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UC San Diego Wellness

Health and Wellness

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We are now officially in March, which means it is National Nutrition Month!  

National Nutrition Month is an annual nutrition education and information campaign to help people learn how to make informed food choices and develop healthful eating and exercise habits. Fun fact: 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of National Nutrition Month. 

This year’s theme, Fuel for the Future, highlights the importance of fueling our bodies at every age and eating with sustainability in mind. Sustainable eating is choosing foods that are both helpful for the planet as well as our bodies.

Join us the UCSD Registered Dietitian, Melody Sayers, for weekly nutrition tips, which highlight ways to make healthier food choices, live a longer life, and prevent disease, all while keeping sustainability in mind.



According to the WorldWatch Institute, food typically travels 1,500-2,000 miles from farm to plate. A study in Iowa tracked a single carton of yogurt 2,211 miles just to get to the processing plant. In Sweden, another study found that a typical Swedish breakfast consisting of an apple, bread, butter, cheese, coffee, cream, orange juice, and sugar traveled the circumference of the earth just to get to the plate.

When we eat foods that are grown locally, we:

Help reduce the amount of fossil fuels used for long-distance transportation. We support the local economy = keeps $$ in the community.

From a nutrition standpoint, food that is locally grown and gets to your plate faster has more of its nutrients intact. The transportation, storage, and retail shelf condition all reduce the bioavailability of nutrients in varying amounts. In fact, one study found that 30% of nutrients were lost In just three days! So, the quicker the food gets to us, the fresher it is, the tastier it is, and the better it is for our health. 

Next time you go grocery shopping, look for options from local farms.  When possible, check out local farmers markets or consider participating in a community-supported agriculture (also known as CSA) program. By far the most sustainable option for buying local, would be to grow some of your own food. Or you can pay a visit to one of UCSD's 12 gardens on campus. For a full list visit:  

No matter which option suits you best, every effort counts. If we each do our part to buy food locally, not only will we help ensure we are getting more nutrients from our food, but we will help the planet as well as the local economy. 


This week's tip is: Reduce Food Waste

Did you know that 30-40% of the U.S. food supply is wasted? Consumers are directly responsible for upwards of two-thirds of that food waste. Food waste makes up 1/3 of landfill waste, where it creates greenhouse gas emissions. Not to mention all the soil, water, energy, fertilizer, carbon emissions, and labor costs that go into the production of food that is never consumed in the first place. 

Reducing food waste all means cost savings for you. Throwing away food is the equivalent of throwing away $$ in the trash, compost, or down the garbage disposal. 

Here are some helpful ways you can reduce food waste:

1) Make a shopping list before you go grocery shopping and cross reference it with items you already have at home. By creating a shopping list, this ensures you aren't double buying any items you already have while saving you time in the aisles. Less items = less packaging = less money spent = less waste

2) If you shop at bulk stores (i.e. Costco, Sam's Club, Stater Brothers), go in on the deals with others. This ensures you take only the quantity you will use while dividing the rest of the items up with family, friends, coworkers, or neighbors for a fraction of the price. Everyone will save money and no one will be left with a large quantities of spoiled food 

3) Use food that is expiring the soonest first. When thinking about what meals to make, build your meals around the foods that are expiring first. Repurpose foods into: soups, stir fries, frittatas, baked goods, smoothies, bowls, pastas, etc. This will help you avoid wasting perfectly good food and you may even create a new favorite dish in the process!

4) Not using it? Consider donating it to a family member, neighbor, coworker, friend, a person in need, or your local food bank. 

5) Recycle and compost correctly. Depending on the city you live in, there are items that can and cannot be recycled. Check your local (.gov) websites for all your county's recycling information. Here is helpful link with some general recycling information:

 Nutrition month tip 3

This week’s tip is: Choose Greener Protein Options

Plant-based protein foods offer several health benefits, help prevent disease, and cost less. Far less energy is needed to produce plant-based foods such as: soy, chickpeas, split peas, beans, and lentils when compared to animal sources. These foods have some of the lowest carbon footprints, are drought tolerant, and reduce the need for fertilizers. Additionally, 50% of these foods are grown in developing countries, aiding in the local economy as well as food security. Whole grains, which also supply some protein, are another sustainable food. Eating more whole-grains can feed more people with less land and deliver nutrients back to the soil. 

Here are some ways to add greener protein foods to your diet:
- Participate in Meatless Mondays
- Plan at least one night per week to try a new vegetarian recipe
- Substitute lentils for ground beef in dishes like tacos, chili, and meatballs
- Consider adding hummus and edamame as snacks during the day
- Prepare your favorite cultural recipes using a plant-based protein option instead 
- Make a rice bowl with quinoa + beans instead of white rice + beef
- Experiment with tofu and tempeh
- Reduce your portion of meat to no more than a 1/4 of the plate at meals      


Check out the enrollment-based programs that UC San Diego has to offer!

Get involved!

UC San Diego has multiple ways you can make wellness part of your career. Find out more about Wellness Ambassadors, Community/campus events, Volunteer Opportunities, and the Staff Association.

Contact Wellness Manager