I really like the healthy dietary tips provided in this article by Barbara J. Moore, PhD for Shape Up America!
Food is one place where we can really trim the fat — by preparing meals at home and eating greener and smarter. Here are some things you can do to go green and lean:
Side step the nonessentials
This includes soda/pop, beer, candy, cookies, cakes and chips. Sit down and figure out how much money you are spending on such products each year, and calculate the savings in dollars, not to mention the savings in calories, if you cut way back. You’ll likely be in for a big surprise. The savings in product packaging that does not wind up in a landfill is an added bonus.
Eat in instead of out
Even fast food is a budget buster and often involves plastics and other packaging that is used once and then discarded. The fast food value meals may be cheap today, but expensive tomorrow when you are faced with the costs of treating obesity and diabetes that are linked to a poor diet. Because they depend on a constant flow of massive quantities of uniform types of food (corn-based sweetener for soda, a single type of potato for French Fries, or mountains of beef for burgers), fast food chains are necessarily linked to industrial or factory farming techniques and the loss of many varieties of vegetables and fruit.
To meet the enormous demand for fast food, agricultural production is focused on single crop farming and large animal feedlots or caged poultry that produce
massive amounts of animal and other chemical and biological wastes that are polluting our air, rivers and streams. Studies show a lower-calorie intake and
improved nutritional profile for meals prepared at home, so if you can cut back on eating out and learn to shop only once a week for your groceries, you will
gain several benefits. In addition to consuming fewer calories, you will begin to influence agricultural production, reduce materials required for packaging
fast foods, and save on gasoline, thereby reducing carbon emissions and saving dollars.
Cut down on convenience foods
Although roasted chickens, deli salads and pre-washed salad greens are time-savers, they cost a bundle and almost always involve packaging that winds up in a landfill. Instead, you can develop your own homemade convenience foods and store them in green reusable containers that don’t wind up in the garbage. Purchase a fresh head of lettuce and wash the leaves in cold water, yourself. Thoroughly dry them and store them wrapped loosely in a paper towel, inside a plastic bag. Place in the refrigerator vegetable bin, so they will stay crisp and ready for your use throughout the week.
Prepare soups and stews on weekends and enjoy them throughout the week to save both time and money. Home-prepared foods are likely to be lower in calories than their store-bought counterparts.
Eat more plants and fewer animals
Animal protein is high in quality and nutritious, but there is no doubt that a plant-based diet is literally greener and requires less energy (fossil fuels) to produce. Reductions in massive agricultural animal production will reduce the required antibiotic usage in factory farms and cut down on animal waste and other contaminants that run off into our ground water.
Start collecting new recipes for low-cost beans and legumes and other vegetarian fare, and use meat sparingly. These are strategies that are consistent with effective weight management since the vast majority of plant foods are naturally low in fat and, thus, less energy (or calorie) dense than animal foods, especially when plant foods are prepared at home with minimal fats or oils.
Start now to plan a garden so you will be ready when spring comes
What could be greener? You can grow your own fresh produce or at least some fresh herbs in a window box. A diet composed of more veggies is less energy dense
and helpful for weight management. An additional lean benefit is that gardening is a great way to exercise and burn calories.
Replace calorie-rich soda with water, preferably from the tap
If you really want the convenience of portable bottled water, buy a reusable (greener) bottle from a sporting goods store. If you object to the taste of your local tap water, invest in a water filter, such as Brita®, that will improve the taste and still save you money compared to buying bottled water.