It’s time again for making New Year’s resolutions. The typical health related resolutions are there–losing weight, eating healthier, exercising more. However, many individuals are thinking on a more of global level and are resolving to “go green” to help improve the environment. In fact, Today’s Dietitian magazine lists eating green as one of the “Top 10 Nutrition Trends for 2008”. What if there where ways that you could improve your own health as well as the health of the earth at the same time? Here are some ways to eat green in 2008:
• Drink tap water. Rely less on bottled water – only 8% of those plastic bottles are recycled. Splurge on a good (large) water bottle instead and take it wherever you go. If you don’t like the taste of your local tap water, get a filtering system and fill your bottle from it.
• Use less convenience food. Cook more home-cooked meals and rely less on fast food, processed foods and sodas. You will be adding more nutrition to your plate and less waste to the environment. Of course, this is much easier to do when you are prepared. Plan your menus for the week and grocery shop accordingly. As far as snacking goes, keep healthy readily-available snacks such as fresh or dried fruit or nuts with you. You will be less-inclined to hit the vending machines or convenience stores for a snack.
• Eat less meat and more vegetables, fruit and whole grains. It takes much more food, water, fossil fuel and land to raise livestock that it does to grow produce and grains. In doing so, you will increase your intake of fiber, lower your intake of saturated and total fat, and therefore, reducing your risk of heart disease. Here are some ways to do this:
o Ensure that your portion size of meat is no more than 2 to 3 ounces and that your vegetable portion fills up at least half of your plate.
o Have meatless entrée at least one or two meals a week.
o Use meat as a side dish to a meal instead of as the main course. Add it to soups, pasta, stir-fries or casseroles.
• Buy local. Food that does not have to travel across the country to get to you will cause less harm to the environment. Visit your local farmers markets to support the local economy as well as your local family farms. Local produce is fresher and tastier and makes it easy for you to get your “Five a Day”. The same goes for dining out. When you eat out, visit local restaurants that prepare fresh food instead of chain restaurants. You will be helping to stimulate your local economy.
• Buy fresh. Make the current season the basis for your menu planning and food choices. Capture the flavors when they are at their peak. Asparagus in the spring, cauliflower in the winter. Buy extra of the in-season produce and dry, can or freeze the excess.
• Grow your own. You can’t beat the satisfaction from biting into fresh produce that you have grown in your own back yard. Don’t have a back yard? Try growing fresh herbs in window pots or strawberry plants on your patio.
• Utilize your local Cooperative Extension. Extension educators provide their local citizens with unbiased, researched-based information obtained from associated state universities. Topics are vast and include food safety, conservation, gardening and landscaping. For instance, our own Pasquotank County, North Carolina Cooperative Extension office has a seasonal Farmer’s Market and offers a Master Gardener instruction program.
So, resolve to eat more “green” in 2008. Your food choices will impact not only your own health but the health of our planet as well. Your body will thank you and so will Mother Earth!
It’s Your Health. It’s Your Life. Make That Change!