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Eat Your Greens: How to Have a Healthy, Sustainable Diet

We all know we must eat our greens to be healthy and strong. But, with the world facing a climate crisis, we all need to do our bit to try and be sustainable, too. We need to think about how green our greens really are. 

With much of the food in supermarkets being shipped or flown from the other side of the world, it can be difficult to balance having a healthy diet with a sustainable diet. 

So, how do you make sure your greens are green? Let’s consider some changes you can make to lower your carbon footprint without compromising your health. 

What Can You Do to Help the Environment?

Let’s look at some changes you can implement to make your diet more sustainable and to help the environment avoid the catastrophe of man-made climate change. 

  • Eat Less Meat

The biggest thing you can do for the environment is reduce meat consumption. Meat production accounts for 60% of all agricultural greenhouse emissions worldwide. Therefore, switching to a plant-based or primarily plant-based diet can drastically cut your carbon footprint. 

Changing the type of meat you eat can also make a difference. This is because cows and sheep need more land, water, and food. For example, beef has nearly four times the carbon footprint of chicken, as every 1 kg of beef produced puts 27 kg of CO2 into the atmosphere. 

Not only that but switching away from red meat is also great for you, reducing your saturated fat intake, lowering your cholesterol and reducing your chances of bowel cancer and heart disease.  

  • Drink Tap Water Instead of Pop

The next simple change you can make to help the environment is to avoid or reduce your fizzy drink and fruit juice intake. These drinks often come in plastic bottles, which take a lot of CO2 to produce but also require a lot of energy to transport. 

However, considering how bad fizzy drinks are for you, there’s even more reason to pass on the pop. Sugary fizzy drinks are associated with obesity, diabetes, tooth decay and heart disease. Even sugar-free drinks which contain sweeteners are bad for you and can still contribute to diabetes and heart disease.  

So, what about bottled water? While bottled water might be healthier than pop, it still has all the environmental downsides of fizzy drinks in terms of plastic use and transportation. 

Instead, drink tap water. It’s cheap, safe and one of the most eco-friendly things we consume. And remember, if your tap water is hard, you can get a filter instead of reaching for a bottle. 

  • Avoid Processed Foods

These are typically terrible for you, containing added sugars, salts and saturated fats. The processing also changes how your body absorbs the food, meaning you get more fat and sugars out of them than you do out of whole foods.

In terms of the environment, they’re also a disaster. They tend to come wrapped in plastic, upping their carbon footprint and leaving the planet clogged up with non-degradable plastic. The packaging and processing, which often involves cooking food twice, also increases their carbon footprint. 

  • Watch Out for Flown Foods: 

There are a small amount of products that we eat which are transported by air. These are some of the worst offenders regarding climate damage, as flying uses more fuel and emits greenhouse gasses straight into the upper atmosphere, precisely where they do most harm. 

While they aren’t always easy to spot, look for foods with short sell-by dates from far away. Asparagus, green beans and berries commonly flow into the county from far away to keep them fresh. Similarly, fresh flown fish, choosing locally caught or frozen fish instead. 

You Can Help Protect the Planet

Climate change can seem like a problem too big for us to do anything about. However, there are things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint and help the planet. While these are little steps, together, they all add up. 

What’s more, by changing your buying habits, you incentivise supermarkets and food producers to provide more of the good stuff and reduce our reliance on unsustainable food without compromising health.  

Finally, remember that while balancing your own dietary needs with those of the planet can be tricky, you don’t have to figure it out yourself. If you want to talk to a healthcare specialist about your diet, you can get a GP appointment or book a private GP appointment online anytime. 

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