Go green with your diet
Heather Little-White, PhD, Contributor
'Green' may mean different things to different people. But those of us concerned with good health will think about 'greening' their diet. Your mother was wise when she prepared green vegetables for your meals and spent time coaxing you to eat them.
'Greening' meals means eating dark, green leafy vegetables as part of your five servings of fruit and vegetables every day. Greening the diet also means consuming 'green' beverages. To expand the term, greening means planting all the produce you can and use them for your meal. You will get food fresh from the soil that goes straight to your pot.
The first place to start in 'greening' your meals is in your backyard. It means that it will be easy to reap and you will save some money by eating what you grow. If you have a small yard, you can boost your space by using containers to grow the vegetables. You can get expert advice from the Rural Agriculture Development Authority as to what to plant when, where and how. Becoming a home-grown farmer is a healthy activity you want to encourage, as it provides exercise and stimulates the mind. This also strengthens food security at the household level.
Home-grown foods provide better nutrition than foods that are imported over thousands of miles to get to our tables. Nutrient content is diminished through packing, transportation and storage. Locally grown foods are best when picked fresh and used in food preparation shortly after. The seasonal foods that you reap can be prepared for freezing for use later in the year.
In the process of growing your own foods, you should go organic. Foods grown organically are better for your health as they are free from fertilisers or pesticides. Organic foods are better as you are at less risk for allergies, skin rashes and build-up of toxicity in the body.
If you move to a vegetarian diet, you will eliminate meat and dairy from your diet. Research has shown that antioxidants, phyto-chemicals and other health-enhancing nutrients are found in vegetables, the basis of a vegetarian diet. With a balanced vegetarian diet, you can get all the nutrients you need. Gradually start eliminating meat slowly and increase the amounts of vegetables and produce in your diet.
Raw foods mean foods that are uncooked or unprocessed. In their raw state, these foods live in transmitting direct energy to the body, some of which would be loss with processing and packaging.
As you develop your backyard garden, you can return peelings through composting back to the garden. Make the compost from peelings, wilted vegetables and fruit and from vegetables children refuse to eat.
Water is life
Fresh water is arguably the most undervalued resource on the planet. Its value as a commodity increases every day. Fresh, clean water is worth far more than the most precious metal or gem. Drink a clean, safe-source drinking water instead of canned soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, coffee or bottled sports drinks. Water is the only beverage your body needs.
Complementing the foods you plant, you should plant fragrant herbs and spices. These reduce your dependence on sodium-laden seasonings for the foods you prepare. Organic spices and herbs are more readily available than ever, and you should turn over your spice inventory frequently so the spices you buy are as fragrant and delicious as possible when you are ready to use them. Common herbs and spices include basil, cinnamon, cumin, chili powder, allspice, bay leaves, oregano, paprika, thyme and sage.
As you green your diet, you will find that you will be a healthier person and you will also contribute to saving the environment.