n 2016, the theme of International Dietitians' Day was sustainable eating. To help celebrate, I wrote the article below on how to choose foods with the planet in mind (original version of the article published in Keeping On magazine February 2016).
Top Tips For Sustainable Eating
Most of us are well aware that our food choices affect our health, but it can be easy to forget that they also have an impact on our planet. Luckily, eating healthily and sustainably go hand-in-hand.
Sustainable eating means choosing foods that are healthy for our environment, ourselves, and our communities. Try these ideas to get started:
1) Eat fresh foods with little/no packaging
Buying foods without packaging helps to reduce waste. Many healthy foods such as fresh vegetables and fruit naturally come package-free. Bring your own reusable bags to the supermarket, and wherever possible recycle packaging such as cans and glass bottles.
2) Eat local and seasonal foods
Eating locally helps to minimize the energy used in transportation and storage. When foods are in-season, they are also at their peak in quality and freshness. Studies have shown that locally grown foods are higher in some vitamins and minerals. As a bonus, they're also usually less expensive. Buying locally grown foods can also help support small farmers and community businesses.
3 ) Eat mostly plant-based foods
Making half your plate vegetables and fruit is part of a healthy diet and will help keep the planet healthy too. Planning meals around plant foods and limiting meat intake can help lower your risk of heart disease and some types of cancer. This will also help lower the environmental cost associated with animal farming. Try including plant-based proteins a couple times per week (such as beans, lentils, and nuts). These are also higher in fibre and lower in saturated fat.
4) Try growing your own food
Have a green thumb? Try adding vegetables and herbs to your garden. You'll probably enjoy them more because of the hard work that went into them. Don't have the space? That's ok. There are lots of neighbourhood gardens around Ottawa. Try searching "Ottawa Community Gardens" to find one near you.
5) Eat mindfully
Mindful eating means giving our full attention to the experience of eating. It can make eating more enjoyable, and it can also be a step towards eating more sustainably. Paying attention to what we’re eating and where our food comes from may be the nudge we need to start making changes.
Happy Dietitians Day!