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Eating healthy when you live alone can be difficult! If you’ve ever fallen guilty of choosing McDonald’s instead of cooking for yourself, if you don’t know how to grocery shop, prefer not to, or, if you simply want to be more health and environmentally conscious, this article is for you!
Grace Hayse, 23, earned her bachelor’s degree in environmental management and human ecology from Indiana University-Bloomington. Originally, though, Hayse was dead set on going to Sullivan University, she said, a culinary school in Kentucky.
“I was raised in a family where everyone knew how to cook,” she said. “From a young age, food was very special to me.”
During her junior year of high school, however, she took her first environmental science course and fell in love, she said.
“I did a complete 180 after that year,” Hayse said. “I promised myself that I would become the person that would strive to protect the planet—cut to the present day where I just graduated with a degree in environmental science.”
Hayes’s love for the environment quickly merged with her love for food, she said, noting that being health conscious also meant being conscious of the world around her. Two years ago, she started her own food blog—Going Green with Grace.
How do you educate yourself on the dos and don’ts of food?
“First of all, it does not matter if you are a vegan, vegetarian or a major carnivore,” Hayse said. “You need to be aware of where your food is coming from.”
1. Be aware of what you are putting into your body and,
2. Where the food is coming from – click here to find local farmers markets and vendors in your area (save this tab for future shopping!)
If, for example, you live in the Midwest and constantly buy exotic fruits and vegetables, then your carbon footprint is probably way worse that someone who might purchase meat from local farms, Hayse said.
She also recommends following different social media accounts and blogs about the environment, in order to force yourself to be aware, even when so many others are not, she said.
“I personally do not eat meat, and I do not judge others for doing so, but I do ask people to become more aware of what exactly they are eating,” she wrote in an email, noting that processed foods are a “major thumbs-down.”
Hayes’s go-to grocery items:
LOTS of kale—it has more iron than steak, she said. You can eat it in a salad, make kale chips, sauté it with garlic and soy sauce or put it in a smoothie!
Chickpeas (dried or canned)
Coconut milk (high in calcium and better for the environment)
Buy SEASONAL vegetables and fruits –it is way easier than you think, she said. Right now, living in Indiana, she is in the colder months so, she is eating lots of kale and sweet potatoes, she said. Seasonal options look different for everyone depending on where you live.
How do you eat healthy / environment-conscious on a budget?
Keep an actual budget for each week – Hayse keeps a budget of about $40 to $50 each week.
Shop at Aldi or other discount grocery chains
Consider less meat product –Being vegetarian means Hayse is spending less money on meat since her main proteins are beans and tofu, she said, both are very versatile foods. There is nothing wrong with eating meat, she said, but it does rack up a grocery bill.
Make items at home that you would normally buy pre-made –things like hummus, guacamole and oat flour are much cheaper if you make them yourself.
KEY TIP: Keep reusable grocery and produce bags in your car to eliminate the need for plastic bags at the store.
Beginning the transition:
“When it comes to healthier eating, the first tip I always tell people is to not be so hard on yourself,” Hayse said. “I believe we are on this planet to eat and enjoy food, however, it is also important that you listen to your body.”
Human bodies deserve whole, fresh foods, she said. Foods that have been intensely refined and processed are beyond any nutritional benefit.
It takes one week for your entire body, all your cells and organs, to regenerate. Consciously eating healthy, even just for a week, will allow you to see how amazing you feel, she said. When this happens, your entire body literally becomes what you eat—one week!
Recipe from Hayse to YOU! – Brown Rice Veggie Bowl with Tofu and Ginger Peanut Sauce (click here for full directions)
Ingredients for Veggie Stir Fry:
2 carrots sliced
2 cups broccoli florets
2 small yellow squash sliced
1 green pepper chopped
2-3 glove garlic minced
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1 package tofu cubed and pat dry with towel
2 cups brown rice (Package directions)
As always, thank you for reading! If you have any other tips, resources or questions regarding food, the environment or a combination of both, please comment below! Subscribe to The Learning Curve for FREE today!