We’ve gone pretty deep into different aspects of nutrition and sustainability, so in this article, we’ll sum up some takeaways from previous tips, and look into how we can design our meals to benefit ourselves while taking care of the planet:
Go crazy with vegetables and fruits - aim for 1/2 of your plate
Vegetables are packed with essential nutrients and fiber, at a very low caloric cost. Aim for color and variety.
Stay sustainable: Try to go for in-season, locally grown produce, but keep in mind that you may have to do some research on a case by case basis to find the most sustainable source possible in your area.
Carb up - aim for 1/4 plate of healthy carbohydrates
Whole grains and vitamin-packed starches provide you with important amino acids and energy while having a smaller impact on your blood sugar than their refined counterparts.
You can adjust these guidelines according to whatever dietary limitations you have; if you’re celiac or are struggling with low insulin sensitivity, you should tailor your carb consumption around it.
Stay sustainable: Since they are so energy-dense and require comparatively few resources to grow, most grains are very environmentally friendly. But do keep in mind that unlimited consumption of certain grains, like rice and quinoa, does have an environmental and social impact.
Pile on some protein - aim for 1/4 plate of high-quality protein
Protein plays a vital role in the function of your body, and lentils, beans, fish and nuts are all great sources. Many proteins, like nuts, fish, and seeds will also provide you with healthy fats. Keep in mind that different protein sources contain different compositions of essential amino acids, so try to keep your proteins varied to make sure you’re covered, especially if you focus on plant-based proteins.
Stay Sustainable: Meat agriculture is one of the biggest climate sinners today, so try to replace animal-based proteins with plant-based alternatives when possible. Nuts, seeds, and legumes are healthy and sustainable alternatives.
Don’t be scared of fats - only trans fats (a little)
The right kinds of fats, mostly those from plants (nuts, seeds, plant oil) and marine sources, are essential for our survival. Trans fats, the processed fats found in fast food and other processed treats, should be minimized. Fish and roe contain high amounts of easily absorbable Omega 3 acids, but you can also get a less absorbable version from plants.
Stay Sustainable: If you want to incorporate fish into your diet because of the health benefits, try to make sure you’re buying from certified sources that don’t deplete seas and damage ecosystems.
Following this model (50% vegetables, 25% proteins, and 25% carbohydrates) you’ll have an easier time getting the variety of nutrients you need to function properly. Due to the high amounts of fiber and volume in vegetables, you’ll be less likely to overeat, and since nothing is off bounds, you can follow this on a day to day basis and indulge in treats when a meaningful occasion arises.
When we know what impact the food we eat has on our bodies, it’s interesting to see that many of the nutritional habits that are good for us seem to be symbiotic with the health of the planet. With this symbiosis in mind, we have an opportunity to feel a broader sense of well being when we eat healthy foods that nourish us knowing we’re not putting a needless strain on the world around us.