OUR ACTIONS ARE OUR FUTURE. HEALTHY DIETS.
FOR A #ZEROHUNGER WORLD.
In recent decades, we have dramatically changed our diets and eating habits as a result of globalization, urbanization and income growth.
We have moved from seasonal, mainly plant-based and fibre-rich dishes to diets that are high in refined starches, sugar, fats, salt, processed foods, meat and other animal-source products. Less time is spent preparing meals at home, and consumers, especially in urban areas, increasingly rely on supermarkets, fast food outlets, street food vendors and take-away restaurants.
A combination of unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyles has sent obesity rates soaring, not only in developed countries, but also low-income countries, where hunger and obesity often coexist. Now over 670 million adults and 120 million girls and boys (5-19 years) are obese, and over 40 million children under 5 are overweight, while over 820 million people suffer from hunger.
An unhealthy diet is the leading risk factor for deaths from non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and certain cancers. Linked with one fifth of deaths worldwide, unhealthy eating habits are also taking a toll on national health budgets costing up to USD 2 trillion per year.
Obesity and other forms of malnutrition affect nearly one in three people. Projections indicate that the number will be one in two by 2025. The good news is that affordable solutions exist to reduce all forms of malnutrition, but they require greater global commitment and action.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP ACHIEVE HEALTHY DIETS AND
Remember that good eating habits are only part of the solution. You also need to have a fit and active lifestyle – sit around less, get up, dance, walk or excersice ! Here’s a list of simple actions to help you make healthy eating and #ZeroHunger a way of life.
- CHECK OUT THE RECOMMENDATIONS IN YOUR COUNTRY’S DIETARY GUIDELINES!
Dietary guidelines in your country provide advice on how to make sure you get enough nutrients to be healthy and prevent chronic disease. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) supports countries in the development, updating and implementation of these dietary guidelines, which are also used to develop nutrition policies and education programmes.
- WHAT TO ADD
Eat plenty of fresh and seasonal vegetables and fruits on a daily basis and find ways to add more legumes, nuts and whole grains to your diet. Legumes and nuts are great sources of plant-based protein. What’s more, legumes can be cheaper than animal proteins. They’re also kinder on our planet because they require less water to produce. Try also to eat fish species that are more abundant.
- WHAT TO REDUCE
We need to cut back on industrially processed foods high in fat, sugar and/or salt and try not to eat excessive amounts of meat and other animal-source products. Whenever you can, try to switch ‘white’ refined starches for their brown, more nutritious equivalents (brown rice, wholemeal flour and brown bread etc.).
- GET TO KNOW YOUR FATS
While unsaturated fats (found in fish, nuts, and in sunflower, soybean, canola and olive oils) are part of a healthy diet, you need to watch your intake of industrially produced trans-fats found in fried foods, among others. At the same time, we need to limit the amount of saturated fats we consume (found in fatty meat, butter etc.).
- REDUCE YOUR FOOD PRINT
Consider the environmental impact of the foods we eat. Some foods require a significant amount of water to produce. You could try replacing one meat meal a week with another source of protein – like legumes for instance – or an all-veggie meal. Also try to avoid buying foods that have excessive amounts of packaging.
- DIVERSIFY FOR BIODIVERSITY
Diversify your diet by adding traditional, locally grown and seasonal foods, in an effort to support biodiversity. Learn about their nutritional values and look up some recipes to cook meals using these ingredients.
- TAKE ACTION AT WORK OR IN YOUR COMMUNITY
Talk to your employers about making sure that there are healthier meal choices in vending machines at work or even in a cafeteria, if you work in a big organization that has one. Encourage local officials to make sure there are healthier choices available in child-care centres, schools and youth clubs.
- GET LABEL LITERATE
Learn to understand food labels so you can choose a healthy diet. Labels provide information on energy (usually calories) and key nutrients such as salt, sugar and fat. The ingredients list helps you understand how nutritious a product is. Food labels also help us to make sure our food is safe to eat. Sometimes food is still safe to eat after the “best before” date, whereas it’s the “use by” date that tells you when it’s no longer safe to eat or drink.
- BE A CRITICAL CONSUMER
Don’t let packaging sway you: pay attention to the nutritious value of food, not what it looks like, or how nice the packaging is. Pay attention to common words used to advertise foods like “zero,””low in “and “light.” . They’re often used to make food sound more nutritious, but it isn’t always true…
- REKINDLE OLD TRADITIONS
In most cultures, meals are consumed, in the company of family and friends. Today, many of us spend too little time preparing meals at home due to busy lifestyles and we rely increasingly on street food vendors, supermarkets, fast food outlets, or takeaway restaurants. Eating in company is important for our health and the health of your children. Researchers have linked this with lower rates of obesity and eating disorders in children and adolescents, and general wellbeing.
- MAKE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY PART OF YOUR DAY, EVERY DAY
For adults, the general recommendation is to dedicate at least 2.5 hours to physical activity each week. This includes leisure time, sports, walking or cycling to work, or physical activity you carry out during the week, both at work or at home. Children and youth should dedicate at least 60 minutes to physical activity each day, through play, sports, commuting or physical education.
- HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU ABOUT RESPECT FOR FOOD
Food connects us all. Help people re-connect with food for a #ZeroHunger lifestyle and what it stands for by sharing your knowledge with the people around you; at home with your family, with friends and at work. For example, learn to cook and swap recipes, grow your own food at home, participate in a community garden or organize dinners with friends.
Food Based dietary guidelines
Food-based dietary guidelines differ per region. Have a look what’s recommended in YOUR REGION here. For my home country The Netherlands, you can find the dietary guidelines HERE.