What is sustainable eating?
Sustainable eating refers to selecting meals that are beneficial for both our bodies and the environment.
Sustainable eating refers to thinking carefully about what you consume and put in your body and ensuring that it supports your social philosophy.
Dietary habits that are better for you and the environment are getting more and more popular. Food sustainability is about more than just the food itself. It depends on a number of variables, including the food’s production, distribution, packaging, and consumption. Food miles, or the distance a food has travelled, are important. However, it is much more intricate than that. There are a variety of other things to take into account when thinking about food sustainability, eating fewer animal foods and more plant-derived foods including vegetables, fruit, pulses, and wholegrains are universally acknowledged.
Impact of sustainable diets
The objectives of sustainable healthy diets are to support functioning and physical, mental, and social wellbeing at all stages of life for both the present and future generations, to promote optimal growth and development in all people, to support functioning and prevent all types of malnutrition (such as undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, overweight, and obesity), to lower the risk of diet-related NCDs, and to promote the preservation of biodiversity and planetary health. To prevent unexpected repercussions, sustainable healthy diets must incorporate all aspects of sustainability.
Principles for Healthy, Sustainable Diets
- Foods that are unprocessed or slightly processed make up a large portion of sustainable healthy diets, which also limit the consumption of heavily processed food and drink items.
- Wholegrains, legumes, nuts, and an abundance and variety of fruits and vegetables are all part of a sustainable healthy diet.
- A sustainable healthy diet can contain small amounts of red meat, as well as moderate amounts of eggs, dairy, poultry, and fish.
- In a sustainable healthy diet, the preferred fluid is safe, clean water.
- Pathogens, toxins, and other substances that can result in foodborne illness are present at the lowest possible amounts, if not absent altogether, in sustainable healthy diets.
- Early breastfeeding initiation, exclusive nursing during the first six months of life, continuous breastfeeding for the next two years and beyond, along with the proper supplementary feeding, are the foundations of a sustainable healthy diet.
- Sustainable healthy diets are in line with WHO recommendations for lowering the risk of diet-related NCDs and ensuring the general population’s health and wellbeing.
- Sustainable healthy diets are sufficient in energy and nutrients for growth and development as well as to satisfy the requirements for an active and healthy existence throughout the lifespan
- Sustainable healthy diets are available, enticing, and they minimise food loss and waste.
TIPS FOR SUSTAINABLE EATING
- Mindful eating: Practice mindful eating; it’s one of the simplest things you can do to eat more sustainably. You might consider how your food is sustaining your body and where it comes from by concentrating on what you’re consuming. Additionally, if you pay attention to your hunger cues, you can discover that you don’t require as much food as you initially believed and adjust the quantity of your meals. We may change our food consumption, lessen food waste, and be inspired to look for more sustainable food sources if we pay more attention to how we eat and consider the “larger picture.”
- Give plants priority: In order to maintain a healthy diet, the Healthy Eating Plate recommends that you fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables. However, preparing our meals with produce like produce cabbage beets also benefits the environment. Changing to a more plant-based diet will lessen freshwater withdrawals and deforestation, benefiting both the environment and our own health.
- Cut back on red meat: Red meat consumption should be reduced. Beef production in particular contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, and the environmental burden is exacerbated by the fact that producing and transporting animals uses more resources than growing plants, including food, water, land, and energy. We should think about choosing non-meat proteins like nuts and legumes if we want to eat for both our health and the health of the world.
- Choose fresh seafood: Fish can be a beneficial addition to a balanced diet when consumed in moderation, but some species are at risk of being overfished or produced in methods that affect the marine ecosystem. If the fish you usually eat is on the “avoid” list, think about trying some different seafood.
- Look regional: You may get locally grown fresh produce at farmers markets, but meeting the people who make your food is just as important. You can understand how your food was grown, when it was collected, and even how to prepare it through such partnerships.
It’s difficult to define dietary sustainability. The overall recommendations call for consuming less meat, dairy, seafood, and packaged foods.
A sustainable diet emphasises consuming more entire plant foods. Though in far smaller amounts, people may still opt to consume animal products.
Anyone considering changing to a more sustainable diet should think about what diet they would be most likely to follow and start by taking baby steps.