Saturday, September 10, 2011

Go Green AND Lose Weight

Fruit and Vegetable Market, 2011 

Making choices that are environmentally friendly can help you lose weight—if you keep in mind that portion sizes and total calories still count. 

I’ve been doing quite a bit of research lately on the food supply and global warming. I was astounded to learn that the food system may be responsible for almost 30 percent of global warming from greenhouse gas emissions generated by the consumer economy in industrialized countries. 

Did you know that the contribution of the food system to global warming is so large that making more environmentally friendly food substitutions can make as much difference in one’s carbon footprint as driving a super efficient hybrid car? 

Here are my top 7 tips for persons who are interested both in losing weight and in protecting the planet. 

  1. Double the amount of low-calorie fruits and vegetables you eat (unless you already eat way more than most Americans).

  1. Eat red meat from cattle, sheep, and goats less often.  Substitute fish, seafood, poultry and eggs, or choose meatless protein foods like legumes. Eat smaller amounts:  3 – 4 ounces cooked.
  1. Eat more whole grains.

  1. Eat what you buy to avoid waste. 

  1. Store foods in an energy efficient refrigerator.

  1. Eat fewer foods that are heavily processed and packaged.

  1. Buy and eat less food. Burn off more calories doing physical activity with a purpose.  How’s that? Walk to the grocery store for a few items.

Some diets are more environmentally friendly than others.  What are your thoughts about choosing a weight loss diet that is environmentally friendly?  Would you do it?  Why or why not?


  1. Hi Kay,

    And, chose locally produced foods whenever we can. Has there any good studies done about it? It is convenient and sometimes necessary, but it is not environmentally friendly. Also as many people says the taste isn't so great compare to the local one. But still, the world is shifting foods around all over the world. mi

  2. Hi Mi,

    Very interesting question! Yes, I also like to buy locally produced foods. Often food tastes better is better and it seems like a good ideas to support small farmers and the local economy.

    Still, my understanding is that the answer is not so simple about whether buying locally helps the environment.

    The answer depends more on how the food is transported to market. A 2007 review of the literature by Sonja Brodt from the University of California,Davis, suggested that the type of food transport is more important than the distance the food has traveled. Rail transport is much more fuel efficient than truck transport for example. There is some evidence that small, locally based food systems are most reliant on the least efficient vehicles.

    Thanks again for the comment!


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