Planning Meals using Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide

Posted: Feb 6, 2013

Good nutrition is important at every age. Eating well will help you feel your best every day and can help prevent heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and some types of cancer.
Aging affects nutrition. As you get older, you need to eat less food (fewer calories) but you need the same amount, or even more, of certain vitamins and minerals.To get the food and nutrients you need, plan your meals using Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide

Planning Meals

  • Plan for three meals and one to three small snacks each day. Skipping any meal, but especially skipping breakfast, will make it difficult to get all the nutrients you need each day.
  • Choose foods from the four food groups at each meal.
  • Plan your meals around vegetables and fruit, These foods should cover about half of your plate. The remaining half of the plate should be:
    •  ¼ grain products such as brown rice or whole grain pasta
    •  ¼ protein-rich foods such as dairy products, chicken, fish, meat, tofu, eggs or beans.

Vegetables and Fruit


7 servings per day
Choose dark green, bright yellow and orange vegetables and fruit more often as they contain the most nutrients. Try spinach, broccoli, carrots, squash, oranges, cantaloupe and peaches.
Examples of one serving

  • 1 medium sized piece of fruit or vegetable (e.g. apple, banana, carrot).
  • 125 mL (½ cup) fresh, frozen or canned fruit or vegetables.
  • 125 mL (½ cup) cooked leafy vegetables.
  • 250 mL (1 cup) raw leafy vegetables.
  • 125 mL (½ cup) fruit or vegetable juice.

Grain Products

6-7 servings per day
Grains provide you with energy, fibre and some important vitamins and minerals. At least half of your daily grain choices should come from whole grain products, such as oatmeal, brown rice, whole grain wheat, pot barley, bulgur or buckwheat.
Examples of one serving

  • 1 slice of bread.
  • half a bun, bagel, pita, tortilla or naan bread.
  • 30 grams cold cereal. That’s about 1 cup depending on type of cereal. Check the food label.
  • 175 mL (¾ cup) cup hot cereal.
  • 125 mL (½ cup) pasta or rice.
  • 1 medium (35 grams) bannock.

Milk and Alternatives

3 servings per day
Milk products contain calcium and vitamin D, important for keeping your bones healthy. Choose lower fat milk products more often.
Examples of one serving

  • 250 mL (1 cup) skim, 1% or 2% milk, or fortified soy beverage.
  • 50 g (1 ½ oz) cheese.
  • 175 mL (3/4 cup) of yogurt or kefir.

Meat and Alternatives

2 to 3 servings per day
Meat and Alternatives are good sources of protein, iron and B, vitamins that are key for keeping  your muscles  strong and your immune system healthy. Choose lean meats, fish and poultry, and alternatives such as dried beans, lentils and peas more often.
Examples of one serving

  • 75 g (2 ½ oz) meat, fish or poultry (about the size of a deck of cards).
  • 175 mL (3/4 cup) tofu or cooked beans, chickpeas or lentils.
  • 2 eggs.
  • 30 mL (2 tbsp) peanut butter.
  • 60 mL (1/4 cup) shelled nuts and seeds.

Oils and Fats

Include a small amount (30-45 mL or 2-3 tbsp) of unsaturated fats each day. Examples of unsaturated fats are oil (such as canola, olive or soy), salad dressing, non-hydrogenated margarine and mayonnaise.
Limit butter, hard margarine, lard and shortening, which are higher in saturated fat and/or trans fat.

Other foods

Limit foods and beverages that are high in calories, fat, sugar and salt, such as: jam, candies, chocolate, cakes, pies, pastries, cookies, deep-fried foods, fast foods, chips and pretzels.


Fluids are essential to life, yet many seniors do not drink enough. As we age, our sense of thirst declines so we need to drink regularly whether we feel thirsty or not. To stay hydrated, sip fluids often during the day and with each meal and snack. Satisfy your thirst with water first, but remember that juice, milk, soup, tea and coffee also count towards your total fluid intake.
Canada’s Food Guide suggests adults age 50+ take a daily vitamin D supplement of 15 μg (600 IU). Talk to your doctor, registered dietitian or pharmacist before taking any other supplements since they may interfere with some medications.
You can get a copy of Canada’s Food Guide by calling 1 800 622-6232) or by visiting


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