On the occasion of the "Earth Hour" that takes place every year at the end of March, during which a large percentage of the planet stops using electricity and electrical appliances for one or more hours that day, I thought of talking to you about all the other solutions we could follow in order to have better sustainability and a more balanced, healthy lifestyle. This is so that we can protect ourselves and the planet at the same time. I think you understand that we are all part of the same “chain” and we constantly affect each other.
The pandemic, although it has made many people think more about their health and the consumption of healthy foods, seems to have reduced the rates of people who were thinking of following a more sustainable and healthy lifestyle than before the pandemic. These are the data we currently have according to a report by the Institute of Grocery Distribution.
Now, shall we see what we can all do for our health and planet?
1. Create a sustainable... shopping basket!
Βetter estimate the food you weekly consume - you and your family - , make a shopping list of what you really need and buy from the supermarket only what is necessary. In this way, you can avoid exaggerations and buying products which are not essential. In fact, understanding the nutrition facts labels is very important - as we’ve said - as they help us make healthier choices, aiming to reduce foods high in saturated fat, sugar, salt, and increase the consumption of fiber and more complete meals. You should buy mainly plant-based products and look at their origin. The closer they are produced to the area where you live and the less meat you consume (see what I mean below!), the better since they help to reduce the carbon footprint, i.e. carbon dioxide. Of course, it is very important to keep up - as much as possible - with the seasonality!
2. Think… green and consume more plant-based proteins!
I think this is something we have said many times! You should add more fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains to your diet. This way. not only do you aim for better health, getting the vitamins and minerals you need from food and enhancing the digestion process… but you also manage to reduce the consumption of meat (which is my next bullet point). Remember that it is no coincidence that most vegan, vegetarian, plant-based and even flexitarian or Mediterranean diets have become widely known in recent years. All these diets have a common goal: the consumption of more plant-based foods (and plant-based protein foods), and the reduction of meat, improving our health and the "health" of the environment as well!
3. Reduce the red meat!
Aiming to reduce the red meat you consume at home, as well as by take away or delivery, you will not only help the environment and the planet, but you will also enhance your health. I think most of you already know that especially red meat and processed meat products, such as cold cuts, have a lot of fat and preservatives, and especially when cooked in combination with other fatty foods such as butter or cheese, the final fat of the recipe increases even more. According to the WHO, the excessive consumption of red meat -and especially processed meat products- increases the possibility of developing several chronic diseases and various forms of cancer. So, what better than combining the increase in plant-based protein and the reduction of red meat consumption, boosting your health and the planet?
Extra tip: We can -of course- eat red meat, just -as much as possible- in moderation. In other words, you should reduce the daily consumption, especially if it has become a habit. In fact, you can get the cuts of meat that have less fat from the butcher’s, so that the final product that you will consume has less total and saturated fat.
4. Think of the food waste.
Do not throw away your food; just use it to make another dish that can be your lunch, dinner, snack that day or the day after! Basically, you should reconsider every time you intend to throw away food and ask yourselves if you can use it in another recipe. You can find more recipes that show how to use leftover foods here. Moreover, you will find more about food waste here and here.
The goal is to all try in our own way to make more nutritionally proper choices and think more about sustainability. Only then will there be a real change and a positive impact on the planet. More specifically, this is the only way to reduce environmental pollution, water, soil and ocean pollution, excessive water use, and loss of biodiversity. #stayhealthy #choosesustainable
This article was written in collaboration with the scientific advisor-sports nutritionist Anna Maria Volanaki, MSc, BDA, SENr, INDI.
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