Understanding the Importance of a Sustainable Diet and Is it Really Sustainable?

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From keto to intermittent fasting, a quick Google search on weight loss remedies will throw up a barrage of quick-fix diet solutions that are just a click away. While we’ve all made strides to curb those fast food cravings, and increase our intake of fresh produce, our consumerism enabled lives have also led to an increased level of food wastage. Therefore, in recent times the focus of the subject at hand has shifted from diet fads to more sustainable methods, from both a nutritional and environmental standpoint. Also Read – 5 Reasons Why You Are Struggling to Lose Belly Fat

Dr. Alifia S Bhol, Clinical Nutritionist, Lifestyle Therapist & Founder, NutriAl Diet Clinic highlights the importance of a Sustainable diet for weight loss and what does it entail. Also Read – Weight Loss Tip: Brain, Not Willpower, Decides if You Will Lose Weight Or Not

The UN’s themes for this year’s World Food Day, ‘Grow, nourish, sustain together. Our actions are our future’ acknowledges a collective effort towards combating the challenges of creating a food system that supplies healthy diets while reducing its environmental impacts for current and future generations. According to WHO, food production accounts for 20%-30% of global greenhouse gas emissions and up to 66% of water usage. This basically means that our food choice, production pathways, and household behaviours collectively, not only determine the impact of our diet on our health but on the environment as well. So when we use the term, ‘Sustainable diet’ what does it actually entail? Also Read – Second Wave Of COVID-19 in India, Experts Say Possibility of it Cannot Be Ruled Out in Winters

A sustainable diet will consist more of; vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, legumes, etc. and less of, red meat, processed foods, as well as refined and sugary foods. Basically, it includes food sources that are local, economical, can be naturally replenished, and result in fewer greenhouse emissions. There is a lot of literature available which states the importance of plant-based diets in the prevention and treatment of diseases. For example, decreasing animal protein leads to lower cholesterol levels, thus reducing the risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, cancer etc. Moving on to local food, it refers to locally and regionally grown foods. They are at their peak of nutrition and fairly economical. And that’s exactly why one should be consuming them in that highest state of packed nutrition.

Let’s look at an example

A South Indian lady has switched to Quinoa Pulav for dinner because her blood sugar was high. Well, Quinoa is not native, it’s not cheap and it’s not superior to other Indian millets or grains. So, the correct dietary intervention for her would have been to continue eating the Idli or Dosa, but adding a fibre source like vegetables to them, adding good fats like sesame to the chutney and including Ragi or barley in the batter. Now that’s a sustainable diet.

Now let’s talk about a Sustainable diet for weight loss

Your diet accounts for almost 80% of your weight loss journey. So, while you might be religiously following the latest diet trend, often, when you start to see little to no results, you’ll find yourself asking – Why isn’t it working? Is it a short-term solution? Or why are these diets considered a fad?

The answer lies in the question itself. They don’t work because they are short term. They don’t work because they are based on a theory of ‘superfoods’ which might not be local to your region. So something like having celery juice in the morning might lead people to think that it aids weight loss, but a more sustainable option would be drinking fresh Amla juice or fresh Moringa juice, which is local and equally effective.

Weight-loss diets are seen as a different genre of diets. But in reality, they are as simple as logical, mindful eating. Of course, weight-loss diets curated by a qualified and experienced local dietician will have a correct proportion and ratio of a lot of nutrients. But if the diet is not sustainable, the weight loss won’t be either and could lead to certain nutrient deficiencies. A weight-loss diet is majorly a fat loss diet and should always revolve around healthy eating rather than mindless eating. If it cannot be sustained for a long period, then it’s probably not for you.

At the end of the day, whether it’s for weight loss, other health concerns, or just the simple urge to sustain the planet we call home, being mindful and having a deep appreciation for the produce we have access to in our own backyards goes a long way. It’s less about stressing over the calorie count and more about nourishment. Remember, it’s about your relationship with food and not about your relationship with your weighing scale.

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