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  • Refers mostly to processed foods
  • Intention is not to limit total fat, just encourage unsaturated over saturated
  • Limit excess added sugars/free sugars
  • Limit excess sodium
  • Emphasize “to limit” NOT “avoid”

Limit foods high in sodium, sugars or saturated fat

A goal of the food guide is to move people away from relying on highly processed foods to cooking more at home. Cooking and food preparation using nutritious foods should be promoted as a practical way to support healthy eating. Unfortunately, there has been a shift from cooking meals with basic ingredients towards the use of highly processed products, which requires fewer or different skills.

The increased use of these products has decreased the transfer of food skills to children and adolescents. Therefore, improving food skills by cooking and preparing food at home can contribute to improved food choices and eating behaviours among Canadians of all ages.

Is an essential nutrient. However, higher sodium intake is associated with higher blood pressure, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Sodium is present throughout the food supply, but the biggest contributor to sodium in our diet are processed foods including bakery products, mixed dishes (ready to eat meals), processed meats, cheeses, soups, sauces, dips, gravies, and condiments. Therefore, reducing the consumption of processed foods can help reduce your overall sodium consumption.

Free sugars are sugars that are added to foods and beverages by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, and sugar found naturally in honey, syrups. Fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates. Free sugars do not include the naturally occurring sources of sugars found in intact or cut fruit and vegetables, and unsweetened milk.
In Canada, sugary drinks, sugars, syrups, preserves, confectionaries, desserts (including frozen dessert) and bakery products were among the main sources of total sugars in the diets.

To help reduce the intake of free sugars, the majority of total sugar intake should come from nutritious foods, such as intact or cut fruit and vegetables and unsweetened milk.

Saturated fat
Is a type of fat found in foods. It is found is animal-based foods, such as cream, butter, cheeses. And fatty meats as well as some vegetable oils such as coconut and palm kernel oil, and in coconut milk. The major food sources of saturated fats in Canadians diets are cheeses, red meat, butter and hard margarine.
It’s important to acknowledge that fat is important for a child and teen’s growth and development. The recommendations are not about limiting fat intake, but rather about replacement of saturated fats with foods that contains mostly unsaturated fats. Learn more about the different types of fats here:

How to support this recommendation at schools?
A child’s food choices are shaped by the foods that parents or caregivers are able to select and prepare. Factors such as household income, parental employment status, as well as health all affect food choices available to children. Children may have little influence over the food that gets sent in their snacks or lunch. As a result, in a school environment, it is important increase students’ exposure to whole foods (and making them more accessible)
This can be done in many different ways:

  • Start a student nutrition program at your school and offer healthy meals and snacks that emphasize whole unprocessed foods like vegetables and fruits. To learn more about student nutrition programs visit:
  • Fundraise using local vegetables and fruit!
  • Ensure lunches sold at your school emphasize a variety of healthy foods instead of highly processed foods
  • Start a school garden – grow delicious fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs for everyone at the school to enjoy
  • Teach children to cook using whole ingredients