Nutrition Month 2023: Five Tips for eating a more sustainable diet
Each year during the month of March, Registered Dietitians and other professionals celebrate Nutrition Month to help provide Canadians with informed nutrition information. This year’s theme is Unlock the Potential of Food, and today we are happy to share tips on eating a more sustainable diet.
What is a sustainable diet?
Eating a sustainable diet means different things to different people, but in general sustainable diets:
- Include a variety of healthy foods that meets an individual’s nutrient needs
- Minimize negative environmental impact of our food system
- Incorporate culturally acceptable foods
- Reduce food waste effectively
- Are affordable and accessible by community members
- Protect biodiversity and ecosystems
Involve fair and equitable work environments for those producing foods
Choose plant-based proteins more often
Animal protein sources require more land, energy, and water to produce, which can have a negative impact on the environment compared to plant protein sources. Increasing your intake of plant-based protein is also good for your health as plant foods are generally high in fibre, vitamins and minerals and are lower in saturated fats.
There are many simple ways to incorporate plant-based protein into your diet:
- Add beans or chickpeas to soups, salads, and rice bowls in place of meat
- Substitute lentils for ground beef in recipes like Bolognese sauce, stuffed peppers, or tacos
- Use fortified soy beverages in place of milk in smoothies, cereal, or sauces
- Choose high protein grains like quinoa in place of pasta, oats or rice
For more Registered Dietitian approved plant-based protein information, check out this plant-based eating article on UnlockFood.ca – brought to you by Dietitians of Canada.
Reduce food waste
In Canada, approximately 60% of foods produced end up being wasted. Reducing your household food waste is not only good for the environment, but it can save you money on your grocery bill. Here are some ideas you can use to reduce your food waste:
- Plan your meals for the week and shop with a grocery list. Planning a meal schedule and using a shopping list allows you to use foods that you already have in the refrigerator or pantry to reduce food waste and ensures you purchase the foods you need that week.
- Use frozen produce more often. Fresh fruits and vegetables can spoil quickly, so purchasing frozen produce reduces the risk of it going uneaten before it’s no longer fresh. Freeze any unused fresh fruit or vegetables prior to spoiling to be incorporated into recipes later.
- Use leftovers to create new meals. Check out this e-book brought to you by Dietitians of Canada featuring easy meal ideas to transform your leftovers.
Drink tap water
Ditching single-use plastic water bottles is an easy way to improve sustainability. Not only do single-use plastic bottles collect in landfills, but emissions released to transport them are also extremely poor for the environment. If you don’t enjoy the taste of tap water, boost your beverage by adding fresh citrus fruits, berries or cucumber, or try spicing up the flavour by adding herbs like fresh mint or basil.
Note: some communities may have drinking water advisories for tap water. Always follow your local public health recommendations when consuming tap water.
Buy local, field grown produce
Grow your own food
Thank you to North York General Hospital’s Dietetic Students Tamara Bird, Taylor Hunsley, Joanna Morrison, and Rachael Sonola for contributing to our blog this month as we Unlock the Potential of Food together.