A healthy diet is a sustainable diet and the New Nordic Diet may just be the answer to some of the world’s food ills, according to experts in public health nutrition.
“Many countries have developed dietary guidelines. But there is now increased recognition that sustainability needs also be part of those,” Dr. Liv Elin Torheim, Professor in Public Health Nutrition at Oslo and Akershus University College, told those at the side event “Ensuring nutritious diets in a climate constrained world” at the 43rd Committee on World Food Security (CFS43). These national dietary guidelines should not only recommend what to eat, but how food should be produced. They should be developed in each country.
To reduce greenhouse gas emissions in food production we have to make diets more sustainable. But many countries do not have national, official dietary guidelines, especially lower-income countries. Of those countries that do have national dietary guidelines, only a handful include environmental sustainability: Germany, Sweden, Qatar and Brazil. These countries promote a diet and food system that is healthy and sustainable and they all emphasise the benefits of plant-based diets for the environment and for health.
What is a sustainable healthy diet? What is healthy goes hand in hand with what is sustainable. That means a diet including fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains and limited amounts of food high in fat and sugar.
The New Nordic Diet represents such a diet, according to Dr. Susanne Gjedsted Bügel, Professor of Human Nutrition at the University of Copenhagen. Developed in 2004 in Copenhagen, the Diet integrates cuisines from the five Nordic countries. It consist of more fish and seasonal vegetables and fruit. It contains low fat, less meat and sweets, and avoids processed food. This diet seems to be healthier. It features food that is locally and organically produced.
The New Nordic Diet is a prototype of health, food culture palatability and takes environmental issues into account. This diet could be applied in any region in the world according to Dr. Gjedsted Bügel.
So, it’s time for action. All stages of food production need to address these aspects of health and sustainability. Only then will this lead to relative changes in food consumption and production. So can you imagine a world where the Nordic diet is on every restaurant menu?
Curious about other side events taking place at the CFS? Check out the events blog.
Photo Credit: Chuttersnap on Unsplash