A report released by Health Canada on 22nd January 2019 outlines guidelines and considerations for healthy eating, based on scientific study. The report suggests improvements in the Canadian food environment, and is primarily meant for policy makers and health professionals – who can influence the food consumption habits of people. However, immigrants seeking to relocate to Canada may also benefit from gaining prior knowledge regarding how to maintain nutritional intake and overall well-being in Canada.
Dietary habits, high body mass index and tobacco consumption are the three leading causes for disease in Canada. One of the leading reasons of premature death in the country are chronic diseases related to diet. A large chunk of the Canadian population is aged, obese and/or leads a sedentary lifestyle.
Additionally, there exists an abundance of contradicting information regarding healthy eating. Food choices are informed by access to food and options available. In this context, there is a need to provide a framework for an ideal diet. Specific guidelines were recommended to provide guidance for eating practices –
- Nutritious foods form the basis of a healthy diet.
- The diet should include a variety of foods – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and mostly plant-based protein.
- It is advisable to eat in a mindful and deliberate manner, in the company of others.
- Processed foods with added sodium, saturated fat and sugars should not be regularly consumed.
- Water should be chosen over sugar-rich or aerated drinks.
- Sugar substitutes are not required to replace sugar consumption.
- Alcohol consumption is associated with health risks.
- Healthier options should be preferred when eating out.
- Develop food skills to understand the food environment.
- Food should be planned and prepared by the person consuming it.
- It is necessary to check food labels and be aware of the misleading messaging of food marketing.
- Cultural traditions should be integrated into eating habits.
- Knowledge of food skills can reduce the food waste in households.
The report also emphasises on food literacy i.e. seeking information regarding nutrition and consumption. These observations provide an insight into Canada’s eating patterns and encourage immigrants to maintain their cultural food traditions in a foreign land. There is a well-established Indian community in Canada, implying that access to Indian cooking ingredients is not restricted. Food accessibility and an understanding of the local food environment enables immigrants to seamlessly assimilate into their new surroundings.