Personalize your colour-coded food guide

John Gushue
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After years of research and review, the federal government recently overhauled that famous colour-coded rainbow that is Canadas Food Guide and it looks, from a distance, quite a bit like the old one.

There are changes, however, and one of them is a tool that enables Canadians to build a guide suited to their individual needs.

My Food Guide

The URL for this site is all too typically for the federal government way, way too long for anyone to remember (consider the entry that follows for an interesting comparison).

If you lose it, just do a search for Canadas Food Guide.

When you get there, look for the My Food Guide button to find this feature, which streamlines a wealth of nutritional advice and information into a handy, portable package.

This is a useful tool, and one that I think could work for anyone especially if, like me, youre someone looking to your own eating habits but also mindful of what your kids are (and are not) eating.

Heres how it works: you pick some personal details (your gender and age no identifying material is required), and then follow the steps to create your own guide.

Youre prompted to pick some suggestions from menus of fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products, meats and alternatives.

My main quibble is this: you are limited to only six picks for fruits and vegetables.

At our house, were always, always trying to get our son to eat fruits and vegetables that go beyond apple juice and broccoli (and friends tell me I should be grateful he eats the latter).

My Food Guide sets a limit of six suggestions; I would much prefer a longer list, just so I could point to it and say, See. Daddy is not making this up!

Anyway, once youve made your picks, you wind up with a PDF suitable for printing and framing or, more appropriately, putting underneath a bunch of fridge magnets.

Suggested ways to exercise and burn calories can be added, and they cant hurt either.

My Food Pyramid

The U.S. counterpart to Canadas Food Guide is the Food Pyramid, which is based on similar principles. Good, solid nutritional advice applies across the border, so the tools here can be used too. I particularly like the idea of the meal tracker, a printable worksheet that makes it a little bit easier to keep up-to-date with your nutritional goals.

The site is also richer in content and options than the Canadian model, including a game tailored for kids (but one like broccoli they may not necessarily pursue on their own).

Elsewhere this week

Rant Like Rick

Earlier this week, three students won free tuition at Memorial University for the coming year, all because they took the time to rant on videotape, a la the master of the walking tirade, Rick Mercer. You can see the three winners here.

Free Me

The folks behind Free Me intend to issue music, entertainment, software and bits of what they call culture all on a DVD to be given away for free. Given that I get free DVDs, samples and other stuff in the mail from marketing agencies, Im not instantly taken with the appeal of getting a DVD just because theres no cost to it.

However, the Free Me project is about free licensing; indeed, the actual content is kind of secondary to the point that its providers want to make. In any event, demand for the Free Me project evidently exceeded supply: instead of offering DVDs, theres a link for a free download, which, in this environmentally sensitive era, might be just as well. Check it out.

John Gushue is a news writer for in St. Johns. E-mail: Read past Surfs Up columns and daily updates at his blog:

Geographic location: U.S.

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