It’s been three years since the latest Canada Food Guide came out. We gave it a positive review at the time and still hold that its content is solid. But, as we know, especially in the worlds of ergonomics and healthcare, providing information doesn’t always get you results.
Is the Latest Canada Food Guide Effective? An Opportunity for Employees
So, is the latest Canada Food Guide effective? People tend to want to be healthy and the guide should help them get there. It’s great that the guide is much more flexible than those of the past. However, the more options people have, the more information they need to get on the right path.
In other words, the lack of guidance can be overwhelming. Think of fitness trackers, for example; they’re great for people who are already active, but they aren’t going to get you very far if you’re just starting out with exercise and developing healthy habits.
The Canada Food Guide would be more effective if it went a step further and directed people toward the reputable resources they need to successfully change their diet. If I want to get more plant-based protein in my diet, where do I start? What should I buy and cook? Are there any affordable options?
It’s not as simple as switching meats out of your meals in favor of substitutes. Yes, your diet should be high in plant-based proteins. But, if you are transitioning your diet in this direction it’s crucial to be aware of the nutritional differences of the new foods you are eating or consuming more of.
For example, plant-based proteins contain less iron and vitamin B12 than their meat-derived counterparts. This doesn’t mean they’re less healthy, just that you need to find another source of these nutrients or you could end up with a deficiency.
A complete lack of information on nutrient deficiencies – despite their high prevalence in our population – puts a significant dent in the Canada Food Guide’s effectiveness. Health professionals are recognizing a concerning trend toward dependence on highly processed foods or items with poor nutritional content as consumers aim to rely more on plant-based protein.
Simple Solutions for Healthy Habits
Most of us want to eat healthy, but it’s not easy. Affordable, straight forward options are in high demand, yet the ones that seem most readily available often have the least nutritional value. We need simple, plain language tools to help people eat better and practice healthy habits.
This is where there’s an opportunity for employers, especially considering the short and long-term impacts diet has on energy levels and mental health. Changing a few things in your lunch can turn your afternoon crash into an afternoon boost.
For example, lightening up on carbs in favor of some extra fruits and greens should keep the yawns at bay. Many people resort to over caffeinating when they get tired in the afternoon rather than looking at the reason they are feeling sleepy in the first place.
And, in fairness to them, this reflects the reactive approach to health and wellness that still dominates our society and its approach to healthcare. We treat people after they develop chronic illnesses rather than supporting them before they end up in the hospital.
Invest in Your Employees’ Health
Food fuels our minds as well as our bodies. A nutrient packed diet will help you maximize your cognition, manage stress and anxiety, and improve focus and overall productivity. As an employee this not only makes your workday easier but leaves you with more gas in the tank to enjoy your evening. And, in the long run, you’ll be mentally and physically healthier and more resilient.
A well nourished workforce is more likely to be a productive, satisfied, and happy one. The challenge, though, is for adults to change long established dietary habits. This is where workplace wellness programs and health modules can really pay dividends. If we can teach employees how to read food labels, decipher food marketing, and find healthy options that work for them, they will be empowered to take control of this important part of their lives.
The leading risk for death and second leading risk for disability in Canada is unhealthy eating. We can change this while also making our workplace environments safer, more productive, and healthier. Contact EWI Works if you need assistance designing a workplace wellness or nutrition program, and watch for our upcoming workplace nutrition course!
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