Sustainable living is gaining more recognition and popularity. As more and more people are working to improve their own health through nutrition and lifestyle changes, they are also considering how their choices are affecting the environment. By being more conscious of the foods you eat (or don’t eat), you can help your body and the planet get healthier.
What to eat to help your body and the planet get healthier
The USDA updates its guidelines on what’s healthy for Americans to eat and what’s not every five years. This year, for the first time, the USDA’s advisory panel recommended that those guidelines should also include sustainability. The government agency is being asked to factor in whether or not a food is good for the planet when deciding whether its healthy.
“It’s all connected – you can’t tackle hunger and obesity and the paradox of the obesity crisis among hungry children without tying it to food waste, the farm bill and how the food system has been set up in this country,” says Kate Geagan, a registered dietician and author of the book Go Green, Get Lean.
Consumers push for better options
According to Geagan, consumers are driving the push for dietary sustainability – and encouraging dietitians to get onboard. “Consumers aren’t just looking for what’s on the nutrition fact panel anymore – they have a whole list of other things they want to know about and how they define eating right,” she says.
Healthier for you, healthier for all
Appealing to the various drivers of people’s diet choices could help address not only the nation’s obesity problem, but also the environmental impacts of food production, even the stability of the food supply chain. For example, decreased consumption of meat could have a major impact on water usage. According to Arlin Wasserman, founder of food consultancy Changing Tastes, Americans currently get about 15% of their protein from plant-based sources. Shifting that to 25% could result in enough water savings to provide two-thirds of California’s water supply.
“It’s hard for people to get jazzed up about changing eating habits for a result they’ll see 10 years from now,” Geagan says. “But framing it as a more immediate payoff or benefit – in terms of weight loss, health, energy, really focusing on the health benefit overlap of these issues, that’s where I think health professionals can really add value to the conversation.”
Interested in a diet that’s as good for the planet as it is for you?
thumbnail courtesy of theguardian.com