The Planetary Health Diet

So, news is out today of a new ‘diet’ (technically a healthy eating plan but ‘diet’ sells) that claims it will help save the planet and save lives: The Planetary Health Diet

There is no getting away from the environmental impact our modern diets are having on the World and on our waist lines, and whilst I believe that as humans we do need some animal proteins in our diet, I also agree we should all be eating more plant foods.

So I was intrigued by this story today and thought I’d break it down a bit further, as being told you can have 13g of egg and 300g of vegetables doesn’t really make it very user-friendly … unless you love weighing food and have the time to do so!

Breaking down The Planetary Health Diet

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So, for us meat eaters, red meat is the biggest thing that has to be reduced.  Their recommendation is to reduce consumption to one burger or a large steak a month. 

Chicken and fish are still ok to have, but in smaller amounts.  So, they advise 28g of fish/chicken a day – well that’s about ¼ salmon fillet or chicken breast, or ½ tin of small tuna.  Not very practical so another way of looking at it is to have 1 chicken breast or salmon fillet every four days!

50g nuts a day is 10 Brazil nuts, a small handful or ½ cup of almonds, 12 walnuts or 25 cashew nuts.

Beans, chickpeas and lentils works out at about 2 tbsp or 1/3 tin

Eggs, and this is the bit I would struggle with is, is 13g a day?! One egg is 50g so that would be one egg every 3-4 days … yikes!

 Veggies is then 300g a day – well one portion is 80g so that’s just shy of 4 portions a day, together with 200g of fruit which would then give you another 2-3 servings, so you’ll top out at 6 portions of fruit and veg a day.  I’m not sure many of my clients get their five a day so this bit I like!

Then there’s the carbs!  232g (to be precise) of whole grains like rice and bread.  One slice of wholegrain bread is about 40g so, two slices of toast a day + ½ cup of quinoa with lunch + ½ cup of brown rice with dinner and you’ll be there.  Oh, and then starchy veg, which are things like potatoes, sweet potatoes, beetroot and parsnips – 50g is not a lot.  About ½ small potato, a small beetroot or 1 tbsp parsnip a day!

I can see where they are going with this, although the carb element is a little higher than I would normally advise my clients to have in a day.  I also don’t think the protein levels (both animal and plant proteins such as beans and legumes) are high enough for adequate blood sugar balancing for most people.

 How to go more plant based

  • Maybe start with one dinner or day a week being completely vegetarian as jumping from lots of meat to no meat can be a challenge, and these kind of dietary changes need planning, so you don’t end up grabbing convenience food on your way home!

  • Do you get 5-6 portions of fruit and veg a day?  If not, maybe start here and begin to add more colour to your plate. 

    • Have a piece of fruit with breakfast

    • 2 veggie portions with lunch – one portion being about a large handful

    • A piece of fruit (with some nuts) as a mid-afternoon snack

    • And three more veggie portions (potatoes not included) with dinner

    • Bingo – 6 portions a day!

  • Cut red meat down to no more than once a week if you are a big red meat eater and build from there

  • Slowly add beans and lentils to your diet, starting with 1 portion every 2-3 days.  Going big with the lentils could make you a bit windy or bloated if you’re not used to this level of extra fibre!

  • Batch cook a load of roast veggies on a Sunday and you can use them during the week or blend them into a soup

  • Keep frozen fruit and veggies in the freezer for convenience and no excuses!

  • Buy pre-cooked beans, lentils and grains for ease as I for one never remember to soak them overnight!