Picking up healthier eating habits is not only good for your physical health but also for the health of the environment. Recent research from Harvard reported that those who followed a more sustainable diet were 25% less likely to die during a follow-up period of over three decades compared to others following a less sustainable diet.
These findings aren’t necessarily new, building on prior research that identified foods beneficial for personal health and the environment. Foods such as whole grains, fruit, non-starchy vegetables, nuts, and unsaturated oils are considered healthy, while foods such as eggs and red or processed meats are potentially harmful to both our planet and personal health in the long term.
Adopting an environmentally sustainable diet can help lower your mortality risk, preventing the development of cancer, heart disease, respiratory diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases. Still, we can pick up more healthy habits to achieve good health and weight loss in an eco-friendly way. Below, we’ll explore some of them and how you can adopt them into your everyday life:
Motivating yourself through sustainability
Making sustainability the focus of your lifestyle change can help you maintain a healthier weight-loss mindset. This will also prevent you from mindlessly following restrictive fad diets that may lead to bad health and environmental outcomes in the long run. One way to maintain your motivation for weight loss is by reworking the environment around you. Think about stocking up your pantry with healthy, ethically sourced foods instead of surrounding yourself with unhealthy food choices like takeout and processed foods. This way, you can ensure healthy nutrition and weight management while reducing environmental damage from less healthy food choices like takeout or fast food.
Eating locally and seasonally
While you shouldn’t restrict your daily diet, it can help to think of what’s available for you locally and seasonally. For example, fresh fruits and vegetables are fresher and more affordable in season. Buying in season also means reducing your carbon footprint as the produce won’t be coming from far away — leading to greenhouse gas emissions from the fuel needed to ship the food to your market. Buying locally produced and sold foods is a great way to support your local community and helps foster a healthy and diverse environment.
Relying less on transportation
In a previous post on climate change and health, we mentioned how reducing your reliance on transportation will help reduce the damages caused by climate change. Like eating locally and seasonally, relying less on transportation can help reduce pollution and other harmful emissions caused by fuels. Instead, take the time to walk or bike to your destinations for a healthier and more environmentally conscious means of getting around. This will help increase your physical activity in the long term, keeping your body fit while maintaining a healthy weight.
Trying eco-friendly exercises
Finally, you can combine sustainability concepts and practices with healthy lifestyle changes. Recently, an eco-friendly workout trend combines running and squatting by having its participants pick up trash while out jogging or running. Even if it may sound trivial, it’s a fun and sustainable twist to working out that can help keep you motivated. The idea, called “plogging,” originally started in Sweden, where there are now plogging groups. By combining jogging or running with squatting when you pick up the trash in your community, you can work up a sweat and maybe even set a fun, eco-friendly example for others in your neighborhood.
Dylan Welch is the CEO and Host of Going Green, a podcast, website, and social media brand that highlights renewable energy, cleantech, and sustainable news.