Dietary shifts are changes that people can make in their food choices.
Healthy eating requires that nutritious foods be available and accessible. Certain populations are at increased risk for poor dietary intakes. Understanding, and acting on the barriers that make it challenging for people living in Canada to make healthy food choices, are essential for the successful implementation of dietary guidelines.
The recommended shifts outlined here will help to:
- support growth and development throughout childhood and adolescence, and maintain nutritional health in adulthood
- reduce risks of developing chronic diseases, such as
- certain cancers
- type 2 diabetes
- cardiovascular disease
- reduce consumption of sodium, free sugars and saturated fat
- obtain vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre from nutritious foods
Advising people living in Canada on these dietary shifts can help them choose foods that align with recommendations in Canada’s Dietary Guidelines and improve dietary intakes of important nutrients.
Though less healthy choices will be made at times, what matters most is what people consume on a regular basis.
Encourage people living in Canada to eat more of, replace and limit these foods
A dietary shift can mean eating more of certain foods, replacing current food choices with nutritious foods recommended in Canada’s Dietary Guidelines, or limiting consumption of certain foods.
Dietary shifts can be made while respecting cultures and food traditions, which are an important part of healthy eating. The consumption of traditional food among Indigenous Peoples, even in limited amounts, has been shown to improve diet quality. These foods, and the way they are obtained, are intrinsically linked to culture, identity, way of life, and thus, overall health.
Most people living in Canada would benefit from eating more vegetables and fruit, especially:
- dark green vegetables such as
- bok choy
- green peas
- Brussels sprouts
- orange vegetables such as
- sweet potato
- red and orange peppers
- butternut and hubbard squash
These foods can be fresh, frozen or canned. Dried fruit can be a part of healthy eating, but it can stick to teeth and cause cavities. If dried fruit is chosen, encourage consumption with meals.
In addition, encourage the selection of vegetables and fruit that have little to no added sodium and saturated fat, and little to no free sugars.
Most people living in Canada would benefit from replacing foods within the same types. Encourage choosing:
- whole grains such as brown or wild rice, and whole grain foods, such as whole grain breads and crackers
- instead of refined grains, such as white rice, and refined grain foods, such as white breads and white bread products like bagels, flatbreads and rolls
- lower fat unsweetened yogurt, milk and plant-based beverages, such as fortified soy, oat and almond beverages, and cheeses lower in fat and sodium
- instead of higher fat sweetened yogurt, milk and plant-based beverages and cheeses higher in fat and sodium
- lean red meat including wild game, skinless poultry, eggs, fish and shellfish
- instead of choices higher in saturated fat, like regular ground beef, pork ribs and rib eye steak, and poultry with skin and visible fat
Most people living in Canada would also benefit from replacing some of the animal-based protein foods in their diets with plant-based protein foods, such as legumes, tofu, nuts and seeds.
Reducing the consumption of highly processed products can help people living in Canada lower their intakes of sodium, free sugars or saturated fat. Some top sources of these nutrients include:
- salty snacks
- sugary drinks
- bakery products
- processed meats and poultry
- sugars, syrups and preserves
- sauces, dressings, dips, gravies and condiments
- desserts (including frozen desserts) and confectionaries
- choose foods that contain mostly unsaturated fat, such as fatty fish, nuts, seeds, many vegetable oils and soft margarine
- select and prepare foods with little to no added sodium and saturated fat, and little to no free sugars
- use the food label to make informed food choices
Resources to use with consumers
- Healthy fats
- Protein foods
- Whole grain foods
- Vegetables and fruits
- Understanding food labels
- Healthy eating on a budget
- Limit highly processed foods
- Improving your eating habits
- Make it a habit to eat vegetables, fruits, whole grains and protein foods