How your diet impacts the water crisis

How your diet impacts the water crisis

The current water crisis in the Western Cape has drawn much attention to ideas around how to use water sparingly. It is a reality that is also faced by other parts of the country. Did you know that you can also save water through changing your food habits?

Here are 7 steps you can take to begin saving water:

1. Eat less meat
Switching from a meat-centred menu to a diet rich in vegetables and grains can save up to 2,500 L of water a day. Eating grass-fed and locally raised meat, eggs, and dairy products also can save water. Adopt at least one meat-free day per week.

2. Steam veggies
Apart from the preservation of nutrients, steaming is also a water-saving cooking method. For example, boiling a corn on the cob in a large pot may take 1 litre of water or more, whereas steaming uses up to 250 ml of water. If you must boil vegetables, save the water for your garden or soup stock.

3. Food waste is water waste
You pour out precious water with every morsel of food you throw in the trash. Be aware of your food’s shelf life. The more food you throw away due to spoilage, the more food production and water usage for food production increase. Compile a shopping list and buy only what you need, use leftovers to create new meals or donate food that you won’t be using to shelters.

4. Eat less processed foods
Diets that are made up of highly processed foods (like sweets, crisps, frozen potato chips and ready-made meals) also take a lot of water. Take, for example, a potato chip (as compared to a whole potato). After growing the potatoes – which takes the biggest portion of water – potato chip-processing takes additional water to clean potatoes and machinery, produce cooking oil for deep frying, produce the fuel for delivery, produce packaging etc. The water use increases above and beyond what it would take to produce and eat a whole potato.

5. Shop local
Participate by eating more seasonally and encouraging more regional agricultural production. Transporting food over long distances also requires large quantities of fuel that pollute the air, contribute to climate change and use a great volume of water. That's because it takes water to produce fuel.

6. Ditch the water bottle
The habit of drinking plastic bottled water, is one of the most unsustainable habits one can acquire. It’s not just fossil fuel intensive (from the creation of plastic bottles to transportation all over the country); nor an issue of heaping landfills from discarded water bottles. It takes an estimated 3 litres of water to produce 1 litre of bottled water because of the production process. Get a reusable water bottle and use it!

7. Eat in balance with your body
Have you ever thought that eating more food than what your body requires to sustain itself – is an unsustainable action? The average adult requires about 2000 calories daily to maintain a healthy body (depending on your age, gender and activity). When you exceed the energy that your body needs, you are basically wasting resources needed to produce that food. Living in balance with your body is one of the most important things you can do to live more sustainably during your lifetime – it’s also great for your health!

Check the water dam level and Day Zero online.





Claudine Ryan, Registered Dietitian, RD (SA)

Written by : Claudine Ryan, Registered Dietitian, RD (SA)

Claudine Ryan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics and is registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa. Claudine is passionate about people and their health, and enjoys helping others to optimise their health and manage their chronic lifestyle related diseases through sound nutritional therapy and practical advice.