National Nutrition Month
1 March 2022
March is National Nutrition Month, an annual campaign created by the Dietitians of Canada that aims to highlight the importance of making informed food choices, and developing balanced eating and physical activity habits.
Healthy eating habits are critical for healthy development and for preventing disease. Our food choices are impacted by the environments in which we live, learn and play, as well as our cultural backgrounds.
Dietary Intakes in Ontario
Canada has national dietary guidelines which provide healthy eating recommendations to help people meet nutrient needs and promote health. Public Health Ontario’s (PHO) report What's on the Plate? looks at the mean dietary intake of Ontarians according to food groupings that align and do not align with Canada’s Food Guide (CFG), and what types of foods are most consumed.
The report found that on a single day in Ontario, vegetables and fruits made up 29% of the volume of all foods consumed, whereas protein foods made up 22%, whole grain foods made up 8%, and 41% was made up of non-whole grain and other foods. Overall, the report found that the vast majority of meals were made up of non-whole grain and other foods – food types that are not aligned with the 2019 CFG recommendations. This indicates that other and non-whole grain foods may displace the intake of vegetables and fruits, protein, and whole grain foods for meals or snacks, and highlights opportunities to create supportive public health programs and policies to promote healthy eating for all Ontarians.
Healthier Diets for Healthier Ontarians
To improve population health, the 2019 CFG recommends healthy plates that include more vegetables and fruit, whole grains, and plant-based proteins, and reduced amounts of saturated fat, refined grains, highly processed foods, and added sugar. It is important for public health interventions to address the imbalance between recommended and non-recommended food intake to promote health and reduce the risk of disease.