The new Food Guide: How to adapt to it

Canada's Food Guide 10 min

Tips to help teaching staff members talk about the new Canada’s Food Guide with students.

By DFC - PLC, Nutrition Team
Overhead shot of booklet and pencil surrounded with fruits, oats and yogourt
Booklet with pencil and healthy foods


  • Changes and new additions
  • How to interpret it
  • How to plan your educational activities

The new Food Guide: How will it affect your activities about healthy eating?

In January 2019, Health Canada published a new Canada’s Food Guide to replace the one from 2007. How will this change affect the activities you do with your students? Discover the highlights of the new Guide and explore ideas for integrating it into your teaching practice.


  • Serving numbers and sizes have been replaced by listening to your hunger and fullness signals. This is great news since we have known for some time that these signals are the best way to know if you have eaten enough. So, let's trust children and let them determine how much they want to eat!
  • Foods are now grouped into three categories (previously there were four food groups):
    • Vegetables and fruits
    • Whole grain foods (grain products made with whole grains)
    • Protein foods (a combination of the Milk and Alternatives and Meat and Alternatives groups)
  • The look has changed: the rainbow has been replaced by a plate that illustrates the proportion of each food category.
Assiette du Guide alimentaire canadien 2019

New additions

The Guide now also discusses how to eat: people are encouraged to enjoy their food, take the time to eat meals with family or friends, and cook with whole foods. In short, the context in which food is consumed is just as important as the food itself!

Cuisinez plus souvent - Guide alimentaire canadien

How to interpret it

According to the new Guide, healthy eating should not be complicated. Here is a summary of the overarching principles:

  • People are encouraged to eat more fresh, frozen or canned fruits and vegetables, with a focus on variety to take advantage of all the vitamins and minerals they contain. They should be eaten at every meal and regularly as snacks.
  • Opt for whole grain foods.
  • Always be sure to have one or more protein foods at every meal and even at snack time because they provide energy for a longer period of time, which makes you less hungry between meals.

Although protein foods have nutrients in common, they each have their own unique value, such as iron in meat, calcium in dairy products, omega-3 in fish and fibre in legumes. Variety is the key to success!

Display of a variety of foods
Variety of foods

How to plan your educational activities

The nutritional value of a food or its alleged powers are not effective arguments for getting children to adopt healthy eating habits. Children choose and like foods first and foremost for their taste and based on their experiences with them. If you want your activities to have a real impact on children, they must be concrete and based on having fun.

That’s why it is best to avoid categorizing foods based on their nutrients or nutrient value—an abstract and sometimes moralistic concept. Instead, create fun, positive experiences related to students’ daily lives.

A few examples of activities include:

  • Make snack time educational! Have each student describe their snack based on the five senses: the texture of the food in their hands and in their mouth, its appearance, smell, taste and even the sound it makes when eaten. They could also talk about their favourite snacks and give each other ideas to take home.
  • Using pictures of nutritious foods, have fun grouping foods based on the following criteria:
    • Shape
    • Colour
    • Texture (e.g., crunchy, soft, rubbery)
    • Flavour (e.g., sweet, salty, sour, bitter)
    • Where it comes from (e.g., tree, plant, ground, animal)
    • Class preferences, obtained by survey
  • Do simple cooking activities that will give kids ideas for their snacks and lunches:
    • Sampling vegetables and fruits with “sweet” or “salty” dips made with plain yogurt.
    • Making nutritious snacks or desserts: for instance, each student can make their own with plain yogurt, sauce and cut or frozen fruit!

For more ideas, visit the Educational Resources section of our website and choose your grade level. You'll find videos, nursery rhymes, online games, quick activities, cooking activities and more—all free!


Multi level
Canada's Food Guide
Healthy eating