Tips for eating well and looking after the planet, from dietitian, researcher and food enthusiast, Dr Amelia Harray.
Dr Amelia Harray is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Researcher, who specialises in promoting healthy eating habits that support environmental sustainability. She is the Founder and Director of Eat Sustainably, an online nutrition program that guides individuals to adopt eating habits that bring joy and benefit the planet. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow Dr Amelia on Instagram at @eat.sustainably.
Eco-friendly eating is a lifestyle – it isn’t just about what we eat, but about where we buy food from, how we prepare and cook it, how much we eat, and how much we throw away. Eating in a sustainable way can improve our physical and mental health, reduce spending on food, support local food producers and farmers, and help create a healthy planet for future generations.
The key elements of eco-friendly eating include:
- Eating mostly plant-based foods. These include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, whole grains and cereals. You don’t need to be a vegetarian to eat sustainably.
- Eating minimally processed foods. These are often called ‘whole foods’ and are as close to their natural state as possible. For example, rolled oats, an apple or cow’s milk.
- Eating locally grown foods that are in season. This habit can provide health, environmental and economic benefits.
- Choosing foods in recyclable packaging, such as glass, or no packaging! These can replace foods in single-use packaging or individually packaging.
- Limiting food waste. This can be done by planning meals, using leftovers and only buying what you need.
- Practising mindful eating. This can help us consider the journey the food has been on. When we think about these things, it can influence what we choose to buy.
Where should I start on my eco-friendly eating journey?
I suggest making one small achievable change at a time, but what is achievable for one person may not be for another, and that’s okay. Here are some ideas:
- Peel less. By keeping the skins on many fruits and vegetables, we can reduce food waste, save money and improve our nutrient intake. Start we carrots or potatoes, then you can work your way up to pumpkin.
- Swap individually packaged foods for those in larger containers. For example, try to swap small tubs of yoghurt for a larger tub.
- Talk to your food. Try to eat foods that are as close to their natural state as possible by asking food– ‘how far have you come from your natural state buddy?’.
- Plan meals. Planning meals can reduces food waste and help us meet our nutrient needs over the week.
- Flip the label. Look at the proportion (or %) of Australian ingredients in packaged food, the rule of thumb is the higher the better!
Remember, it's not about changing everything, but about everyone changing some things.
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