Ok so it's out... Canada now has new guidelines for healthy eating.
I think Health Canada got a lot of things right this time around, but I also think that now that our new guide is out we need to enter into a different conversation about food and health.
Beautiful, isn't it?
While Health Canada has included a beautiful explanation of why nutritional guidance is important and how food effects various aspects of our health, I was disappointed to see that the impact of food on mental health is again left out of the discussion.
What we eat influences how we think, feel, act and function. Many of us know this intuitively, but we also have ample research to support it as well. Early childhood nutrition has been shown to reduce mental illness later in life. Nutrient deficiencies have been shown to be contributors to ADHD and depression. I have experienced with my own family and with my clients that while it's not usually ONE dietary change that makes a difference, when we explore all corners of a child's diet they start to feel better in their bodies and function better in school.
Overlooking the impact of food on our brains, moods and behaviour yet again (as it is left out of most conversations about mental health), is a major oversight. This needs to be in policy so we can start improving public awareness about it and help more Canadians overcome their mental health struggles.
The other missing piece is a conversation about food security and food accessibility. I can forgive Health Canada for this... its mandate was to create a broad policy for all Canadians, after all. But I'm hoping that with this new food guide we will start to see better public understanding that while healthy eating doesn't need to be complicated, it does need to be fresh, whole, and diverse. And along with that new understanding I am hopeful that we can engage in creative solutions to make sure every single person in our country has access to this kind of quality, whole food.
Until we can make it easier for families do the right thing with food, the crises in health care and in education we're experiencing now will continue to worsen.
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