A healthy eating pattern ensures that what we eat and drink on a regular basis meets our nutritional needs, maintains our health and helps us to feel good.
The new Canada Food Guide emphasizes healthy eating patterns as a healthy habit for us to practice. It focuses on plant-based foods and encourages people to follow the healthy eating pattern depicted in this picture in which half your plate is filled with fruit or veggies, one quarter is whole grain foods and one quarter is protein, with an emphasis on choosing plant-based proteins more often.
Eating plant-based foods regularly can help you consume more fibre and less saturated fat. This can have a positive effect on our health, including a lowered risk of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
While we don’t always plate our meals in the way depicted above – think about the content and balance of the foods you eat each day. To help you build a healthy eating pattern:
Try making vegetables and fruits half of your meal at most meal times. Choose different textures, colours and shapes to fit your taste. From apples to zucchini, choose plenty of vegetables and fruits. Fresh, frozen or canned vegetables and fruits can all be healthy options. Frozen and canned vegetables and fruits are just as nutritious as fresh vegetables and fruits
Choose whole grains like quinoa, whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, and whole grain rice more often than refined grains. Whole grains add fibre to your diet. Look for whole grain ingredients like whole grain wheat or whole grain oats on food labels. Whole grains should make up one quarter of your diet.
Choose protein foods that come from plants more often. Protein foods, including plant-based protein foods, are an important part of healthy eating. Include plant based protein foods such as beans, lentils, tofu, nuts, seeds, in addition to lean meats and poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, lower fat milk and lower fat dairy products. Protein foods should also account for one quarter of your daily meals.
Limit highly processed foods. Highly processed foods are not part of a healthy eating pattern because they contain a lot of salt, sugar or saturated fats. Processed foods include store bought baked goods, store bought pizza, hot dogs, chocolate bars, potato chips and soda pop.