Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Difficult but not Insurmountable (a.k.a. Heathly Eating on a Budget)

If you follow my Twitter feed (MichaelPeeples1), then you might have seen a recent article I posted from Bodybuilding.com about "The 5 Cheapest Health Foods Money Can Buy." The article hit upon a theme I had already begun this post about so the timing of its publication worked out well.
 
I've talked about the love of cooking before and how, like any hobby of love, the initial costs can be high. What I didn't discuss was the average costs of the average family just trying to eat a healthier diet and how it can seem impossible to both eat better quality food while not breaking the bank.

People of all level of fitness, either the super fit or the overweight, face the delimma of costs versus health. A lot of today's food in the grocery stores and supermarkets will fill us up,  but can also leave us nutritionally incomplete. Efforts to break free of nutritional starvation can seem more difficult than a normal person with a normal busy schedule can handle.

For instance, sodium - a recent study showed that nearly everyone in the United States exceeds the federally recommended sodium level on a daily basis and that 90% of our sodium intake comes already packaged in our foods. So even if people stop salting their food, they still will be getting way more sodium than they should.  To reduce their sodium, people have to actively seek out alternatives or make it themselves. Soups serve as a good example, even the "low sodium" among them has high sodium levels. A person can take the time to prepare and make sodium free soup, but if pressed for time, it's much simpler to just open a can and pop it in the microwave.

But the first few steps are rather easy and inexpensive. You don't have to go out and buy a whole lot of exotic foods to do so. You can start with your next trip to the grocery store.  

1. Read the Labels - this is your most powerful weapon. It doesn't get any easier than this.

2. Educate Yourself - the more you read, the smarter you'll become.
There are a ton of articles in magazines and on the web plus more than a few published books on the matter to help us navigate a way to a healthier diet while keeping the costs down. Also check your local library. (Stay away from the sensational publications, though, they're just fad diet crap - you can usually spot them by their titles.) And while you may not put into practice everything you've read, at least you start making smarter choices from time to time. It's like the old axiom, "Baby steps."

3. Stay away from food you know is junk food - I used to think everyone knew the difference between real food and junk food. I was wrong. I've had friends say they don't want to give up "real" food for healthy food. When I asked what "real" food was, they listed off a bunch of junk food items, including potato chips and mayonnaise. So learn what is "real" and what is "junk" and try to avoid the junk as much as you can.

4. If you must buy can vegetables, at least wash them off prior to cooking - it helps reduce the amount of sodium.

4. Avoid processed sugar and sugar additives as much as you can. This includes artificial sweeteners.

Those few steps alone can increase your overall level of health while not increasing the overall impact to your pocketbook.

Until Next Time...
Watch this fitness couple stock up their kitchen by looking for sale items and reading tags and labels. I don't agree with all the choices they make, but it's good general advice.

Budgetly Yours,
Michael