Canada's Food Guide is getting its first major overhaul in more than a decade. The update has been in the works for years, and is set to be released in the coming months.
This is what Canada's food guide has looked like since 2007:
Canada's Food Guide provides food information for people at different ages and stages of life. (Health Canada/UN Food and Agriculture Organization)
While we wait to see Canada's new guide, we checked out the nearly 100 that exist around the world from a list complied by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
There is a lot of detailed information in them. Most carry the same main messages:
- Eat a variety of foods.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Get enough exercise.
And most tend to agree that eating more vegetables and whole grains is best, while consuming sugar and excessive fats — especially processed fats — is to be avoided.
But countries can get pretty creative when it comes to getting that information across.
Some food guides are shaped like buildings
Cambodia's guide is in the shape of an Angkor Wat — a temple complex in the country and one of the largest religious monuments in the world. The guide was developed with the help of schoolchildren, who were surveyed by the Ministry of Health about the foods they most commonly eat.
(Cambodia Ministry of Health/UN Food and Agriculture Organization )
Benin's guide is a is a round traditional house with a thatch roof. The water in the entrance is there for two reasons: as a symbol of Beninese hospitality and a reminder that plenty of water should be consumed throughout the day.
(Benin Regional Health Institute/UN Food and Agriculture Organization )
China's pagoda uses the traditional five levels to indicate how much of each food group to eat.
(Chinese Nutrition Society/UN Food and Agriculture Organization)
Others are shaped like foods native to the country
Antigua and Barbuda uses a pineapple, while Qatar's guide is in a seafood shell.
(Government of Antigua and Barbuda/UN Food and Agriculture Organization)
(Qatar Supreme Council of Health/UN Food and Agriculture Organization)
Most guides make daily exercise a main component
In fact, only 12 make no mention of physical activity at all. Korea's is pretty blatant.
(Health Industry Development Institute/Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN)
France has designed its guide as a staircase to hit home the message.
(France Ministry of Health/Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN)
Japan's guide is in the shape of a spinning top — a traditional Japanese toy. It features a person running around a glass of water or tea on top, to represent the need for adequate physical activity.
Full Government of Japan credit: Japan Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Food Safety and Consumer Affairs Bureau (Government of Japan/UN Food and Agriculture Organization)
There are countries with more than one guide
And Canada is one of them. First published in 1942, Canada's current guide is available in English and French, as well as 10 other languages, including Chinese, Arabic and Punjabi. There is also a version designed specifically for Inuit, First Nations and Métis.
Venezuela also has two food guides: one for the general population and one for the country's Indigenous population. The main difference lies in the recommended protein sources, with a range of wild animals shown in the Indigenous one, and cuts of meat in the other.
(Bengoa Foundation for Food and Nutrition/UN Food and Agriculture Organization )
In famous form, one gets straight to the point
Sweden's guide follows that aesthetic made so famous by Swedes (think Ikea!).
(National Food Agency/UN Food and Agriculture Organization )
These two focus on how often to eat, rather than on how much to eat
Spain and Greece divide their pyramids into daily, weekly, and occasion consumption groups.
(Spanish Agency for Consumer Affairs, Food Safety and Nutrition, Hellenic Ministry of Health/UNFOA )
And one has attracted widespread praise
Brazil has been singled out by nutritionists and food scientists for its innovative approach. Instead of publishing a colourful picture of what you should eat more or less of, it has published guidelines around eating processed versus non-processed foods, and focuses on making choices based on social and environmentally sustainability.
(Brazil/UN Food and Agriculture Organization)
And because the guide is long (152 pages) and not likely to be read by most Brazilians, the government has also helpfully narrowed it down into a short, 10-step plan.
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