Establishing Good Nutrition Habits with Sustainability in Mind

March 16 2023
 good nutrition habits

March in National Nutrition Month in the U.S. and a time to establish good nutrition habits



The onset of spring is a great time to focus on the importance of making informed food choices, and developing healthy eating habits. The theme for this year’s National Nutrition Month is “Fuel for the Future,” which emphasizes eating with sustainability in mind.

What we eat not only affects our bodies, but our world as well. In recent years, there’s been a growing global awareness of the environmental impact of human eating habits. From greenhouse gas emissions to water usage and deforestation, food production can have a significant effect on the planet. 

Fortunately, we don’t have to choose either healthy eating or a healthy earth. There are plenty of ways to establish good nutrition habits with sustainability in mind. 



A woman working in the vegetable garden.
Establishing good nutrition habits with sustainability in mind will improve your health, and the health of our planet.



Why Nutrition Matters



Nutrition is essential to our overall health and well-being



A balanced diet can reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods can also improve our energy levels, mood, and cognitive function.

However, the standard American diet is often high in saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars, which can increase the risk of chronic diseases. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 1 in 10 adults in the US meet the daily recommended intake for fruits and vegetables

And many Americans consume too much processed and fast food, which can be high in sodium and unsaturated fats. More than one in three American adults eats fast food every day

Regularly consuming fast food can be just as bad for the environment as it is for our bodies. Fast food is linked with excess waste. Just think of all the one-time-use items that come in a bag of fast food. All that fast food waste has a big negative impact on the environment.



Establishing good nutrition habits



Establishing good nutrition habits is a key to maintaining a good diet. Here are some ways you can start to build a healthy routine:

  • Set realistic goals. It’s essential to make your goals realistic and achievable. For example, instead of vowing to cut out all sugar from your diet, try to limit your intake to a certain amount per day or week. If not, you’re setting yourself up for frustration and failure. By setting reachable goals, you’ll build a pattern of achievement that creates a good feeling, which builds the desire to repeat that action. 
  • Plan meals ahead of time. Meal planning can help you stay on track with your healthy eating goals. It can help you save money too, and cut down on your food waste. Plan out your meals and snacks for the week. and make a grocery list before heading to the store. And stick to it! Don’t fall prey to the stuff that’s on sale, if you’re not going to have time to eat it. 
  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Pile on the fruits and vegetables, which are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and can help you feel full and satisfied. Rather than stare at a skimpy plate, make half of your plate fruits and vegetables at every meal. There’s a psychology of abundance to a full plate that will make meal time more rewarding.
  • Choose lean proteins. Lean proteins such as chicken, fish, pork loin, yogurt, and beans are an excellent source of nutrients and can help you feel full for longer. Try to incorporate lean proteins into every meal, as a main course or side dish. If you’re looking to build muscle mass, proteins are essential. But lean proteins are better than burgers and steaks—and cattle are the #1 source of agricultural greenhouse gasses
  • Avoid processed and fast food. Sorry, sandwich lovers. Some processed foods like cold cuts are often high in sodium. And fast food? Just avoid it. It’s high in calories, sodium, and added sugars, and often leaves you hungry again just a short while after you leave the drive-thru. Limit your intake of these foods and focus on whole, nutrient-dense foods instead.
  • Swap soda for H20. Drinking enough water is essential to our overall health. Gulp it down. Eight cups is the goal. And soda? That stuff is terrible for you. Seriously. Ditch it. 
  • Compost your food waste. 28% of food scraps and garden waste that go into the trash can be composted. Composting is the term for separating your organic waste into it’s own container so that it can then be used to make rich, dense fertilizer. Composting is a great way to practice sustainable eating, and to feed your garden with nutrients.


Establishing good nutrition habits



Once you’ve committed to good nutrition habits, maintaining them can be tough. But it’s essential to our overall health. Here are some tips for keeping healthy eating habits:

  • Practice mindful eating. Mindful eating involves paying attention to the food you’re eating and the sensations in your body. It’s about savoring your food, and enjoying the moment. Eating isn’t a race. Avoid distractions such as TV or your phone while eating and focus on your food instead. The scroll will be there when you’re done.
  • Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals can lead to overeating later in the day. It’s tricky in our busy, modern life, but try to eat three balanced meals and two snacks per day. It will keep your energy levels stable, and studies show a balanced diet can have positive impacts on productivity. And by skipping meals you’re more likely to grab something to go later, which can only lead to more food trash. 
  • Cook at home. It’s fun, for starters. Furthermore, cooking at home allows you to control the ingredients that go into your meals and can better ensure that you’re eating a balanced diet. At a restaurant you never know how much butter or salt can go into your portions. Cooking at home helps stretch your food dollar too. And if you cook? Someone else can do the dishes.
  • Eat with others. Humans are social creatures. Eating with others creates pleasurable associations with food, and can help you stay on track with your healthy eating goals. If you eat with family or roommates regularly, you can all adopt healthier eating habits.
  • Allow for cheat days. Look, we get it. Pizza rocks. Ice cream sundaes are fire. Road trip stops at the burger shack are a right of passage. Delivery is convenient. It’s okay to indulge in less healthy eating occasionally, and food packaging can’t totally be avoided. Just practice moderation, be smart, and don’t be lazy about your food choices. You’ll be more satisfied in the long run.


Making environmentally conscious food choices



If you really want to make an impact on sustainability with your food choices, take your meal prep and planning to the next level.

Choose plant-based foods

Want to reduce the environmental impact of your diet? Eat more plant-based foods. Animal agriculture is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and uses a huge amount of land and water. By incorporating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds into your diet, you can reduce your carbon footprint and help protect the planet—and your heart.

Buy local and seasonal

Support your local farmers market! Buying locally-grown food when it’s in season not only reduces your environmental impact, it helps your community, too. When food is transported long distances, it requires a ton of energy, which generates greenhouse gas emissions. Those out-of-season artichokes you get at the grocery store? They arrived here on a supertanker from somewhere far away. By choosing local and seasonal produce, you can support local farmers, reduce transportation emissions, and enjoy fresher and more flavorful food.

Avoid food waste

Food waste is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. When food is thrown away, it not only generates methane gas in landfills but also wastes the resources used to grow, harvest, and transport it. To reduce food waste, plan your meals in advance, buy only what you need, and use up leftovers before they go bad. Compost the rest.

Choose sustainably sourced seafood

Seafood is healthy, delicious, and rich in proteins. But some fishing practices can have a significant environmental impact. Overfishing and habitat destruction can harm marine ecosystems and contribute to ocean acidification. To make more sustainable seafood choices, look for seafood that is certified by organizations like the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC). These certifications ensure that seafood is sourced from sustainable fisheries or farms that minimize their environmental impact.

Reduce packaging waste

Packaging waste is a significant contributor to landfills and can take hundreds of years to decompose. To reduce your environmental impact, choose products with minimal packaging, bring your own reusable bags and containers to the grocery store, and buy in bulk when possible. You can also look for packaging that is made from recycled materials or is recyclable or compostable. Doubt packaging waste is that bad? Check out the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

To get started on a nutritious, sustainable diet, consider ordering a delivery box of farm-fresh fruits and vegetables. You can customize your orders based on your likes (beets and berries? Sweet!) and dislikes (squash and pears? No thanks), and get add-ons far beyond produce, too.

Another option? Imperfect Foods, which delivers foods that might have cosmetic quirks or odd sizes to your doorstep, saving tons of quality food.

And if you want to do your small part to fight climate change while having fun in the garden, here’s a handy guide to starting your own backyard compost kit.

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