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SECTION 3: FOOD AND BEVERAGE CHOICE TABLES

Food and beverage choices are divided into tables based on Canada’s Food Guide food groups: Vegetables and Fruit, Grain Products, Milk and Alternatives, and Meat and Alternatives.

In each food group table, food choices are categorized as “Serve” or “Do Not Serve”.

There is also a table for “Minor Ingredients”. Minor ingredients are foods that do not fit into any of Canada’s Food Guide food groups.

DEFINITIONS

SERVE

Foods in this category:

DO NOT SERVE

Foods in this category:

NOTE: The Food and Beverage Choice Tables are not complete lists. If you have a question about a food item not on the list, contact your SNP Lead Agency or local public health unit.

Good to Know!

When preparing mixed dishes, main ingredients should come from the "Serve" category.

Nutrition labelling is information found on the labels of prepackaged foods. It includes the Nutrition Facts table and ingredient list. Use the information found there to choose foods to “Serve”.

Nutrition Facts

INGREDIENTS: WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, VEGETABLE OIL, SUGAR, SALT, BAKING SODA, PEANUTS

The first ingredient on grain products must be whole grain or whole wheat.

VEGETABLES AND FRUITS

Serve Vegetables and Fruit at every breakfast/morning meal, lunch and snack.

  SERVE DO NOT SERVE
FRESH, FROZEN, CANNED AND DRIED VEGETABLES AND FRUIT

Examples:

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Frozen fruit and vegetables with no added sugar, salt or sauce
  • Unsweetened fruit sauce or fruit blends
  • Canned fruit in water
  • Canned fruit in juice or light syrup, drained
  • Canned vegetables, low in sodium or no added salt or sauce
  • Canned vegetables, drained
  • Potatoes, boiled, baked or mashed
  • Canned tomatoes and tomato–based pasta/pizza sauces, low in sodium
  • 100% vegetable juice, low in sodium
  • Dried fruit
  • Salsa

Examples:

  • Fruit flavoured drinks such as fruit beverages, punches, cocktails
  • Unpasteurized juice or cider
  • Fruit leathers
  • Canned fruit in heavy syrup
  • Sweetened applesauce or fruit purées
  • Packaged potato products (e.g., french fries, hash browns)
  • Battered or deep fried vegetables or fruit
  • Jellied desserts that contain fruit
  • Fruit snacks (e.g., gummies, fruit rolls) including those made with juice
  • Vegetable and fruit chips (e.g., potato, carrot, banana)
  • Canned vegetable soup, canned tomatoes and tomato-based pasta/pizza sauces that are not low in sodium
  • Cream based vegetable soups
  • Raw sprouts (e.g., alfalfa sprouts, bean sprouts, clover, radish and mung beans)

What about fruit juice?

Although 100% fruit juice has no sugar added, it is high in sugar. It should be served occasionally. Whole fruits and vegetables are a better choice; they give more nutrition and fibre, and keep children and youth satisfied longer. If you decide to serve 100% fruit juice, limit to a ½ cup (125 ml) per child or youth, per week.

Good to Know!

Dried fruit is nutritious. It is also high in natural sugar and sticks to teeth, which can cause cavities. To protect teeth, serve dried fruit as part of a meal with water, crunchy fruits and vegetables, or cheddar cheese2.

GRAIN PRODUCTS

  SERVE DO NOT SERVE
BREAD PRODUCTS

Whole grain or whole wheat is first on ingredient list.

Examples:

  • Whole grain or whole wheat breads, buns, bagels, rolls, English muffins, pitas, tortilla, flatbreads, roti, naan, bannock
  • Whole grain or whole wheat pancakes or waffles
  • Whole grain or whole wheat pizza crust or dough

Whole grain or whole wheat is not first on ingredient list and has added sugar.

Examples:

  • Enriched wheat flour or multigrain bread, bagel, buns, English muffins, pancakes, waffles and tortillas
  • Flavoured or sugar coated breads, naan and bagels (e.g., cinnamon, raisin, blueberry)
  • White pizza crust or dough including frozen/purchased pizza
READY-TO-EAT COLD AND HOT CEREALS

Whole grain, whole wheat or bran is first on ingredient list and sugar ≤ 8 g per 30 g serving.

Examples:

  • Oatmeal (e.g., quick cooking or large flake)
  • Instant oatmeal
  • Some cold/dry cereals

Whole grain, whole wheat or bran is not first on ingredient list and sugar ˃ 8 g per 30 g serving.

Examples:

  • Cereal with chocolate, candies, marshmallows or sugar-coated pieces
  • Pre-packaged sweetened oatmeal
BAKED GOODS

Whole grain, whole wheat or bran is first on ingredient list and sugar ≤ 8 g per 30 g serving.

Examples:

  • Granola or cereal-type bars without chocolate, candy or marshmallows or dipped in chocolate or yogurt
  • Muffins, scones, biscuits, and cookies

Whole grain, whole wheat or bran is not first on ingredient list and sugar ˃ 8 g per 30 g serving.

Examples:

  • Chocolate or yogurt dipped granola or cereal-type bars or those containing marshmallows, candy or chocolate pieces
  • Toaster pastries, pastries, croissants
  • Muffins, scones, biscuits, and cookies with chocolate, caramel or candy
  • Cakes, cupcakes, donuts, pies and squares
GRAIN-BASED SNACKS

Whole grain or whole wheat is first on ingredient list.

Examples:

  • Whole grain crackers, breadsticks
  • Popcorn (air popped, unsalted, no butter)
  • Brown rice cakes
  • Tortilla chips, low in sodium or unsalted

Whole grain or whole wheat is not first on ingredient list and has added sugar and/or salt.

Examples:

  • Non-air popped popcorn (e.g., microwaveable popcorn) and/or popcorn with added flavours
  • Pretzels
  • Tortilla chips not low in sodium
  • Pita chips
  • Chip-like snack foods (including seasoned mini-rice cakes, nachos)
PASTA, RICE AND OTHER GRAINS

Whole grain or whole wheat is first on ingredient list.

Examples:

  • Whole grains (e.g.,quinoa, oats, bulgur, buckwheat, whole wheat couscous)
  • Brown rice, wild rice
  • Whole wheat or whole grain pasta
  • Polenta

Whole grain or whole wheat is not first on ingredient list and has added sugar and/or salt.

Examples:

  • White rice (converted, parboiled), rice noodles and enriched white pasta
  • Instant or flavoured, pre-packaged grains, rice and pasta (e.g., garlic, herb, chicken, vegetable, macaroni and cheese)
  • Instant noodle soup

Good to Know!

On an ingredient list, whole grains could be written as: whole grain whole wheat, cracked wheat, wheat berries, whole grain rye, barley, wild or whole grain brown rice, bulgur, whole oats, rolled oats, whole grain couscous, flaxseed, kamut, amaranth, millet, quinoa, sorghum, spelt, buckwheat, corn, corn meal and whole triticale.

Use the Nutrition Facts table on food packaging to determine whether the grain product has 8 grams of sugar or less per 30 g serving.

Foods that have less than or equal to 140 mg of sodium per reference amount are considered low in sodium. Check the Nutrition Facts table to find out how much sodium is in the food.

MILK AND ALTERNATIVES

Serve Milk and Alternatives at every breakfast/morning meal and lunch.

  SERVE DO NOT SERVE
MILK AND MILK ALTERNATIVE BEVERAGES

Examples:

  • Plain skim, 1%, 2% or 3.25% cow’s milk
  • Skim milk or partly skimmed milk powder
  • Canned, evaporated milk, used in cooking and baking
  • Buttermilk, used in cooking and baking
  • Unsweetened, fortified soy beverage

Examples:

  • Unfortified soy beverage
  • Hot chocolate
  • Milkshakes
  • Plant-based beverages (e.g., coconut, rice, almond, potato milk/beverages) A
  • Table cream , coffee cream, whipping cream, non-dairy whipped cream toppings
  • Unpasteurized milk (e.g., raw milk)
YOGURT

Examples:

  • Plain or flavoured yogurt, soy yogurt and kefir
  • Flavoured yogurt tubes
  • Drinkable yogurt

Examples:

  • Yogurts with candy/chocolate toppings
  • Frozen yogurt
  • Yogurts made from unpasteurized milk
CHEESE

Examples:

  • Hard and soft, non-processed cheese made from pasteurized milk (e.g., cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan, monterey jack, havarti, gouda, swiss, feta, ricotta, cottage cheese)
  • Cheese strings, cheese curds

Examples:

  • Processed cheese slices
  • Cheese made from unpasteurized milk
  • Soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk (e.g., brie, camembert, and blue-veined cheese like roquefort and gorgonzola

What about flavoured milk/soy beverage?

Although flavoured milk (i.e., chocolate milk) and flavoured soy beverage may contain important nutrients like calcium and protein, they also are high in added sugar. If you decide to serve either of these beverages, limit to 1 cup (250 ml) per child or youth, per week.

Good to Know!

If you choose soy beverage, make sure that they are “fortified” or “enriched.” That means vitamins and minerals have been added. If it’s not fortified, it is not as nutritious.

Use the Nutrition Facts table to compare yogurt products and choose the ones with lower amounts of sugar.

MEAT AND ALTERNATIVES

  SERVE DO NOT SERVE
EGGS

Examples:

  • ‘Graded’ eggs
  • Plain liquid egg product
  • Pre-boiled eggs

Examples:

  • Seasoned or flavoured liquid egg product
  • Unpasteurized eggs
  • Raw or lightly cooked eggs and egg dishes that contain undercooked eggs such mousse, dressings, and sauces made on-site
NUTS, B LEGUME BUTTERS AND SEEDS

Examples:

  • Nut, B legume, and seed butters, including peanut, almond, walnut, sesame, sunflower, pea and soy butters
  • Whole nuts B and seeds (plain, unsalted)

Examples:

  • Nut, B legume or seed butters that have added flavours (e.g., chocolate, chocolate hazelnut, honey, berry)
  • Salted or coated nuts B or seeds
OTHER MEAT ALTERNATIVES SUCH AS TOFU, BEANS AND LENTILS

Examples:

  • Hummus or other bean dips
  • Dried beans, lentils, peas
  • Canned beans, lentils, chickpeas, drained and rinsed or low in sodium
  • Tofu, tempeh, textured vegetable protein
  • Veggie burgers and meatballs C

Examples:

  • Canned baked beans, in tomato sauce, with pork, molasses or maple syrup
  • Store-bought breaded and fried meat alternatives
  • Simulated meat strips, imitation bacon bits
  • Meatless hot dogs, sausages, bacon
  • Frozen and prepared tacos/burritos
FISH 3

Examples:

  • Fresh, frozen, or canned fish low in mercury D (e.g., cod, sole, haddock, salmon, tilapia, trout, canned light tuna, whitefish) with no breading, sauces, salt or seasonings unless added on-site

Examples:

  • Store-bought breaded or battered fried fish
  • Fresh, frozen or canned fish high in mercury D(e.g., canned albacore tuna)
  • Cold smoked fish
  • Raw seafood or shellfish
MEAT

Examples:

Plain, E fresh, frozen or pre-cooked:

  • Chicken, turkey, lamb, lean beef, pork
  • Ground meat and poultry (e.g., beef, turkey, chicken, pork, lamb)
  • Meatballs
  • Hamburger patties
  • Rotisserie-style chicken
  • Traditional meats and wild game

Examples:

  • Store-bought breaded or battered fried chicken or other meat
  • Prepared/cured meats (e.g., wieners/hot dogs), sausages, pepperette meat sticks
  • Prepared/cured meats with added sauces
  • Deli meats (e.g., bologna, salami, macaroni and cheese loaf, summer sausage, deli roast beef, turkey and chicken)
  • Ham
  • Ribs
  • Bacon, turkey and chicken bacon, bacon bits, imitation bacon bits
  • Frozen and prepared meat pies
  • Raw or undercooked meat or poultry

OTHER FOODS

DO NOT SERVE LOW-NUTRIENT FOODS AND BEVERAGESF

Examples:

MINOR INGREDIENTS

Minor ingredients do not count towards food group choices. The following items can be used in small amounts and served on the side when necessary, or used in the preparation of mixed dishes.

Examples: