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Step up to a Healthier You with the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit

Healthy Eating

Food Guide Servings

A Food Guide Serving is a reference amount of food. It helps you understand how much food you should eat every day from each of the four food groups. Keep in mind, in some cases a Food Guide Serving may be close to what you eat, for example an apple. In other cases, such as rice or pasta, you may have more than one Food Guide Serving.

The recommended number of Food Guide Servings chart shows how much food you need from each of the four food groups every day. To see how much food you need in a day, look for your age and sex on the Recommended Number of Food Guide Servings chart below. The recommended number of Food Guide Servings is an average amount that you should try to eat each day. If you are very active and at a healthy weight may need to have extra Food Guide Servings in order to meet your energy needs.

Canada's Food Guide

Make Your Servings Count

To get the right amounts of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients your body needs, you should choose from the foods listed below. This will reduce your risk of developing obesity, heart disease and certain types of cancer.

  • Eat at least one dark green and orange vegetable daily.You will receive the right amounts of Folate and vitamin A if you have one serving of a dark green vegetable and an orange vegetable every day. If you are having trouble having an orange vegetable every day, you can choose an orange coloured fruit such as apricots, cantaloupe, mango and papaya.
  • Have vegetables or fruit more often than juice. You will increase your fibre if you choose the actual fruit or vegetable more often than juice. You will also feel full and satisfied longer.
  • Choose vegetables and fruit prepared with little or no added fat, sugar or salt. Vegetables and fruit are usually low in fat. If these foods are breaded, fried, served with cream based sauces, whipped cream and butter, their fat content will increase. French fries, onion rings and fruit in cream are higher fat choices, so you should not have these often. Try adding a small amount of olive oil to improve the flavour of salads and cooked vegetables. Frozen and canned vegetables, unsweetened frozen fruit and fruit in its own juice are a healthy option. Drain and rinse canned vegetables under cold running water for about fifteen minutes to reduce the salt content (sodium). 
  • Choose grains products that are lower in fat, sugar and salt. Baked goods such as cakes, croissants, doughnuts, pastries, pies, cookies and muffins have added fat, sugar and salt, so these types of foods should be limited. Also limit the amount of fat added to breads, pastas or when you cook or bake.
  • Make at least half of your grains a whole grain. Whole grains are a source of fibre and usually are low in fat. Foods high in fibre may help you feel full and satisfied longer as well as reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
  • Drink skim, 1% or 2% milk each day. Low fat milk(skim, 1% M.F. or 2% M.F.) provides protein, fat, calcium, vitamin A, D and B12, riboflavin, zinc, magnesium and potassium which are needed for the development of strong bones and reducing the risk of osteoporosis. If, you do not consume cow’s milk, fortified soya beverage can be used as a replacement. Rice, potato and almond beverages do not contain adequate amounts of protein so therefore cannot be used as a replacement for milk or fortified soya beverages.
  • Select lower fat milk alternatives. Choose lower fat yogurt (2% M. F. Milk Fat or less) and lower fat cheese (15 to 20% M. F. or less) because regular fat yogurt and cheese are high in fat, saturated fat and calories.
  • Have meat alternatives such as beans, lentils and tofu often. To lower the amount of saturated fat that we eat, Canada’s Food Guide suggest to regularly choose beans and other meat alternatives such as lentils and tofu more often. Legumes (beans, peas and lentils) are an excellent source of folate and fibre.
  • Eat at least two Food Guide Servings of fish each week. It is recommended that people eat at least 150 grams (5 ounces) of fish each week. All fish contain some amount of omega 3 fatty acids which can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Select lean meat and alternatives prepared with little or no added fat or salt. To limit the amount of saturated fat, Canada’s Food Guide recommends eating lean or extra lean cuts of meat and skinless poultry. Try to stay away from meat, poultry and fish that are deep fried, served with gravy or other high fat sauces as well as luncheon meats, processed meats and sausages. When preparing meat, fish or poultry, Canada’s Food Guide recommends baking, broiling, poaching or roasting to allow fat to drip off and away.
  • Include a small amount of unsaturated fat each day. Our body needs a small amount of fat to supply calories and helps us to absorb fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. It is recommended to include 30 to 45ml (2 to 3 Tbsp) of unsaturated fat each day. This includes oil used in cooking, salad dressing, margarine and mayonnaise.
  • Satisfy your thirst with water. It is suggested that people drink water regularly to satisfy their thirst and promote hydration without adding extra calories. Throughout the day, our bodies lose water and this water must be replaced or it can lead to fatigue, weakness, headaches, irritability, dizziness and impaired performance. Limit beverages such as alcoholic drinks, energy drinks and sweetened hot or cold beverages as these beverages are high in calories and low in nutrients.

Source: Eating Well With Canada’s Food Guide. A resource for educators and communicators. Published by Health Canada, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K9, 2007.

What is one Food Guide Serving

CarrotsVegetables and Fruit

  • 125ml (1/2 cup) fresh, frozen or canned vegetables
  • 30ml (2 tbsp) of dried fruit
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) of 100% juice
  • 1 fruit/125ml of fresh, frozen or canned fruit

Half a bagel on a plateGrain Products

  • 1 slice of bread
  • 1/2 of a bagel
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) of cooked rice or bulgur
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) of cooked pasta or couscous
  • 3/4 cup of hot cereal
  • 30 grams of cold cereal

A Glass of
milk, half fullMilk and Alternatives

  • 250ml (1 cup) of milk/fortified soy beverage
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) of canned milk
  • 175g (3/4 cup) yogurt
  • 50g (1 1/2 ounces) of cheese


Meat and Alternatives

    A serving of fish with asparagus
  • 75g (2 1/2 ounces) of cooked fish poultry, lean meat or shellfish
  • 150g (3/4 cup) of tofu
  • 2 eggs
  • 30ml (2 tbsp) of peanut/nut butter
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) of nuts or seeds

Other recommendations from Canada’s Food Guide

  • Enjoy a variety of foods from the four food groups.
  • This will ensure you are receiving the correct amount of nutrients your body needs.
  • Everyone over the age of 50 years should take a daily Vitamin D supplement of 10μg (400IU).
  • Over the age of 50, our vitamin D need increases and is higher than the amount obtained by following the Canada’s Food Guide. For older adults, vitamin D intake is also associated with higher bone mineral density, improved muscle strength, reduced falling and fracture rates and improved mobility.