The obesity crisis in America not only drains the health care system, it also prevents millions of individuals from experiencing the highest quality of life possible. A Gallup poll in 2012 revealed that more than one in four Americans is classified as obese. This problem encompasses all ages, races, sexes, and socio-economic groups. It is no secret that the combination of a poor diet and lack of exercise are the root causes of this epidemic. Even for those not suffering from a weight problem, dining on healthy fare should be a goal, because it is simply the right thing to do. Take it from the “Father of Medicine” – Hippocrates: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
Many often make the excuse that eating healthy is just too expensive. Here are some suggestions that dispel that rumor!
No this is not an oxymoron. Now more than ever, it is easier to find locally grown and organic produce. It is still taking some time for supply to keep up with the demand, however, taking the time to seek out produce that is both local and organic should yield some positive results.
The idea of a more plant-based diet has really taken off in the past few years with bestsellers like, “Food Matters” and “Forks Over Knives.” Incorporating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains into the diet is always going to be beneficial. If those products are organic – great; however, if that is not a cost-effective option, don’t worry. It is still far better to include them in your diet, organic or not. The annually updated food lists from the Environmental Working Group, known as the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen,” are helpful resources for making wise choices.
The whole foods healthy basics are super cheap, especially when you buy in bulk. Be aware that many of these items keep longer in the refrigerator or freezer, so free up some space. Healthy bulk item suggestions are: brown rice, oatmeal, steel cut oats, quinoa, dry beans, raw nuts and seeds, stone ground grits, cornmeal, flours, dried fruits, and even pasta.
Skip Soft Drinks
Despite the fact that soda has been linked to obesity, diabetes, dental health problems and other health risks, Americans continue to consume sugary carbonated beverages. A recent Gallup poll revealed that 48% of Americans drink soda on a daily basis. A March 2013 article in the Huffington Post reported that sugary drinks are associated with 180,000 deaths around the world:
“As many as 180,000 deaths around the world are linked with sugary drink consumption, according to new research presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association.
Specifically, sugar-sweetened drinks — including sodas, sports drinks and fruit drinks — are linked with 133,000 deaths from diabetes, 6,000 deaths from cancer, and 44,000 deaths from heart disease.”
Why then would anyone pursuing a healthy lifestyle waste money on this liquid poison? Make your own soda with real fruit juice and seltzer water. It’s healthy, natural, fizzy, tastes incredibly better than the artificial stuff, and beats soda every time in terms of a common sense alternative!
Join a Farmer’s Cooperative
In many communities, farmers’ cooperatives exist. They provide the chance for members to buy direct and sell weekly or monthly food boxes of a combination of in-season items. Some may even offer baked goods, dairy products, eggs, seafood and meats. They are all independent and operate differently. That is, some may require a small start up fee in the winter to pay for seeds and plants; others may ask that you pick up, while some may deliver. Your local Agricultural Extension Service should be able to direct you to such an organization.
Grow Your Own-Make Your Own
The rewards of growing your own fruits, veggies, and herbs are priceless. Not only is it an excellent learning opportunity, it gets you outside and is a productive and healthy way to spend a little time. Of course not everyone has a sunny spot for a home garden, which is why growing herbs inside is a nice option.
Learning to make your own food products is another step on the path to maintaining a healthy diet on a budget. Cookbooks from the library and millions of YouTube videos will amp up your cooking skills in no time! Freezing, canning, and using inexpensive appliances such as a slow cooker and dehydrator, allow a home cook to save hundreds of dollars each year – think soups, stews, kale chips, jerky, dog treats, power bars, and so on. Additionally, your end product will be free of bad ingredients and tailor made to suit the tastes of your family!
Here’s a fun idea: With summer fast approaching, why not try making your own popsicles? Read the ingredients in the ones at the super market in case you need a little incentive! Invest in some sturdy molds and blend up some fresh fruit choices like mango orange, pineapple banana, watermelon lime, cinnamon peach, coconut, and homemade fudgesicles – a definite favorite!