Belgium’s food guide has some bad news for those who love processed meats such as sausage and bacon.
The “Nutritional Triangle,” developed by the Flemish Institute of Healthy Life, places processed meats in the same section as cake, sugar-rich drinks, alcohol and french fries.
It explains that all of the items in the category are “ultra-processed foods.” They’re not needed for a healthy, balanced diet, and can even be detrimental to health.
“Almost everyone already succumbs to these pleasures,” the food guide’s website states, adding that indulging in them should only be done once in a while.
Canadian nutritionist Anar Allidina said the decision to add processed meat in the same category as other processed foods is a smart move.
“These kinds of foods can impact our health in the long run,” she explained.
Several studies, including reports from the World Health Organization, have warned that processed meat can increase the risk of cancer.
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The food guide recommends meat lovers opt for white meat over red, and always choose cuts that are fresh and lean. It adds that sausage, hamburger and minced meat usually have more fat.
“If you’re having meat, you don’t want it to be processed,” Allidina said.
Those who eat red meat can consume two servings (4 to 6 ounces each) per week, the nutritionist explained, adding that lean cuts that end with “loin” are healthier options.
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The food guide also offers advice on healthy dietary option in the shape of an inverted pyramid.
It places water in its separate category at the very top. Vegetables and fruits appear next, followed by legumes, tofu, carbohydrates such as whole grain bread and potatoes, and oil and nuts.
The third level of the pyramid includes fish, milk, cheese, eggs and chicken. In the final category is places red meat and fat such as butter.
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Canada’s food guide is currently in the process of being revamped.
According to some draft “guiding principles” that were posted by Health Canada in June, the updates will revolve around planning and preparing healthier meals, with more plant-based products.
The guiding principles also indicate the updates will touch on limiting the intake of processed food.
Allidina said she hopes the new food guide will follow in Belgium’s steps when it comes to discouraging processed meat, and offering specific advice.
“A lot of food guides are very vague. I think this one’s going to be more specific.”