Van deMark noted that the updated food guide also emphasizes whole foods in their most natural state, like fresh fruits and vegetables, cooked salmon, chicken, beans, nuts, eggs and plant-based meat alternatives like tofu.
Van deMark acknowledged that people who eat out frequently could have a tough time following the updated guidelines.
“Not all restaurants will support this way of eating,” she said. “Often, the more you eat out, the more likely you are to eat processed food.”
Over at Neighbour to Neighbour Centre’s Community Food Centre on the west Mountain, Krista D’Aoust appreciates the new emphasis on healthy fruits and vegetables, plus varied protein and grain options, including non-meat items.
“There’s a great deal of option and room for diverse cultural cuisines in this revision,” said D’Aoust, the centre’s director of community food and family services.
“We’re really pleased that it speaks to the importance of cooking more at home, taking time to enjoy your food and eating with others. This really aligns with the values of Neighbour to Neighbour’s Hamilton Community Food Centre.”
D’Aoust said the centre staff members are seeing approximately 175 people coming out weekly to prepare healthy food and to share nutritious meals.
Unfortunately for many low-income earners, said D’Aoust, the cost of nutritious food can be a serious obstacle.
“There are all kinds of structural reasons why people can’t afford to eat healthy food, and don’t have time to prepare healthy meals at home. It’s hard to put a freshly-prepared meal on the table when parents are working, sometimes two jobs and struggling to make ends meet.”
D’Aoust estimates close to 100,000 (one in five) Hamiltonians lack reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.
“Food insecurity is still an important issue in our community, with serious physical and mental health implications,” said D’Aoust. “Everyone deserves a dignified seat at the table, and the option to make healthy food choices.”
– With files from Mark Newman