March is Nutrition Month. Unlock the Potential of Food
- Written by Lynne Lafave
March is Nutrition Month – drawing attention to the connection between food and health. Eating sustainably is an important connection to health
What does it mean to eat sustainably?
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations offers the following definition1
Sustainable diets are those diets with low environmental impacts that contribute to food and nutrition security and to healthy life for present and future generations. Sustainable diets support biodiversity and ecosystems while also respecting culture, accessibility, affordability, nutritional adequacy, and safety to support human health.
Here are 6 tips to help eat more sustainably:
1. Eat more plants and less meat
Compared to animal-based foods, plant-based foods require less land, energy and water to produce.2 Eating plant-based foods represents a way to eat more sustainably and have the added benefit of being healthy sources of protein, vitamins, minerals, and fibre – not to mention being easier on your wallet.
2. Purchase foods with minimal packaging
Conventional food production that uses typical packaging and distribution has been tied to an environmental burden.3 By purchasing foods with minimal packaging you reduce the stress on waste management services and manufacturers may be influenced to change their practices to address consumer preferences.
3. Buy foods in season and shop locally when possible
The distance food is transported is hard on the environment – fuel and food maintenance costs during transportation take a toll on the environment.3 It is less resource-intensive to produce foods during their natural growing season, and when you buy locally, you support the economic sustainability of your local community.
4. Waste less food
When we throw away food, we are throwing away natural resources and money.1 Consider decreasing food waste by:
i) Planning meals and incorporating any foods you already have in the fridge and pantry to reduce waste.
ii) Using frozen foods more often. One of the benefits of frozen foods is that you can use just as much as you need for a recipe.
ii) Use leftovers to create new meals and reduce waste.
Check out our CHEERS Blog “Food Education Through Food Scraps” for some ideas on how to engage preschoolers in the goal of eating sustainably!
5. Drink tap water
Drinking tap water, when the tap water is safe to drink, instead of bottled is an easy way to make an environmentally friendly choice. This reduces single-use plastic and minimizes emissions used to transport heavy bottled liquids.4
6. Grow your own food
Growing your own food is a great way to learn about food and sustainability.2 Kids love to help in the garden and watch how food grows.
Check out our CHEERS Blog “Creating an Engaged Eating Environment: 7 Tips for Gardening with Young Children” for some ideas.
Eating more sustainably is a responsibility for citizens of our plant and there are steps you can take today. By eating more plant-based, choosing foods with minimal packaging, buying local food in season, reducing food waste, drinking tap water, and starting a small garden, you can be on your way to eating more sustainably.
Sustainable eating is a commitment to human health for today and for generations to come.
How can a dietitian help?
A dietitian can work with you to personalize an eating plan that is right for you. Dietitians consider many things when providing advice, like your personal goals, culture, budget, medical history and sustainability. Connect with a Dietitian today!
- Gold, K., & McBurney, R. P. H. (2010). Sustainable diets and biodiversity: Directions and solutions for policy, research and action. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy, 108-114.
- Dietitians of Canada (2023) How Can I Eat a More Sustainable Diet? UnlockFood.ca Retrieved March 12, 2023, from https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/How-Can-I-Eat-a-More-Sustainable-Diet
- Soto, N.S. (2021). Sustainable Food and Eco-Friendly Food Packaging. Green Business Bureau. Retrieved March 12, 2023 from https://greenbusinessbureau.com
- Pettinger, C. (2018). Sustainable eating: Opportunities for nutrition professionals. Nutrition Bulletin, 43(3), 226-237
- World Wildlife Fund (n.d.) Six tips to help you eat more sustainably. Retrieved March 12, 2023, from https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/six-tips-help-you-eat-more-sustainably.