How to teach Canada’s Food Guide

Food and Nutrition

Learn how to make Canada’s Food Guide meaningful to your students. This article includes grade-specific activities you can use in the classroom!

By DFC - PLC, Nutrition Team
Two plates side by side. Once has ingredients for a breakfast separated to mirror the CFG Plate. The second plate has a completed breakfast with toast, fruit salad, and a smoothie.

Our team is passionate about building developmentally appropriate resources and programs for your classroom. We are often asked, “How do I teach Canada’s Food Guide in my classroom?” As with any form of learning, effective nutrition education requires different approaches for different ages and stages of students. Therefore, you need to look at Canada’s Food Guide (CFG) and discover what, how and why it may be relevant for your learners at different times.

You may be familiar with the term “pacing learning,” where students learn at a pace that matches their ability and interest. So, what does this approach look like in practical terms when you are teaching CFG?

Nutrition education works well when students are given lots of time and opportunity to explore and practice. Keeping this in mind when considering CFG, start with hands-on food activities, then add gentle, well-timed reinforcement of nutrition concepts as outlined in the table below. We have broken down recommendations by grade division, reflecting age-appropriate learning goals. The learning is paced to occur where we see the most significant shifts in cognitive development, welcoming a new level of complexity in thought processes as students progress with their learning.


Grade Division

Pacing Learning for Teaching Canada’s Food Guide

Early Elementary

(Kindergarten – Grade 3)

  • Sort foods into basic categories based on colour, shape, texture and/or temperature.
    • Centre learning on food exploration and categorization of foods based on the senses.
    • Check out Felix the Farmera free exploratory program that both teachers and students enjoy.


Late Elementary

(Grades 4–6)

  • Sort foods into their categories: vegetables and fruits, whole grain foods, and protein foods.
    • Late elementary is a great time to introduce CFG Plate and begin teaching students about how all foods fit in.


Junior High

(Grades 7–9)

  • Connect the CFG Plate to food preferences when planning meals and snacks.
    • Translating food categorization into hands-on skill development works best for junior high students.
    • Grades 7–9 is a time when we can shift students’ mindsets to critically assess food and nutrition messages.


High School

(Grades 10–12)

  • Apply variety and balance while planning and preparing meals and snacks that meet personal nutrient needs using CFG as a tool.
    • High school students are ready to study abstract concepts such as the role of nutrients in the body and key nutrients in food categories.
    • Introducing more complex conversations about food systems will take learning to the next level.




For All Ages
Healthy eating
Canada's Food Guide