Fuel for the Future: Eating with the Environment in Mind
In 1973, the American Dietetic Association established March as National Nutrition Month. This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the ADA commemorating National Nutrition Month!
Every year, the association reaches out to people from all cultures, income levels, and ages to educate and promote lasting healthy habits, with the goal of elevating the quality of life for both individuals and the communities we inhabit.
This year, the theme is “Fuel for the Future.” The ADA and I are here to help and support you through the cultivation of sustainable, environmentally friendly nutrition choices.
So, how can you fuel your future by “Eating with the Environment in Mind”?
1. Plant-based farming has been shown to have lower greenhouse emissions and water requirements than both animal-based farming and contemporary food processing.
Start incorporating more plant-based meals and snacks in your daily menu. Instead of purchasing pre-made meals or snacks, which could be loaded with salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats; what if you created your own? What ingredients could you use? Here are some examples of ingredient options you could use to make a meal beneficial to both your body and your world.
Oats, Flax, or Chia Seed; Hemp Hearts
Nut Butters; Almond, Cashew, or Mixed Nut Butter
2. We all know how plastic negatively affects the environment, but did you know that, according to the EPA, almost half of municipal solid waste (aka, trash) is the result of food packaging? Let’s get creative with ways to mitigate our personal plastic output.
Start by purchasing fewer processed snack foods. When you do, aim for those with minimal packaging. Several companies are starting to invest in compostable packaging options; research and explore the options in your community!
Get sustainable by investing in an air fryer or a blender to make your own snacks. Prepare and offer yourself options like homemade, air-fried chips or healthy smoothies, so you don’t have to purchase mass-produced and highly processed potato chips or granola bars when those mid-afternoon munchies hit.
3. Plan your meals and snacks each week. Pick a day, either on the weekend or the end of the week before, and plan out your menu and grocery list. If you’re prepared, you’re less likely to turn to processed and plastic-wrapped foods.
4. Try and finish what you have already purchased before buying more and investigate proper food storage to prolong the lifespan of the groceries you have. This saves both time and money, but also results in fewer trips to the grocery store, which means less temptation to pick up extra ‘treats’ that would ultimately make you feel crummy.
5. Go seasonal and shop at your local farmer’s market. This is not only more cost efficient, but also so much better for you, as you can buy local produce from a reliable source without the chemical processing that comes with long-distance produce transport. Most farmer’s markets also offer healthier versions of homemade products, such as bread that has been made with less processed flour. Remember, it’s always good to support your community by supporting a local farmer.
6. Get involved with gardening, either at your residence or at a community shared garden. Plant seasonally and dig in the dirt to increase your microbiome. This will also allow you to eat seasonally and save you money in the long run; and if you’ve ever eaten a veggie you grew yourself, you know that they always taste more satisfying.
You matter. The world you live in matters. As we move into April, I’m making a personal commitment to eliminate processed and pre-packaged foods; not only for my own health, but also for the health of my community. I’ll be sharing recipes, inspiration, roadblocks, and resolutions for my unprocessed-April journey. Will you join me?