Overdone it on the ice cream and barbecue burgers?
If summer has left you ready for a diet overhaul, a team of University College Cork researchers wants to help you get started – all while saving the planet.
The UCC School of Food and Nutritional Sciences is conducting research into how best to develop dietary guidelines that will help to protect and promote health, as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions – one of the contributors to climate change.
As part of the ‘My Planet Diet’ study, researchers are seeking volunteers who will participate in a 12-week project, with benefits including feedback on their existing diet and tailored nutritional advice from a qualified nutritionist. Participants will also be provided with personalised resources and recipes along the way.
The study will also look at whether these guidelines can provide people with the sufficient nutrients they require, in comparison to a healthy diet that does not take environmental impact into account.
To help inform the study, the researchers will collect information on participants’ dietary intake, analyse nutrient levels in their urine and blood, and take measurements such as weight, height, and blood pressure.
According to UCC PhD researcher Ursula Leonard, there are a number of easy ways to make your diet more planet-friendly.
Easy ways to eat healthier while helping the planet
Simply adding plant-based protein sources such as beans, chickpeas, and lentils to your diet to complement protein sources from animal foods is a good start, as is increasing your intake of whole grains and avoiding white, refined grains.
“This could be achieved by opting for porridge oats or Weetabix for breakfast, wholemeal bread for lunch, and brown rice or pasta for dinner,” said Leonard.
She also recommends aiming for a minimum of two portions of fruit and a handful of unsalted nuts or seeds every day.
“This will help displace high energy-low nutrient foods such as biscuits, sweets, chocolate, and crisps, which contribute to excess energy intake and weight gain, and generate carbon emissions during production without providing nutritional value.”
Choosing tap water as your beverage of choice and using leftovers for lunch the following day are two more simple changes that will make your diet healthier and benefit the environment.
Fancy taking part in the study? More information is available by emailing Ursula Leonard: email@example.com