Every March we celebrate National Nutrition Month. This annual campaign has been celebrated for 50 years to promote healthy eating and physical activity. This year’s theme is “Fuel for the Future,” with a focus on nourishing ourselves during each phase of life and protecting the environment. At Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating, we are proud that we have promoted and encouraged a healthy, sustainable lifestyle for over 38 years!
Eating with sustainability in mind is a tasty way to nourish yourselves and protect the environment. We encourage our customers to create healthy habits that are sustainable and appropriate for their unique needs. We all know that fad diets come and go and the best way to achieve long-term success is to focus on maintainable changes. When setting goals, ask yourself if you can envision yourself sticking with these changes 5 years from now, 10 years from now, and so on. Any goal that is too big or unsustainable will not last and most likely, you will go back to old habits and lose the benefits you achieved with your efforts. Yo-yo dieting and weight cycling can be more harmful to your health, so focusing on sustainable changes will help improve your success and your overall health.
Sustainability with our diets also needs to focus on the environment. Taking steps to eat a more plant-based diet, reducing food waste, purchasing local, in-season food, and eating a diverse diet are all important sustainable eating practices we all should be focusing on. Let’s take a deeper look at ways to focus on sustainability with your diet choices and how Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating keeps the planet’s health in mind while also improving your health.
The American Heart Association highlights plant-based as a style of cooking and eating, which emphasizes foods from Mother Nature, but is not strictly limited to them. They recommend eating less meat overall, however, do not say you need to completely avoid it. They suggest that meat may be included in the diet, due to its excellent source of iron, zinc and vitamin B12, but not as the main feature of the meal.
Plant-based diets use many fewer natural resources and are less taxing on the environment than a diet rich in animal products. A plant-based diet is a diet that focuses on foods derived from plants, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans, and legumes. It does not have to be exclusively vegetarian or vegan to be considered plant-based, however, should be made up of more plant foods than animal-based foods.
A recent study by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that red and processed meat had the highest environmental impact out of all food groups, producing the greatest share of greenhouse gas emissions and requiring the most irrigation water, cropland, and fertilizer. Another important result of the study was that unhealthy plant-based diets had a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and their diets required more cropland and fertilizer than diets that were higher in healthy plant-based and animal foods. This means that it is not just important to limit a diet high in animal products, but also to focus on the quality of those foods.
According to UCLA, giving up animal-based foods for even one day a week could result in saving thousands of tons of carbon emissions and would reduce our water use at least by half. To put this into context 1 pound of beef requires anywhere between 2,000 to 8,000 gallons of water while 1 pound of tofu requires 302 gallons of water and 1 pound of unprocessed oats requires 290 gallons of water. A good goal is to focus on plating two-thirds of your meals with plant-based foods and 1/3 of your meal to feature animal-based foods.
At Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating, all three of our balanced, healthy meal plans are plant-based. Each plan features a variety of vegetarian meals and includes a variety of foods from Mother Nature.
Reduce Food Waste
Statistics show that 40% of all food purchased is wasted. That is a very high number. Consider if you spend $150 a week on groceries that means that you are throwing out $60 a week of uneaten food. This can create problems for the environment and more. And while all of this focus on the environment is important, it’s important to mention that while perfectly good food is being wasted; 34 million Americans are struggling with hunger. A new survey showed that 95% of people want to do more to reduce food waste.
There are many steps you can take yourself to reduce food waste. According to Mayo Clinic, here are some steps you can take to help cut back on the amount of food you throw away:
1.Make a meal plan every week.
2.Take inventory of what you already have before grocery shopping.
3.Get creative with leftovers.
4.Buy only what you can eat in a week.
5.Consider frozen fruits and vegetables and store fresh produce correctly.
We are always focusing on reducing food waste with our food management. Chef Marcus spends a lot of time getting creative in ways for our company to reduce food waste and our meals only provide you with the exact amount of food you need which helps cut back on wasted food. We also provide meals to staff and donate extra meals to local organizations including cancer centers and homeless shelters rather than throwing out any uneaten food.
Purchase Local and In-Season
By making a conscious choice of buying items produced locally, you not only support your local community but you help to reduce the environmental impact of items being transported. In addition, local shops within towns or city centers generally mean less sprawl, congestion, habitat loss, and pollution.