Earlier this year, the federal government released a brand new Food Guide that focuses heavily on whole foods and plant-based proteins.

According to a new report by Angus Reid, about half of all low income households reported that it would be difficult for them to pay their bills if they were to adhere to the diet recommended by this food guide.

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Nearly 50% of Canadians who responded to the Angus Reid survey stated that it has become more difficult to put food on the table over the past 12 months, and 4-in-10 respondents say following this new diet would make affording groceries even more challenging.

Moreover, households that make less than $50,000 a year have reported choosing less healthy food alternatives, or cutting back on meat and vegetables due to rising costs and affordability issues.

Lower income families were also four times more likely than others to use food banks in the past year.

(Angus Reid)

According to the Angus Reid Institute, rising food prices are a regular occurrence and the cost of groceries is expected to increase by 1.5 – 3.5% in 2019, which means households will pay roughly $400 more to put food on the table this year.

In fact, half of Canadians across all income levels have reported feeling the impact of rising food costs in the past year:

(Angus Reid)

Around 35% of the respondents that find it difficult to feed their families have employed the following cost cutting measures when it comes to buying groceries:

  • switched to cheaper brands
  • chosen less healthy options that are cheaper
  • cut back on meat
  • cut back on fruit and vegetables
  • gotten groceries from a food bank

The Canada Food Guide may not even be a consideration for some when choosing their diets, as 61% of respondents say that information about which foods are good and bad are constantly changing, leaving them confused.

Diet trends appear to generate more confusion among older Canadians, though at least half of each age group say this is something they struggle with.

Canada’s Food Guide was updated this year for the first time since 2007, which for some was a significant update to be aware of. However, approximately half of all Canadians reported seeing little or no media coverage about the release.

(Angus Reid)

The guide takes into account new scientific evidence and recommendations from dieticians, and specifically endorses consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables, choosing whole grains, and eating protein foods.

While meat and dairy have not been eliminated from the chart, plant-based proteins are highlighted with options like legumes, beans, and tofu featured more prominently.

Health Canada also emphasizes the importance of how food is consumed rather than just what is on our plates.

To this end, the agency recommends cooking more often, eating meals with other people, being aware of food marketing and labels, and even talks about the benefits of enjoying your meals.

(Canada Food Guide)