Healthy Food, Healthy Planet

When you eat, do you think about where your food was grown? Perhaps your cherry tomatoes were grown in your backyard garden, but your beef was imported from Canada. How many miles did your food travel to get to your plate? Many of you – and your clients – are paying closer attention to food and food system sustainability issues that are frequently making headlines. Let’s take a closer look at a recent food sustainability study and how to address your clients’ interests in eating food that will keep our environment, our planet, and our own bodies healthy.

Sustainability Study

Earlier this year, The Lancet published research findings entitled Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT-Lancet Commission on Healthy Diets for Sustainable Food Systems, exploring the link between nutrition and environmental sustainability, and laying the groundwork for future reports that will examine food systems that promote a diet that is healthy for humans and the planet. The evidence-based report calls for a shift toward more healthful eating patterns, reduction in food waste, and improvements in food production.

KC Wright, MS, RDN, LD writes in Today’s Dietitian that this planetary diet benefits both people and the planet: “As countries around the world have become more urban and incomes have risen, traditional diets (typically higher in quality plant-based proteins) have been gradually replaced by Western diets, comprising more calories, mainly from refined carbohydrates; highly processed foods dense in added sugars, sodium, and unhealthful fats; and excess consumption of animal products. Meanwhile, strong evidence has shown that food production is among the largest drivers of global environmental change by contributing to climate change, biodiversity loss, freshwater use, interference with the global nitrogen and phosphorus cycles, land-system change, and chemical pollution.”

Sustainability: Educating Your Clients

The planetary diet doesn’t stray far from a plant-based diet. According to The Lancet, the diet consists of half a plate of fruits, vegetables and nuts, while the other half is comprised of whole grains, plant proteins (beans, lentils, pulses), unsaturated plant oils, modest amounts of meat and dairy, and some added sugars and starchy vegetables.

Wright notes that in order for the Lancet commission to achieve scientific targets for a planetary health diet, dietitian support is critical, as success depends on providing high-quality education on healthful diets. “Now more than ever,” she says, “it’s imperative for dietitians to recognize that food, and thus nutrition guidance, is inextricably linked to the environment.”

Learn more by visiting the Eat Forum blog and invite your clients to do so, too!