Lesson 2: How to eat healthy food

Healthy diets have an optimal caloric intake and consist largely of a diversity of plant-based foods, low amounts of animal source foods, contain unsaturated rather than saturated fats, and limited amounts of refined grains, highly processed foods and added sugars.

Although the planetary health diet, which is based on health considerations, is consistent with many traditional eating patterns, it does not imply that the global population should eat exactly the same food, nor does it prescribe an exact diet.

Table: Scientific targets for a planetary health diet, with possible ranges, for an intake of 2500 kcal/day.

An integrated agenda for food in the Anthropocene recognizes that food forms an inextricable link between human health and environmental sustainability. The global food system must operate within boundaries for human health and food production to ensure healthy diets from sustainable food systems for nearly 10 billion people by 2050.

Scientific objectives define the safe operating space for food systems and are represented here by the orange ring. The wedges represent dietary patterns or food production.and together they reflect various dietary patterns that may or may not meet scientific goals for human health and environmental sustainability, that is, outside the safe operating space. These dietary patterns can be “healthy and unsustainable” (win-lose), “unhealthy and unsustainable” (lose-win), “unhealthy and unsustainable” (lose-lose) and “healthy and sustainable” (win-win).