Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide
HC Pub.: 4651
*This version has been slightly modified from its original version.
Table of Contents
Recommended Number of Food Guide Servings per Day
|Age in Years||2-3||4-8||9-13||14-18 years||19-50 years||51 + years|
|Sex||Girls and Boys||Females||Males||Females||Males||Females||Males|
|Vegetables and Fruit||4||5||6||7||8||7-8||8-10||7||7|
|Milk and Alternatives||2||2||3-4||3-4||3-4||2||2||3||3|
|Meat and Alternatives||1||1||1-2||2||3||2||3||2||3|
The chart above shows how many Food Guide Servings you need from each of the four food groups every day.
Having the amount and type of food recommended and following the tips in Canada’s Food Guide will help:
- Meet your needs for vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.
- Reduce your risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain types of cancer and osteoporosis.
- Contribute to your overall health and vitality.
What is one Food Guide Serving?
Look at the examples below.
Vegetables and Fruit
Fresh, frozen or canned vegetables
125 mL (½ cup)
250 mL (1 cup)
Fresh, frozen or canned fruits
1 fruit or 125 mL (½ cup)
125 mL (½ cup)
1 slice (35 g)
½ bagel (45 g)
½ pita or ½ tortilla (35 g)
Cooked rice, bulgur or quinoa
125 mL (½ cup)
Cold: 30 g
Hot: 175 mL (¾ cup)
Cooked pasta or couscous 125 mL (½ cup)
Milk and Alternatives
Milk or powered milk (reconstituted)
250 mL (1 cup)
Canned milk (evaporated)
125 mL (½ cup)
Fortified soy beverage
250 mL (1 cup)
175 g (¾ cup)
50 g (1 ½ oz.)
Meat and Alternatives
Cooked fish, shellfish, poultry, lean meat
75 g (2 ½ oz.)/125 mL (½ cup)
175 mL (3/4 cup)
150 g or 175 mL (¾ cup)
Peanut or nut butters
30 mL (2 Tbsp)
Shelled nuts and seeds
60 mL (¼ cup)
Oils and Fats
- Include a small amount – 30 to 45 mL (2 to 3 Tbsp) – of unsaturated fat each day. This includes oil used for cooking, salad dressings, margarine and mayonnaise.
- Use vegetable oils such as canola, olive and soybean.
- Choose soft margarines that are low in saturated and trans fats.
- Limit butter, hard margarine, lard and shortening.
Make each Food Guide Serving count.
wherever you are - at home, at school, at work or when eating out!
Eat at least one dark green and one orange vegetable each day.
- Go for dark green vegetables such as broccoli, romaine lettuce and spinach.
- Go for orange vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes and winter squash.
Choose vegetables and fruit prepared with little or no added fat, sugar or salt.
- Enjoy vegetables steamed, baked or stir-fried instead of deep-fried.
Have vegetables and fruit more often than juice.
Make at least half of your grain products whole grain each day.
- Eat a variety of whole grains such as barley, brown rice, oats, quinoa and wild rice.
- Enjoy whole grain breads, oatmeal or whole wheat pasta.
Choose grain products that are lower in fat, sugar or salt.
- Compare the Nutrition Facts table on labels to make wise choices.
- Enjoy the true taste of grain products. When adding sauces or spreads, use small amounts.
Drink skim, 1%, or 2% milk each day.
- Have 500 mL (2 cups) of milk every day for adequate vitamin D.
- Drink fortified soy beverages if you do not drink milk.
Select lower fat milk alternatives.
- Compare the Nutrition Facts table on yogurts or cheeses to make wise choices.
Have meat alternatives such as beans, lentils and tofu often.
Eat at least two Food Guide Servings of fish each week. *
- Choose fish such as char, herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines and trout.
Select lean meat and alternatives prepared with little or no added fat or salt.
- Trim the visible fat from meats. Remove the skin on poultry.
- Use cooking methods such as roasting, baking or poaching that require little or no added fat.
- If you eat luncheon meats, sausages or packaged meats, choose those lower in salt (sodium) and fat.
* Health Canada provides advice for limiting exposure to mercury from certain types of fish. Refer to www.healthcanada.gc.ca for the latest information.
Enjoy a variety of foods from the four food groups.
Satisfy your thirst with water!
Advice for different ages and stages
Following Canada’s Food Guide helps children grow and thrive.
Young children have small appetites and need calories for growth and development.
- Serve small nutritious meals and snacks each day.
- Do not restrict nutritious foods because of their fat content. Offer a variety of foods from the four food groups.
- Most of all…be a good role model.
Women of childbearing age
All women who could become pregnant and those who are pregnant or breastfeeding need a multivitamin containing folic acid every day. Pregnant women need to ensure that their multivitamin also contains iron. A health care professional can help you find the multivitamin that’s right for you.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women need more calories. Include an extra 2 to 3 Food Guide Servings each day.
Here are two examples:
- Have fruit and yogurt for a snack, or
- Have an extra slice of toast at breakfast and an extra glass of milk at supper.
Men and women over 50
The need for vitamin D increases after the age of 50.
In addition to following Canada’s Food Guide, everyone over the age of 50 should take a daily vitamin D supplement of 10 µg (400 IU).
How do I count Food Guide Servings in a meal?
Here is an example:
Vegetable and beef stir-fry with rice, a glass of milk and an apple for dessert
250 mL (1 cup) mixed broccoli, carrot and sweet red pepper = 2 Vegetables and Fruit Food Guide Servings
75 g (2 ½ oz.) lean beef = 1 Meat and Alternatives Food Guide Serving
250 mL (1 cup) brown rice = 2 Grain Products Food Guide Servings
5 mL (1 tsp) canola oil = part of your Oils and Fats intake for the day
250 mL (1 cup) 1% milk = 1 Milk and Alternatives Food Guide Serving
1 apple = 1 Vegetables and Fruit Food Guide Serving
Eat well and be active today and every day!
The benefits of eating well and being active include:
- Better overall health.
- Lower risk of disease.
- A healthy body weight.
- Feeling and looking better.
- More energy.
- Stronger muscles and bones.
To be active every day is a step towards better health and a healthy body weight.
It is recommended that adults accumulate at least 2 ½ hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity each week and that children and youth accumulate at least 60 minutes per day. You don’t have to do it all at once. Choose a variety of activities spread throughout the week.
Start slowly and build up.
Another important step towards better health and a healthy body weight is to follow Canada’s Food Guide by:
- Eating the recommended amount and type of food each day.
- Limiting foods and beverages high in calories, fat, sugar or salt (sodium) such as cakes and pastries, chocolate and candies, cookies and granola bars, doughnuts and muffins, ice cream and frozen desserts, french fries, potato chips, nachos and other salty snacks, alcohol, fruit flavoured drinks, soft drinks, sports and energy drinks, and sweetened hot or cold drinks.
Read the label
- Compare the Nutrition Facts table on food labels to choose products that contain less fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar and sodium.
- Keep in mind that the calories and nutrients listed are for the amount of food found at the top of the Nutrition Facts table.
Limit trans fat
When a Nutrition Facts table is not available, ask for nutrition information to choose foods lower in trans and saturated fats.
Take a step today…
- Have breakfast every day. It may help control your hunger later in the day.
- Walk wherever you can – get off the bus early, use the stairs.
- Benefit from eating vegetables and fruit at all meals and as snacks.
- Spend less time being inactive such as watching TV or playing computer games.
- Request nutrition information about menu items when eating out to help you make healthier choices.
- Enjoy eating with family and friends!
- Take time to eat and savour every bite!
For more information, interactive tools or additional copies visit Canada ’s Food Guide on-line at: http://www.healthcanada.gc.ca/foodguide
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K9
Tel.: (613) 954-5995
Fax: (613) 941-5366
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