Author: Belinda Martin, Accredited Practising Dietitian | PERTH DIETITIAN
What is sustainable eating? Well it’s about choosing foods that are not only healthy but are also kind to our planet and environment. Now I am no authority on the subject, but I think it’s a good idea to start the conversation. And some of you will probably already be way ahead of the game on sustainable eating so perhaps you can give me some tips to share.
The 2019 EAT-Lancet commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems recommends a global shift toward more plant-based foods, whole grains, vegetables, fruits and nuts, and less animal-based foods, especially red meat and processed meat.
What small changes can we make?
- Eat more plant based foods including lentils and beans. Most Australians eat three times the amount of meat than what our bodies need and a recent study showed that only 4 % of us are eating the recommended serves of vegetables per day. Not only is this impacting our health and risk of chronic disease, it is also impacting our environment in a big way. Think large land clearing, the amount of grain that is required to feed livestock and methane gases produced by livestock. Now you don’t need to become vegetarian for sustainable eating and it’s important to support our local farmers, but try to increase the amount of lentils, beans, vegetables, fruit, wholegrains that you eat and reduce the meat you eat. Perhaps you could try Meat Free Mondays in your house.
- Eat more wholefoods. Wholefoods are foods that have not been processed or refined. They include wholegrains, fruit and vegetables and unprocessed meats. They don’t contain added sugar or added salt, flavourings or colourings. For the planet this means that less energy and resources have gone into producing them, refining them, packaging them etc. So eat more wholefoods and try to eat less processed foods. Make your own version of muesli bars, crisps, baked goods etc.
- Shop locally and support your local growing community. When you buy foods that were grown locally, it cuts down on the amount of fuel and energy needed to transport the food to you. It also gives you the opportunity to talk with the farmers at your market or local grocery store and learn about where the food comes from, how it is produced and about other local growers. It shows your kids that real fruit and veg is not perfect and that’s OK. So much nicer than walking the aisles of a supermarket and gets you out and about talking about food.
- Buy Less packaged foods. We all know plastic is bad for the environment and it is fantastic that our major supermarket chains have moved away from plastic bags. Go a step further and buy at the local markets where packaging is not used, make snacks for the family instead of buying plastic wrapped food, make food from scratch and freeze leftovers or better still, take a leftover meal to a new mum friend of yours or your elderly neighbour. Buy staples in bulk rather than in small packets.
- Buy from producers who have ethical and sustainable farming practices. This goes without saying. Buy free range meat and eggs and local seafood. Ask your food providers to support local farmers, local producers and sustainable agriculture.
- Eat seasonally. When possible, focus on foods that are available in season where you live and you’ll be supporting sustainability. Out-of-season foods have usually not been grown in a natural environment or grown far away and transported long distances to get to your local shops. We are technically still in Spring in Perth so at the moment enjoy bananas, blueberries and mangoes to name a few. And for all the kale eaters out there – add spinach to your green smoothie instead. The nutrients in spinach are the same, but kale isn’t in season until Autumn and Winter. Check out this link to see what is in season at different times of the year What’s in Season in Perth .
- Grow some food.It can be anything. At our house, we are currently growing coriander, thyme, basil and have just branched out to rockmelon, capsicums and tomatoes. It’s great for kids and yourselves to learn about what it takes to grow something, the sweat and tears, how much watering is involved and how precious it is. It gives you a greater connection to food and reduces food mileage. And there’s nothing better than picking fresh food from the garden to go into your meals.
- Reduce food waste. A National Waste Report in 2010 estimated that Australians throw out 4 million tonnes of food each year; enough to fill 450,000 garbage trucks. For more shocking facts and figures about food waste in Australia, check out this link Food Waste Facts. What can you do? Get onto a weekly plan of your meals to minimise waste. Try to use your leftovers and store produce properly so it lasts longer. Set up a compost bin to turn your food waste into fantastic soil to use on your veggie patch!
We’re all in this together so every little bit you do counts. Sustainable eating doesn’t mean you miss out on nutrition. You can absolutely meet all of your nutrition needs and do your 2 cents worth to help the planet. If you need help to meet your nutrition needs, book in to see us.
About the Author
Belinda Martin is a Perth Dietitian specialising in paediatric nutrition, infant nutrition, allergies and pregnancy nutrition. She is the co-founder of Advanced Dietitians Group and loves working with people and families. She has been a dietitian for 20 years. She has worked as a Senior Dietitian and Paediatric Dietitian in various teaching hospitals in Western Australia and the United Kingdom. When she is not working, she is trying to tame a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old (and a 40+ year old) at home.
About Advanced Dietitians Group
Advanced Dietitians Group was founded in 2014 by Belinda Martin and Ingrid Roche, Perth dietitians with a combination of over 40 years’ experience in the industry. Both dietitians have a range of experience across the lifespan but specialise in paediatric nutrition, pregnancy nutrition, infant nutrition and allergies. They provide up to date evidence-based nutrition advice. This coupled with their wealth of experience in dietetics ensures you get the best possible nutrition service. They get a buzz out of helping their clients and their families.