It's inevitable: As soon as January 1 rolls around, the whole country seems to be talking about going on a diet, losing weight, or starting an exercise regimen. Don't get me wrong: they're all noble goals. But research shows that you're more likely to stick with your new resolution if you've got some external accountability, like a friend who's counting on you to show up to go running every day—or how about the whole planet? These eco-friendly diet tips will help you clean up your diet and the planet at the same time while losing weight.
- Shift 10 percent of your food budget to local food. How does this help your waistline? Locally produced food is apt to be higher quality, even if it is higher calorie, so hopefully you can eat less and be more satisfied. Plus, eating locally is extremely good for the environment and for your local foodshed. Local food is a little more expensive, so maybe you can cut out your potato chip or ice cream budget in favor of local produce, beans and meats. Can't commit to 10 percent? Try 5 percent. Or even just commit to buying one thing locally that you used to buy from far away. Every dollar counts.
- Eat more veggies. Add a vegetable to your plate at every single meal—even snacks! This one simple change could have big health impacts for you and if you swap even a little bit of meat, cheese, or grains out for that veggie, you'll be having an impact, as certainly all meats and dairy, and most grains, are more water and energy intensive to grow than good old fashioned veggies.
- Give up chain restaurants. If you're going to eat out, try to make it at a place that's locally owned and operated. Locally owned restaurants are more likely to support local farmers and food producers than mega chains, and they're much less likely to put weird chemicals and other unpronouncable stuff in their food (ahem, McDonalds, cough cough). It'll help your waistline because you won't be so tempted by every drive thru you see if you've sworn off mega chains.
- Switch to ethically raised meat and organic dairy. Unless you're indpendantly wealthy, you're likely to feel this one in your pocketbook—but that's a good thing. By committing to only eating ethically raised meat, organic dairy, and free-range eggs, you're likely to be able to afford, and therefore eat, fewer animal products overall. And that's good for your weight and your planet. You don't have to go vegan to see the impact; even eating meat one less day a week has a big cumulative effect.
- Walk to run short errands. If you can walk (or bike) to do any of your regular errands—grocery store, dry cleaner, post office, etc.—make a resolution to do it. For example, I don't want to cart home a week's worth of groceries on foot, but if I have to run to the store for something mid-week, I always try to walk. You'll be reducing your carbon footprint and your actual footprint with all that exercise you'll be getting.
image by Jonathan D. Blundell