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Applying Canada's Dietary Guidelines

Dietary shifts people living in Canada can make for healthier eating

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
    • hypertension
    • 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.

Eat more 

Most people living in Canada would benefit from eating more vegetables and fruit, especially:

  • dark green vegetables such as
    • kale
    • spinach
    • broccoli
    • bok choy
    • green peas
    • Brussels sprouts

  • orange vegetables such as
    • carrots
    • pumpkin
    • 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:

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

In addition to replacing foods within the same types and limiting intakes of highly processed products, encourage people living in Canada to:

Resources to use with consumers