How to eat to save the planet whilst building a better relationship with food

KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian

January 23rd 2019

We hear a lot about the small changes we can make to help save the planet.  

– Limiting use of single use plastic bags. 

– Using a keep cup when we buy coffee.

– Catching public transport to work.   

But what about when it comes to eating? Are there some simple things we can do to eat more sustainably?  

Yes, there are.   

A new report released by the EAT-Lancet Commission has recommended a number of ways that we can reduce our carbon footprint through our daily eating patterns 

In a nutshell (no pun intended), the report suggests that we eat: 

  • mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes and unsaturated oils 
  • a low to moderate amount of poultry and seafood; and  
  • low amount (or none at all) of starchy vegetables, red meat, processed meats, added sugar, refined grains 

The report states that this way of eating would not only improve the health of the environment, but humans too. Food systems would change accordingly and result in being able to feed a healthy diet to the global population of nearly 10 billion by 2050. 

In theory, this sounds amazing!  

But this type of eating will not work for everyone. And that’s totally ok!  


While eating more wholegrains, fruit, vegetables and legumes is a great step forward to increase health, following a plant-based diet can sometimes be a cover for disordered eating. Becoming vegetarian or vegan can often be the diets that people who have weight concerns turn to in bid to lose weight.  

These recommendations could be triggering for people who are still working to heal their relationship with food. It’s important that any time we talk about rigidity in eating, that we be mindful of how that could lead some of us into the trap of restriction and deprivation in an attempt to lose weight.

As soon as we start cutting out certain things, whether it’s red meat or dairy products as in this casewe may find ourselves in the restriction-deprivation-binge eating cycle.  

So if you’re really keen to adjust what you eat based on this new report, I’d encourage you to double check the reasons why you’d like to do it.

If we start restricting ourselves, we’re going feel deprived. And if we’re deprived, we’re unlikely to feel satisfied when we eat.

This can then lead to a binge eating episode where we eat past the feeling of comfortable fullness. Which then turns to guilt and feelings of failure to “stick to the diet”. But just remember, restriction is not sustainable. If you’d a like a little reminder on why diets don’t work, feel free to have a read of this blog post

While this report is to be commended for its commitment to helping save the planet, it is still ok for us to eat and enjoy all foods, particularly if we’re still learning to find food peace.