Ever since we have been younger, they have told us time and time again that we should eat our greens. Vegetables are good for us—now we understand, and a healthy diet is the very pillar of our wellbeing. However, unless we take conscious effort, it is extremely easy to forget about this in the daily hustle and bustle and fall into the trap of fast and convenient foods.
Naturally, it’s easier to grab something from the bakery when you’re hungry on the go or boost your energy instantly with something sweet when you need a little push at work. However, with this, you’re not only hurting yourself, but you might also be inadvertently hurting the planet.
There are many ways to approach healthy eating, and everyone swears to their own. However, a growing consciousness of our environment has been encouraging more and more people to “green up” their diets. What this entails is making lifestyle changes that will benefit both you and your environment. If you want to eat healthier while also contributing to a bigger cause, here are some tips for planning your green diet.
The first step towards a green diet is buying local produce as much as you can. This decision has several benefits. Not only are you ensuring that what you purchase is as fresh as it gets, but you’re also minimizing your ecological footprint by steering clear of products that have travelled tremendously. As you might know, fresh produce is the most nutrient-rich. Buying from local small businesses likely also means that the product is more delicious than that you will find in supermarkets. Visit farmers’ markets instead of going for pre-packed, pre-cut veggies.
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
Greening up your diet, in both senses of the world, involves introducing lots of fruits and vegetables to your daily meals. Green vegetables, especially leafy greens, are rich in vitamins and minerals like magnesium, iron, potassium, and vitamin C (that even contributes to maintaining healthy teeth.) Fruits are also a great source of fibre. Generally, the consumption of five portions of these foods is recommended per day. It means that you should try incorporating them in every meal you have. If you struggle to find time for all this, feel free to take a shortcut and blend your daily vitamin sources into one energy-boosting smoothie.
Consider going plant-based
The vitamins in vegetables are crucial, but they are not everything. If you don’t want your diet plan to fail after two days, planning for the rest of the nutrients your body needs is paramount. When it comes to protein, meat is one of the most obvious sources. However, moderating your meat consumption—especially red meat consumption—is advisable. Green diet plans encourage introducing more plant-based foods for ample protein intake while minding carbon emissions that animal products are highly responsible for. Milk, different types of plant-based milk, nuts, tofu, lentils, and other protein-rich foods will allow your green diet to stay balanced. When picking meat products, try to go for ethically raised ones.
Stay with the season
Another valuable tip for greening up your diet is eating with the season. In the 21st century, we are well used to the idea that everything is available to us at all times. However, that is often at a hefty price, both literally and figuratively. Out of season produce is transported to the shelves from distant locations, which makes its carbon footprint quite high. In addition, it also costs more. Switching to a “seasonal” diet will thus benefit your wallet, too.
If you keep finding yourself regretting that you haven’t taken good care of your body, you need to get more organized and plan your diet meticulously. Meal prepping is what’s going to save you. Think about at least the following day and make preparations so that you don’t end up taking a shortcut. Wash, peel, and cut your veggies the night before so that they are ready to go in the morning. Just make sure you store them in airtight containers in your fridge, and you won’t have to worry about them going bad.
Grow your food
It cannot be denied that green eating comes with a price tag. Going for the organic options will always cost extra, and even though you know it is worth it, it’s not always an option. However, you shouldn’t let this stand between you and healthy eating. You can try your hand at growing your food and taking freshness to the next level. Today, thanks to methods like hydroponic farming, you don’t even need a lot of space to grow just enough veggies for yourself and your family. If you have at least a balcony, a vertical garden can ensure that you always have healthy produce for your meals and salads.
Add some variety
According to statistics, a lot of people don’t meet their required vegetable intake. Some of the reasons for this include a dislike for vegetables. However, this issue can easily be mended if you add some variety to your meals by preparing your veggies in different ways. Appropriate seasoning can completely transform your vegetable dishes from bland to delicious. Instead of cooking, try roasting your veggies. You can also switch things up by purchasing something new from time to time. New veggies will mean new recipes, and you won’t have to worry about your diet getting boring.
Have snacks at hand
Finally, diets often fail due to a lack of preparation. When cravings hit during the middle of the workday, don’t let your efforts be destroyed, but have appropriate snacks prepared. Nuts and fruits are great options, so have a variety of these in your drawer. You can even take it a step further and prepare vegetable snacks: carrots with hummus, celery with peanut butter, or kale chips don’t take much time to prepare, and you’ll have something crunchy and delicious that doesn’t harm your health.
Greening up your diet has virtually no drawbacks but can make a difference in the long term, both for your health and for the planet. Hopefully, these tips will inspire you to make a positive change in your lifestyle.
Alison Pearson is an interior design student. She is a writer and designer. Her ultimate passion is designing. She is a bibliophile and her favorite book is “The Sound and the Fury” by William Faulkner.