stages of life.

Recommended number of Food Guide Servings per Day

 

Children
Teens
Adults
2-3
4-8
9-13
14 – 18 years
19-50 years
51+ years

Girls and Boys

Females

Males

Females

Males

Females

Males

Vegetables and Fruit

4

5

6

7

8

7-8

8-10

7

7

Grain Products

3

4

6

6

7

6-7

8

6

7

Milk and Alternatives

2

2

3-4

3-4

3-4

2

2

3

3

Meat and Alternatives

1

1

1-2

2

3

2

3

2

3

 

Health Check: Help in the grocery aisle and when eating out

Life is busy, and we sometimes rely on pre-packaged foods and beverages to help meet our food group requirements. But shopping for healthy options can be confusing and time-consuming. Health Check helps you identify healthy food choices within each food category. In addition, Health Check can also help you make healthy food choices in restaurants by identifying healthy items on menus.

The Health Check symbol can be found on thousands of products in almost every food category in the grocery store. To earn the Health Check symbol, products must meet specific nutrient criteria developed by the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s registered dietitians, based on recommendations in Canada’s Food Guide.

Each food category in the Health Check program has its own set of nutrient criteria. Depending on the particular food category to which it belongs, a Health Check product must meet specific criteria for nutrients we need more of such as fibre, protein, vitamin and mineral; and for nutrients we need to limit such as fat, trans fats, sodium and sugar.

For example, for bread (serving size of 50 grams or 1 – 2 slices) to carry the Health Check logo the following nutrients are evaluated: fibre, fat (including total fat, and saturated and trans fats), and sodium.

For more information on Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide see www.healthcanada.gc.ca/foodguide.

The Four Food Groups Each food group in Canada’s Food Guide is unique!

Each group contributes a set of key nutrients important for health, which is why including all four food groups is necessary for a healthy eating pattern. Within each food group there are good choices and better choices – that’s why variety is so important. Let’s look at each Food Group in more detail.