The Brazilian Food Guide

May 5, 2020 at 5:54 pm | Posted in uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Recently, I watched the Nature of Things CBC-TV show that highlighted the Brazilian Food Guide.

The Five Principles the guide used to set the guidelines:
1) Diet is more than intake of nutrients
2) Dietary recommendations need to be tuned to their times
3) Healthy diets derive from socially and environmentally
sustainable food systems
4) Different sources of knowledge inform sound dietary
5) Dietary guidelines broaden autonomy in food choices

Rather than categorizing foods by type (meat, dairy, vegetables, etc.), the guide categorizes by quality, according to four levels of processing:

  1. Natural or minimally processed foods (fruits, vegetables, legumes, eggs, nuts).
  2. Oils, fats, salt, and sugar are processed culinary ingredients (butter, cooking oil).
  3. Processed foods (canned vegetables, pickled foods, cured meat, cheese, typical bread).
  4. Ultra-processed foods with industrial ingredients (snacks, cookies, flavored yogurts, soda, instant and fast foods, animal byproducts, etc). If an ingredient has a chemical name, it’s a chemical.

Thus, Four Recommendations:

1) Make natural or minimally processed foods the basis of
your diet
2) Use oils, fats, salt, and sugar in small amounts for seasoning and cooking foods and to create culinary preparations
3) Limit the use of processed foods, consuming them in small
amounts as ingredients in culinary preparations or as part
of meals based on natural or minimally processed foods
4) Avoid ultra-processed foods entirely. “Ultra-processed foods damage culture, social life, and the environment.”

Their Golden Rule: “Always prefer natural or minimally processed foods and freshly made dishes and meals to ultra-processed foods.”

The guide goes on to offer meal suggestions.

The also recommend several Modes of Eating:

  • Eating regularly and carefully. Regular times, at the table, eat slowly and with attention.
  • Eating in appropriate environments. Clean, comfortable, and quiet without stimulus to overeat.
  • Eating in company, share in prep and eating.

The guide also explores obstacles to following it.

And finally, they suggest 10 Steps to a Healthy Diet:

1) Make natural or minimally processed foods the basis of your diet

2) Use oils, fats, sugar, and salt in small amounts

3) Limit consumption of processed foods and drinks

4) Avoid ultra-processed foods

5) Eat regular meals in appropriate environments and eat with others. Avoid snacking or treating a meal as a snack

6) Shop where you can get a variety of natural foods

7) Develop, practice, and share cooking skills

8) Plan your time to make food and eating important in your life – it’s for your well-being and longevity

9) Away from home, prefer places that serve freshly-made food

10) Be wary of food marketing

guide cover

The Brazilian Guide (pdf)

Canada recently revised it’s food guide as well. They were clearly influenced by the Brazilian approach as they added cooking more and eating with others. They didn’t depart from the food-types approach but they did de-emphasize meat and dairy, shifting to a broader protein approach that accounts for a broader dietary range.


Eating for Life

December 10, 2015 at 4:27 pm | Posted in Economoney, Health, Science | 2 Comments
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Eating based on beliefs or special diets that are not designed for your specific body can have unintended consequences. Variety is what makes food interesting and ensures we get the diversity of nutrients required.

Readers of this blog know I did a series on the CHIP program. This included some of the science for shifting to a more plant-based diet, minimizing cancer risk, and overall self care. The program was originally designed for heart patients but was expanded to the whole population.

I quite liked the approach as it looked at how and what we eat, fitness, emotional health, and more. CHIP recommends a primarily plant-based diet but suggests you move in that direction rather than mandating anything.

The weakness however is not differentiating recommendations by body type. For myself I’ve found Ayurveda adds some useful extras. For a start, they begin with your body type and make dietary recommendations accordingly. They recognize that not all of us will respond to the same vegetables or other foods in the same way. Each of us needs a certain emphasis or balance of food types.

Ayurveda favours a vegetarian diet that includes dairy, but they allow for the full range and can recommend some occasional fish or white meat. They have a food as medicine approach. Dairy is also prepared in specific ways. Clarified butter, soft cheeses, and boiled milk, for example.

Ideally, we begin with initial recommendations and then experiment. Pay attention to how foods make you feel afterwards. But be very careful where sugar is involved. Sugar confuses the bodies intelligence so it messes up the signals and creates craving. Also, you may find dietary needs change with age and life, so we may need to tune up choices periodically.

But if we can learn to take the bodies lead in our eating choices rather than some dietary rules or beliefs, we’ll do much better and enjoy life more.

Science is beginning to catch on to this. Programs are being developed (as yet far too expensive) that make science-based diet and exercise recommendations that are specific to your body. By combining DNA, blood, and other tests, we’ll soon be offered more personalized recommendations.

Meantime, enjoy the experiment.

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