It’s no secret that Canada’s Food Guide, which was revamped in January 2019, has had a serious upgrade. They’ve done away with the many complex serving sizes and nutrient values of the old guide and opted for a visual approach to help simplify healthy meal planning.
Our fave part of the new guide? It’s calling Canadians to eat more plant-based meals and fewer processed foods, a change that has serious health benefits. Sue Mah, a registered dietitian in Toronto, agrees: “Choosing plant-based foods and proteins, such as beans, nuts, seeds, and tofu, can help boost our fibre intakes and lower our intake of saturated fat which benefits our heart health.”
And now that we’ve been living with it for a few months, we wanted her expert POV on how to really optimize the new guide. Here are her tips to make guide-approved eating simple as (plant-based) pie.
Keep Variety in Mind
When switching to a more plant-based diet, make sure you’ve covered all your (nutrient) bases. “Animal-based proteins offer a different mix of essential nutrients, such as vitamin B12 (only found in animal-based foods), heme iron (more easily absorbed from plant foods than non-heme iron), choline and zinc,” says Mah. If you’re cutting out animal foods altogether, supplement accordingly.
Keep It Clean
For veggies, eat the rainbow. “Choose colourful fruits and veggies that offer a range of nutrients,” says Mah. For grains, go with whole. “Choose whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, farro and oats.” Make sure any pasta, bread and cereal is whole grains, too. And don’t forget about protein. “Choose foods like eggs that serve as a great vehicle for incorporating more veggies and grains into your diet.” Mah recommends a broccoli quiche or an egg-topped grain bowl.
Start by trying out a few meatless meals each week. “One of my favourites is pad thai. I make it with tofu, eggs and plenty of red peppers, onions and bean sprouts.”
Next, learn about the new amazing vegetarian restaurants in Toronto.