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Eating Green: Tips for Creating a Healthier Body and Planet

Eating Green: Tips for Creating a Healthier Body and Planet

Dietitian Dialogues

May 25, 2009

Green is the new black, at least in terms of how we live. We're all trying to reduce our carbon footprint by changing how we maintain our house as well as how we maintain our yard, shop, and drive. The list goes on and on. Eating green is no exception. 

“What works for weight loss and optimal health overlaps closely with greener eating – so it’s literally more energy efficient in every sense,” says Kate Geagan, MS RD, author of the recently released Go Green, Get Lean: Trim your Waistline with the Ultimate Low-Carbon Footprint Diet (Rodale, March 2009). 
You can eat green on any budget. The notion that green eating is expensive is a myth. According to Geagan, “Green eating actually helps save you green as well – eating less meat and more beans/legumes, ditching bottled beverages and using your tap more, and in general taking in less food – most Americans are eating way more calories than they actually need.”

Eating green doesn’t have to be difficult, and you can eat green on any budget. Here are a few ideas to get your customers started. They can start with one or two, or if they’re really committed to becoming as green as they can, suggest that they dive right into all of them.

Pack it up
Toss the take out menus in your office desk into the recycle bin. Start making your lunch at home and bringing it to work in reusable containers. It doesn’t have to be complicated. A simple sandwich along with some seasonal fruits and veggies makes a nutritious lunch. For an even easier-to-make meal put your dinner leftovers into a portable container as you clean up and tomorrow’s lunch is done. You’ll save money and calories as well as the planet.

Shop Smarter
There’s a good chance you’ve heard this one before because it helps you save money and eat healthier in addition to it being good for mother Earth. Plan a week’s worth of meals before heading to the grocery store. For one, you’ll save gas by eliminating multiple trips to the grocery store. Also, when you plan your meals ahead you can scan your pantry and fridge to see what you’ve got. This way you won’t end up buying unnecessary food that may go to waste. If more than one meal calls for the same ingredients, you may be able to buy in bulk and save on packaging as well. And of course, if you’re not already using your own bags, now’s a great time to start. 

Snack Wisely
The most beneficial change to be done here is to get rid of all of the packaged, processed munchies and snack only on fresh, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and nuts. But if that’s a stretch you can still make a difference with your snacking. Ban individually packaged products and switch to more bulk-like packages from which you can serve out individual portions (if you’re packing your snack – be sure to put it in a reusable container). So, instead of buying a box of 1 oz bags of nuts, buy a 16 oz can and dish out an ounce at a time. The same goes for 100-calorie packs, or other small packages of cookies, chips and crackers. 
According to the Environmental Protection Agency food scraps and yard trimmings make up almost one quarter of the United States solid waste. It’s a shame that something that can do such good is going to waste (pardon the pun) and filling up our landfills. If you’ve never composted before, you’ll be amazed at what you can throw in. I’m sure you can visualize the amount of garbage you toss weekly decreasing when you think about composting – not only your fruit and vegetable scraps, but also cardboard rolls, coffee grounds and filters, dryer and vacuum cleaner lint, eggshells, leaves, nut shells, and much more. For more information about what and how to compost check out the EPA’s website:

Retailers can save the planet on many levels. And encouraging our customers to bring their own shopping bags, choose more sustainably grown products, decrease their use of food packaging and cook more at home is a great place to start. Ready, Set, Go Green!

Heidi Reichenberger McIndoo, MS RD LDN, is a nutrition consultant, spokesperson, author and freelance writer with 17 years experience as a dietitian. Her specialty areas include nutrition education and communication. She’s the author of The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Superfoods and co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Low Sodium Meals.

As a nutritionist working for a supermarket, you have a unique outlook on how retailers are increasing health awareness at the store level and the kind of questions that shoppers ask. Each month, we'll be featuring a guest column, written by a nutritionist, that communicates this point of view on a variety of topics. And we want to hear from you. If you are a supermarket nutritionist interested in sharing your perspective and insights, we would love to help you share your thoughts! Please contact Allison Bloom at