Five ways to eat better and care for the planet

World,Vegetable,Day,,Vegetable,On,The,World,,Fresh,Vegetable,,Vegan

We are all very much aware of the need to be more environmentally conscious, and this is becoming more critical than ever.  Equally, our health is very important too.  The great news is that we can look after both

The environment and our health are certainly linked and there a few things that you can do to support your diet and the planet.

Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her top five ways to eat for a healthier planet and body too!

 

Buy local

If you can, it’s always best to buy from your local farm shops or farmer’s markets.  This way, the carbon footprint of foods will be much reduced.  And whilst it’s not always easy to find organic fruits and vegetables (plus they are often more expensive), there’s no doubt that the less pesticides used on foods, the better for your body and the planet.

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Produce that has been mass-produced, shipped around the world, and then stored for long periods in supermarket warehouses, loses nutrient value.  The quicker the harvest to mouth the better, plus fruits and vegetables are much tastier when freshly eaten. Furthermore, you can generally buy these foods at local farmer’s markets or in farm shops free from plastic packaging which is also a massive plus for the environment.

Go for seasonal colour

Eating a diet that’s rich in colourful, in-season fruit and vegetables not only means you’re focussing on plant-based meals, but colour equals nutrients, which in turn brings better health.

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It’s not always easy to eat the recommended 5 portions of fruits and vegetables a day.  So, instead just look at the colour on your plate. Adding roasted veggies to a bowl of quinoa provides a colourful and highly nutritious meal which includes plenty of protein too.

Love your plants

There’s certainly been a massive increase in people opting for vegetarian and vegan diets.  Indeed, around 7.2 million people in the UK are currently following a meat-free diet.  There are also many more people following a flexitarian diet, meaning some meals are only plant-based and others contain products from animals.

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Whichever way we cut it, including more plant-based foods in the diet is great for the environment and the body too.  Just as one example, plant-based foods are rich in polyphenols; antioxidant-rich foods that are nutrient-dense.  Eating more plant-based meals is going to help the body to both fight illnesses and protect it from some of our most common degenerative diseases.

Foods such as beans and grains are high in fibre which not only helps with weight management but keeps the digestive system running smoothly too.  If you’re not quite ready to give up all animal produce, why not have at least three days a week of just eating plant-based foods?

Be sustainable

We hear the word ‘sustainable’ used very often.  It’s frequently associated with fresh fish and fish products.  Our fish stocks are diminishing, partly because they are not being caught in a sustainable way.  It’s important, therefore, to look for products and produce that are sustainable to protect food sources for future generations.

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The foods we eat, and how much we eat, directly affects food sustainability and as the population increases, demand will increase on food production. It’s also worth bearing in mind that beef and fish production produce many more greenhouse gases than certain plant-based foods, which is having a huge impact on the environment and, consequently, food sustainability.

The more mindful we can all be as individuals, and the more steps (however small) we each take, we can all make a difference to help future generations.

Eat as nature intended

One of the many issues associated with the typical western diet is that it is heavily processed.  This is not only bad for the environment, but also for the body.  Processed foods are lower in nutrients, have reduced fibre, and are often high in sugar, salt, and sweeteners.  This provides the body with more challenges when having to deal with chemically processed foods.

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The nearer we can eat foods to their natural state the better.  Try to plan meals using fresh ingredients in their natural state.  As an example, always choose whole grains rather than white processed ones such as white rice, white pasta, or white bread.  Include as many colourful fruits and vegetables as possible and steam or stir fry them. And resist buying ready meals which often contain additional ingredients which provide little nutritional benefit.

So, look after your body and the environment with a few simple tips for a more sustainable diet this season.

Stay well.

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All images: Shutterstock

 

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