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Canada drops milk from healthy eating list

Canada has taken a radical step to prevent food manufacturers lobbying for food promotion. Including other changes its new dietary guidelines have dropped milk from being part of a healthy diet. This was covered at the BBC bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-can...

The full guide can be viewed at food-guide.canada.ca/en/foo...

In putting the guide together Dr Hasan Hutchinson, director general of Health Canada's office of nutrition policy and promotion. says "We were very clear that when we were looking at the evidence base that we were not going to be using reports that have been funded by industry as well".

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I notice that plate contains essentially zero fat and not enough actual food for a ten-year-old kid. No wonder Canadians aren't far behind Americans on obesity; I think I'd want a box of a dozen Krispy Kreme after a "meal" like that.

There's no doubt there are plenty of people who react badly to dairy. OTOH there are plenty of people who can eat/drink dairy products without any adverse effects. I'd have to say it's up to the individual to find out which camp they're in.

It gets very wearisome listening to governments recite their ever-growing list of things that are bad for us. By 2050 I expect they'll be prescribing us meals-in-a-pill and warning us away from anything that looks like actual food.

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It looks a lot like a diet plate, the sort you buy online to help with weight loss. It might be related to their obesity issues, as it will be trying to get those people to lose weight.

It is interesting though, that they have gone very low fat.

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Zero fat? I see multiple sources of fat on that plate: the nuts, the egg, the fish, the yogurt, and the meat.

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Completely inadequate amounts, relative to everything else.

Even if you doubled everything to make a proper adult meal, you'd still be left with a total fat content in the 10-15g ballpark. What on earth are they thinking? No oils, no butter or cheese. The meat is ultra-lean (what on earth are people supposed to do with the rest of the chicken or cow?). I'm only guessing here, but it looks like about 80-90% energy calories from carbs, mostly high-GI ones.

And three (count 'em, three) green leaves? Seriously?

That plate is guaranteed to cause nutritional deficiencies, constant hunger, and all the chronic diseases that follow. There are people out in the hills of Somalia eating better than that.

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I don't think this plate is trying to suggest anything on it is a portion. What this plate says to me, is that at any given meal, half your plate should be vegetables, 1/4 protein, and 1/4 wholegrains. The food on the plate is only there to give examples of what we should eat, and isn't a strict "only these foods" example.

I think it would be good to give more information on oils, even if it's just to say how much to cook with. And there's not a lot there about snacking.

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Fat is a macronutrient and information on it can be found on the pages for nutrients.

canada.ca/en/health-canada/...

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So in other words you looked at a pretty image and did not look at the information the Canadian government provides. Fat is a macronutrient and it is under the nutrients section. And several of those foods have been cooked in a small amount of oil. Which is what they suggest.

You are also taking the plate two literally. Three leaves? They are not suggesting you have three leaves of lettuce. They are suggesting your meal proportion should be half fruit or vegetables. Those are just some examples of foods that can make up that portion. The Canadian Dietary Guidelines pdf says this information can be further applied to cultural food (it mentions that Canada has over 250 ethnic groups) and gives examples of Indigenous foods like seal and fiddleheads. So clearly that image is only a small representative of the food products available for consumption.

canada.ca/en/health-canada/...

food-guide.canada.ca/en/gui...

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>> So in other words you looked at a pretty image and did not look at the information the Canadian government provides

I realise the picture is an abstraction that isn't supposed to be taken completely literally, but if it doesn't accurately convey the essential features of the advice, what's the point of it? For example, there's a lot more fruit on the plate than green leaves, which suggests that that's the relative proportions one should be eating. If that's not what was intended, why arrange the plate that way?

In any case, I've now read the text, and it doesn't contradict my initial impression. Fats are barely even mentioned. Where they are mentioned, we're told to remove them:

Choose:

-skinless poultry

-lean cuts of meat such as round and loin

-fresh or frozen meat, and poultry without rich sauces

-meat prepared with little or no added sodium or saturated fat

-lower fat cheeses

[what on earth is a lower fat cheese?]

-unsweetened lower fat yogurt

-unsweetened lower fat milk

Try healthier ways to prepare your food by:

-draining off extra fat after cooking

-trimming the visible fat from meats

-removing skin from poultry before cooking

-limiting the amount of sauces, butter or gravy

Apart from the sheer pointlessness of it all, this irritates me from an ecological perspective. Are people supposed to literally discard an entire animal except for the lean bits? Are farmers doomed to genetically manipulate and drug their animals to produce the abnormally low bodyfat demanded by the State? In a similar vein: bear in mind that Canada is a very cold country, with a very short growing season for agricultural produce. The climate-appropriate food would be animal-fat-based (as First Nation people are well aware).

There's a 300g RDA for carbohydrates mentioned somewhere, for a 2000kCal reference diet. Assuming 300-400kCal as protein, the implication is that one's total daily fat intake should be <50g ... which is not too far off my original estimate of 10-15g per meal. There is zero scientific justification either for that large proportion of carbs, or for the draconian restriction on fat.

To be fair, there's some reasonable advice about avoiding processed food and being wary of health claims in food advertising. Unfortunately, the bulk of it is the same tired old memes about eliminating salt and fat from your diet because these supposedly cause heart disease. The irony is that people have already internalised this advice, yet heart disease remains such a public heath issue that governments worldwide now believe we all have to be dosed up on statins to deal with it. Clearly then, the advice isn't working.

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Based on the information you provided it looks like you read their protein section and not their fats section.

I think their website could be better. I think they should replicate some of the nutrients section that is on the Heath Canada website onto the Food Guide website. People don't seem to comprehend what foods they can get certain nutrients from. Think of the many people who don't understand how you can get protein from non-meat sources. I do agree that encouraging things like low fat yoghurt and cheese is silly. Moderation is the key. They should probably still include information on portions and what those portions actually look like. And probably a good media blitz about the guide and healthy eating since the media appears to be a bit sensationalist about the new guide at the moment.

Also saying Canada is a very cold country is rather hyperbolic. It stretches across part of an entire continent and experiences a wide variety of climates. I went to university on Vancouver Island and there were flowers out in February. And here in my town in Southern Alberta it is going to be 9 C today. It's also of course in a completely different part of Canada (Ottawa) is -14C. We also have this amazing thing called interior heating so we dont need to eat huge amounts of fat to keep warm. It is important if you are residing in an igloo but alas we don't have the correct snow in Southern Alberta to make those (my dad has worked with the Inuit in the Arctic and knows how to make one. He also ate the blubber-filled diet that corresponds with said lifestyle). Also, from what I understand, the local indigenous meats like bison and deer are lower in fat than domesticated animals. Domesticated animals are fatty because we have made them so. A thousand years ago animals like cattle had less fat on them.

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>> it looks like you read their protein section and not their fats section.

Well ... the thing is, that's either the advice or it isn't. It doesn't matter what the section heading is. People are going to get the message "all fat is bad". Which is fundamentally incorrect.

I did read the fats section, and I agree that it does subtly contradict the protein section (and what are people supposed to make of that?). To the extent that there's any consistency at all, the general message is that all unsaturated oils are wonderfully healthy and all saturated fats will kill you - which, again, isn't even without shouting distance of accurate. Then there's the implicit 50g limit on all fats ... even though the advice supposedly places no upper bound on unsaturates.

>> People don't seem to comprehend what foods they can get certain nutrients from.

You can get nutrients from food. I don't know why government agencies have to make this more complicated than it actually is.

>> Moderation is the key.

Indeed. So why are we treating fat as if it's a toxin? This is fad-diet territory.

>> They should probably still include information on portions and what those portions actually look like.

Why? I've never seen a wild animal with a portion-control poster pinned up in his burrow. Why is it that humans suddenly need exogenous control of their food servings? We know the answer to this: low-fat diets. Meals without fat in them induce appetite disruption - possibly because the body senses that it's eating nutrient-deficient food. Regular large doses of carbs have a similar effect by switching off the body's fat-burning mechanism; it becomes unable to access its own fat stores and demands more carbs.

>> It stretches across part of an entire continent and experiences a wide variety of climates.

Sure. Nevertheless, there is a finite growing season for annual food crops which is not more than about six months even on the US border. Animal-raising, and meat products, are an ecologically-sound component of a cold- or temperate-climate diet.

>> We also have this amazing thing called interior heating so we dont need to eat huge amounts of fat to keep warm.

Well yes. You can throw technology at any problem and pretend it's gone away. That almost never works though. Eventually humans are forced to confront the fact that nature always has the last word. In any case dietary fat is nothing to do with keeping warm. It's an energy source just like carbs (heat is just a byproduct of metabolism, and carbs and fats are burned with almost identical efficiency - around 18%). In fact various subsystems (notably your heart) prefer to run on fatty acids.

I've argued elsewhere that there's a reason humans have adapted to get fat on carbs (not dietary fat) : the production of seedheads and fruit coincides with the onset of winter, which is precisely when a free-range human would need some bodily insulation and large inbuilt energy stores.

>> He also ate the blubber-filled diet that corresponds with said lifestyle.

And did he come home with advanced heart disease? If the dieticians are right, it would have been impolite not to.

>> the local indigenous meats like bison and deer are lower in fat than domesticated animals. Domesticated animals are fatty because we have made them so. A thousand years ago animals like cattle had less fat on them.

Yes and no. Wild animals change their bodyfat across the seasons. Sometimes they're lean, sometimes not. Animal fat has always been valued, and until recently domestic animals were (still are in most countries) raised to have a reasonable subcutaneous fat layer. Visceral fat was valued as a cooking oil. It's only in the last few years that we've become obsessed with raising low-fat animals, and they're now abnormally lean. I have a couple of pictures in agri textbooks showing pig breeds that look like bodybuilders after a cutting cycle - all muscle and vascularity. It's truly bizarre. This has been achieved via genetic manipulation and drugs.

After going all around the houses, my point really is this: the idea that fat is bad for you is just woo-woo, and it has no place in official advice. Telling people to exclude fat makes them ill and obese; it creates waste (of perfectly good food); and it compels farmers to do unnatural, cruel, and unprofitable things.

I sincerely hope the media do rip this to pieces. Maybe the experts will go and read up on some science and produce a better version.

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Tad, your arguments on the disadvantage of low fat need proving. In all humans the preferred fuel is carbs, even yours. Reduce the carbs and fat is needed as a fuel source. Increasing carbs means you don't need fat as a fuel source so much, eg nuts seeds are sufficient. Have both high carbs and high fat and your body is in trouble.

Only when I'm 80 plus will I have to increase oils, according to dr fuhrman. That I am looking into to understand more.

Right now my body is bouncing with energy and health. If that's what you call, disruptive, then I'll take that any day.

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>> In all humans the preferred fuel is carbs, even yours

It depends what you mean by "preferred". Carbs are burned in preference to anything else because they have to be: if that didn't happen, blood sugar would be all over the place. That doesn't mean there's any great metabolic advantage in doing so. And as noted, several bits of your body don't like using glucose - they will preferentially use fatty acids or ketones.

>> your arguments on the disadvantage of low fat need proving.

No, it needs disproving. My hypothesis is in accord with some empirical observations:

- Low-fat, calorie-controlled diets create horrible cravings leading to further weight gain. You only have to browse around the NHS forum to see this happening to people.

- When fat is added back to the diet (preferably with an accompanying reduction in carbs), appetite stabilizes and people are able to control their food intake without any heroic effort. Again, you can see this happen if you follow some of the stories on the NHS forum.

- Populations that have adopted the low-fat high-carb mantra are all in trouble. Every single one of them. The Chinese and Japanese are often wheeled out to refute this argument, but neither of those societies vilify dietary fat or consume the vast quantities of processed carbs that is recommended in the West (or at least they did not until recently ... and they're now developing Western diseases).

- Nature does not normally provide low-fat food. If it did, there would be no need to engineer things like margarine, low-fat yoghurt, and genetically-altered animals.

If that were not the case, I'd need to offer up some proof. Given the above, though, I'm justified in calling for experimental refutation, or an alternative hypothesis that explains the observed facts better.

>> Have both high carbs and high fat and your body is in trouble.

I think we can probably agree on this point, but it's a very particular combination of those that we're talking about. It demands very, very high levels of processed carbs (white bread and the like) to push your metabolism over a cliff.

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Where, oh where are these horrible cravings? It is easy to rubbish someone by making a statement. But you need evidence to back it up.

From my perspective there are two things that together make you feel satiated. One is a full stomach, which is exceptionally easy on a high-fibre diet, especially one made from whole foods that take longer to process. The other aspect is a complete nutrition profile, eg enough magnesium, vitc, protein etc etc. That again is very easy to do on a WFPB diet.

Any diet that involves counting calories risks leaving a feeling of emptiness. True inducing ketosis suppresses appetite, but I think a good appetite is a healthy thing.

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>> Where, oh where are these horrible cravings? It is easy to rubbish someone by making a statement. But you need evidence to back it up.

I just suggested where to find what you're looking for: spend a couple of weeks reading posts in the NHS forum (or any other forum where people are following a low fat diet). It happens with distressing regularity. Not to everyone, but to many. You will also see statements to this general effect: "OMG I just started eating full-fat ingredients again and I feel so much better". If you don't want to look, that's up to you, but there's plentiful evidence there.

>> One is a full stomach, which is exceptionally easy on a high-fibre diet, especially one made from whole foods that take longer to process. The other aspect is a complete nutrition profile, eg enough magnesium, vitc, protein etc etc. That again is very easy to do on a WFPB diet.

I agree that eating enough is critically important. Eating too little magnifies the effect of inadequate fat. Nevertheless you are, at best, missing out on something that tends to make food taste nicer.

It seems that bodies can get away with very little added fat (again, see the NHS forum) but it does need to pass a certain threshold. Merely eating fat as it occurs naturally in food - as opposed to processing it out and throwing it away - seems to do the trick. It's possible that you're getting a bare minimum from whatever you're eating simply because you're eating large meals and don't eat rubbish that's had the fat artificially removed.

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Probably something to do with them been on all that cannabis.

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hey, at least it's plant-based and fat-free :)

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Interesting! I was allergic to milk as a kid, so have never had the traditional amount of dairy. I've often wondered whether that will leave me open to osteoporosis in later life, but so far, I've had no negative effects. It's always reassuring to see them remove milk from the "healthy diet" advice - I can worry a bit less.

I do notice they have nuts on the plate though ;)

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When I was a kid, we were all given a little bottle of milk at school every morning. I now feel sorry for the kids who were dairy-intolerant (there must have been a few), but back in the day you weren't allowed to be dairy-intolerant; you drank your milk and kept quiet!

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I think because mine was an allergy (I'd be sick as soon as I drank any) they had to accept I couldn't drink it. I got diluting juice instead.

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I remember those little bottles, being forced to drink them was the worst part of the day. Especially in the summer when the crates of bottles had been left out in the sun to get warm for 5 hours or so.

Since then I've never able drink neat milk, and even looking at a glass of it brings back feelings of nausea. Funilly enough I was able to drink milk with tea and coffee.

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>> Especially in the summer when the crates of bottles had been left out in the sun to get warm for 5 hours or so.

LOL - I'd forgotten about that! They'd have health-and-safety swarming all over them today if they did that.

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I like milk in tea/ coffee, porridge, sauces etc but still cannot drink it neat 50 years later because of those gross warm bottles at school. We were a little jealous of the diabetic kids because they got squash instead of milk, but the mind boggles now thinking of that because I don't think there was any sugar free squash in the 1970s !

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Sounds like those bottles bring back nightmares for anyone over a certain age!

Yeah, squash in the 70s was dreadful stuff. God only knows what they made it with. I do remember as a kid I didn't even like it; it literally tasted of chemicals. I was OK with the milk ... as long as it hadn't been gently stewing in the sun (it acquired a certain smell - I'm sure y'all remember that!).

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As far as I know it the history of milk bottles in schools is slightly interesting. Following early 20 century attempts to make cows milk more widely available as production went up and up there were lots of cases of food poisoning etc. Then of course pasteurisation arrived and so people did not suffer the problems of milk going off so quickly. By that time production rates had increased to the point that there was a milk surplus. So the wheeze of giving this spare milk away to schools was brought upon the scene, I think around the 1950s.

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Free school milk was introduced in 1946, when food rationing was still in place and there was concern over malnutrition in children. There was no milk surplus, the country was emerging from the war!

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Hi Andy,

Thanks for sharing this. I am disappointed to see that milk and dairy products aren't included in the plate. I'm wondering what the white stuff is in the dish (in the protein section - is it some yoghurt?)

Zest :-)

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Good point! Never noticed that.

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Yes it is a yoghurt.

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Thanks Penel

I've just been looking at something written about the Canada guidelines, and dairy are included

globalnews.ca/news/4873598/...

Zest :-)

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Even better is the page for the nutrient calcium. The guide seems to be focusing on daily value of various nutrients and the has lists containing the value of various macro and micro nutrients in food products. Micro-nutrients like calcium can be found in a variety of foods including milk and green vegetables. From what I have experienced people are very confused as to what nutrients are available in which foods and are incredibly ignorant as to sources for various nutrients like protein and iron. Think of all the people who think you can only get protein and iron from meat. It's a shame considering that they could just look at a food label and discover that Cherrios has 30% of of the daily recommended intake of iron.

canada.ca/en/health-canada/...

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I think I prefer the French dietary guide with three portions of dairy a day.

Fascinating to see food recommendations from different countries.

huffpost.com/entry/food-pyr...

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Thanks for this Penel - I shall enjoy having a look at the different ones over the weekend. :-)

Zest :-)

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That's really interesting, thanks for sharing!

It's really interesting to see most countries are roughly the same, with most putting carbs as the largest food group (only a few have carbs and veg on the same level, while only one said veg should be the largest food group). I like that Japan separated out fruit and veg too. Interesting that Poland considers potatoes to be vegetables.

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Camel milk is very good for you and makes you feel good.

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May i ask why cameel milk is so good and why it makes you feel good?

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