Resources for health professionals and policy makers

Canada’s Dietary Guidelines

Appendix B: Summary of guidelines and considerations

Guideline 1

Nutritious foods are the foundation for healthy eating.

  • Vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and protein foods should be consumed regularly. Among protein foods, consume plant-based more often.
    • Protein foods include legumes, nuts, seeds, tofu, fortified soy beverage, fish, shellfish, eggs, poultry, lean red meat including wild game, lower fat milk, lower fat yogurts, lower fat kefir, and cheeses lower in fat and sodium.
  • Foods that contain mostly unsaturated fat should replace foods that contain mostly saturated fat.
  • Water should be the beverage of choice.


  • Nutritious foods to encourage
    • Nutritious foods to consume regularly can be fresh, frozen, canned, or dried.
  • Cultural preferences and food traditions
    • Nutritious foods can reflect cultural preferences and food traditions.
    • Eating with others can bring enjoyment to healthy eating and can foster connections between generations and cultures.
    • Traditional food improves diet quality among Indigenous Peoples.
  • Energy balance
    • Energy needs are individual and depend on a number of factors, including levels of physical activity.
    • Some fad diets can be restrictive and pose nutritional risks.
  • Environmental impact
    • Food choices can have an impact on the environment.

Guideline 2

Processed or prepared foods and beverages that contribute to excess sodium, free sugars, or saturated fat undermine healthy eating and should not be consumed regularly.


  • Sugary drinks, confectioneries and sugar substitutes
    • Sugary drinks and confectionaries should not be consumed regularly. 
    • Sugar substitutes do not need to be consumed to reduce the intake of free sugars.
  • Publically funded institutions
    • Foods and beverages offered in publically funded institutions should align with Canada’s Dietary Guidelines.
  • Alcohol
    • There are health risks associated with alcohol consumption.

Guideline 3

Food skills are needed to navigate the complex food environment and support healthy eating.

  • Cooking and food preparation using nutritious foods should be promoted as a practical way to support healthy eating.
  • Food labels should be promoted as a tool to help Canadians make informed food choices.


  • Food skills and food literacy
    • Food skills are important life skills.
    • Food literacy includes food skills and the broader environmental context.
    • Cultural food practices should be celebrated.
    • Food skills should be considered within the social, cultural, and historical context of Indigenous Peoples.
  • Food skills and opportunities to learn and share
    • Food skills can be taught, learned, and shared in a variety of settings.
  • Food skills and food waste
    • Food skills may help decrease household food waste.


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