Lean and Green: Six Simple Strategies
by Kami Gray We don’t often think of losing weight and becoming healthier as a way to live greener and become a better steward of the planet, but becoming lean and going green go hand-in-hand. Here are some easy ways to slim down, become healthier, and take better care of our beautiful planet.
1. Shop the perimeter of your grocery store where all the fresh, healthy food is located, like fruits, vegetables, seafood, and meats. The packaged, processed, and frozen foods that often contain trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, and other unhealthy additives are typically found in the center of the store. This could also be a money-saving strategy, since fresh foods typically cost less than processed foods. It’s better for the environment because all that excessive packaging ends up in landfills. You are reducing waste as you’re reducing your waist! Don’t forget to bring reusable bags to the grocery store to cut down on the resources required to manufacture new paper and plastic bags as well the energy required to make them.
2. Hit the bulk aisle for healthy foods like whole grains, nuts, and cereal to cut down on excessive packaging and save you some money. While refined, simple, and starchy carbohydrates, such as white bread, white rice, white pasta, and highly processed foods, can contribute to weight gain and can prevent weight loss; whole grains like oats, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, and quinoa can have the opposite effect. Not only are they the key to weight loss and weight maintenance, they can also reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes.
You are also requiring less energy from the planet when you eat food that is minimally processed. When you choose whole grains, the planet’s energy and resources aren’t expended taking apart the grain and processing, refining, and bleaching it. Those whole grains you’re eating are eventually processed or broken down, though. Guess where that energy comes from? You! So not only are you saving Earth’s precious resources and the energy required to process whole grains into white foods; your body is using its energy to break down those whole grains instead. To be gentler to the environment, bring your own containers or use brown paper bags from the produce section and reuse them several times because recycling the bag.
3. Walk, bike, or take mass transit to run errands, visit your neighbor, attend worship services, or take the kids to school. It’s pretty clear how biking and walking can help you slim down, but mass transit calls for more exercise too since you have to travel to pick up and drop off points. Sure, all these methods require a little more time and planning ahead, but losing excess weight and becoming healthier while reducing carbon dioxide emissions, the leading cause of global warming, is definitely worth it!
4. Patronize farmers’ markets and put yourself smack in the middle of the freshest, local, and seasonal bounty of fruits and vegetables that your community has to offer. This also helps to support the local economy, requires less fuel to transport food to you, and less carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles transporting food great distances. Much of the produce you buy at your local grocery store comes from agribusiness giants that ship food thousands of miles for your convenience. Food that comes from a nearby farm is going to taste a lot fresher and tastier and spending money at farmers’ markets tells the farmers to continue to put their land to good use and keep growing healthy food for the local population.
5. Buy organic food instead of food manufactured and grown using conventional practices because it’s guaranteed by the USDA to not contain pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, genetically modified organisms, or sewage sludge. Certified organic food is also produced on ecologically-friendly farms that are required to use sustainable practices that ensure the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water, which keeps your drinking water cleaner. One tiny word of caution: just because a food is certified organic doesn’t mean it’s healthy or that it will help you lose weight. There are hundreds of organic foods that are in this category such as packaged foods, ice cream, and breads and pastas that are not whole grain. Organic food can be more expensive so here are some cost-cutting strategies: 1. Search the web for coupons, 2. Shop at discount stores or buy in bulk, 3. Look for store-brand organics, 4. Join a food co-op, 5. Buy produce in season.
6. Eat Less Meat and more protein substitutes like legumes, nuts, seeds (which contain antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, Vitamin E, and far less saturated fat, antibiotics, hormones) is good for you, animal livestock, and the planet. Plant-based food has far less environmental impact than animal-based food. Getting your protein from sources other than beef is a pretty brilliant idea. The EPA estimates that nearly 75 percent of the water pollution in the United States is a direct result of industrial beef production and processing. The problems associated with global warming and climate change are also increased due to beef production and consumption. From a health standpoint, there are many reasons to limit your beef consumption. Beef is a leading source of dietary saturated fat, which can significantly increase the risk of heart disease, the number one killer of men and women today. Beef consumption also creates a significant number of public health hazards because animal feed in industrial meat plants may contain arsenic, animal by-products, and antibiotics.
Making simple changes like these not only transforms your body and makes you healthier; it also helps transform the Earth and makes our planet healthier.
Kami Gray is the author of The Denim Diet: Sixteen simple Habits to Get You into Your Dream Pair of Jeans. She is a mother, blogger, author, and TV Wardrobe Stylist who says a dream pair of jeans can be a great motivator for losing weight and keeping it off. You can find Kami online athttp://thedenimdiet.com/ or read her blog at http://blog.kamigray.com/