There are lots of well-known ways to have a healthy lifestyle, but there’s a lot less information around about how you can combine this with helping the planet. But that doesn’t mean it’s not possible: in fact, a few changes to your eating and fitness habits can help you do your bit for the environment and take good care of your body at the same time.
Whether you’re looking to improve your diet after taking a cholesterol test, or just want to feel more energetic and benefit from good health and fitness levels, we lay out the eco-friendly steps you can take below.
One of the first changes you can make is to go local when you shop. If you seek out sources of fresh produce nearby, you can lower your carbon footprint and help the environment. This sustainability tip applies to all of your food, from locally grown fruit and vegetables, to protein that is farmed or fished in your local area.
So how is that healthier? With less time between farm and plate, local produce is fresher and often much tastier, encouraging you to pile more veg onto your plate. Buying locally also makes it easier to avoid indulging in processed foods with plenty of added salt or sugar.
Another way you can make a positive change is to think about when food is naturally available in this country. Planning your meals around the produce that’s in season means you’ll find it far easier to get food from local suppliers. It’s also a good way to keep your diet varied across the year, so that you don’t get bored with your healthy diet, and again, it’s often fresher, as it hasn’t been shipped in from abroad.
Start filling jars
It’s worth noting that you can still enjoy your favourite fruit and veg out of season too, without giving up on buying local. Preserving – for example, by making jams, chutneys, and pickles – is the key to this. This age-old method also helps cut down on waste, keeps your diet exciting, and there’s evidence that the probiotics in pickled foods really do your digestive system some good too.
However, used jars can hold harmful bacteria and spread food poisoning. To deep clean and disinfect a jar quickly, boil water in a good kettle and wash your jar in hot, soapy water. Use fresh boiled water to rinse, and then turn upside down on a clean tea towel to drain and dry. Do this just before you’re ready to use your jar, and don’t let it cool too much before filling it.
Grow your own
It doesn’t get any more local than eating food you’ve grown in your own backyard! You don’t even need a backyard, as you can grow indoors too. Use your window as the base for a vertical garden, put pots on the sills, or set up your own greenhouse and you’ll extend the season of your produce too. Gardening is also great exercise – plus, who can resist eating their five a day when it’s already growing in their house?
Skip the gym …
… and go for a run instead. Gym machines use a lot of electricity, and pools take heating and chemical treating, so explore ways to get fit outdoors. Jogging, cycling, team sports, and wild swimming are all great fun, and have the added bonus of being much cheaper than a gym subscription. You’ll also have the chance to get plenty of fresh air and explore more of your local area, so why not give it a go?
Cut down on meat and dairy
In terms of a healthy diet, cutting down on meat and dairy is helpful because these foods are often high in saturated fat – something that can impact your cholesterol test results.
When it comes to environmental impact, the United Nations has declared that the livestock sector is one of the “most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global”. Meanwhile, the production of dairy products releases a significant amount of greenhouse gasses.
Try starting off small: getting involved with the Meat Free Monday movement is an easy way to cut down on meat. You can help to improve cholesterol test results and be eco-friendly by swapping dairy and meat with unsaturated fat alternatives – switching butter for vegetable oil based spreads, steak for salmon, or sausages for sardines, for example.
So there you have it! Six tips to have a healthy lifestyle and do your bit for the planet. Why not get started today?