Cutting Ultra-Processed Foods out of Your Diet Doesn’t Have to Break the Bank
The last few blogs have been dedicated to how bad ultra-processed foods are for our bodies. Moreover, based on research, eating healthier comes with a higher price tag. It’s a double-whammy.
But eating healthy doesn’t have to break the bank. It simply takes a little more time and planning. Here are 10 affordable ways to eat healthy.
- Plan ahead. This is our fatal error when it comes to snacking. Mid-morning munchies creep up on us, and we have nothing but vending machines and convenience stores to go to. Worse yet, we go grocery shopping without a list while we’re hungry. The lure of the center aisles will suck us in! Pack a snack the night before. Take an inventory of fruits and vegetables, snack items, and make a grocery list. Don’t do last-minute shopping or snacking.
- Slow down. Have you ever noticed we’re all in a hurry, all the time? The Slow Food Movement challenges the idea that everything has to be fast … and now. Returning to the slow pleasure of a good meal is a great way to avoid the heat-and-eat phenomenon we’re living today.
- Make more. Sauces, soups, chili and stews – make more quantity and freeze for the next week. This saves time and energy!
- In-season fruits, vegetables, and seafood are less expensive and more eco-friendly. Also, more variety in your diet provides your body with more needed nutrients.
- Waste less food by getting organized. Keep leftovers in clear Tupperware bins on a designated shelf. If there’s too much of one thing, freeze half of it (label and date it). Use food with a close expiration date first. When vegetables are getting older (broccoli and cauliflower, for instance), put them in a food processer and freeze them to add to sauces and soups later. Over 50% of all produce is thrown away in the United States (almost 60 million tons).
- Re-invent the sandwich. Sandwiches have been given a bad rap. They can be, though, incredibly nourishing, healthy, and economical. Whole-grain bread, pita bread, tortillas and bagels are all good options for carbs. Roll a whole-grain tortilla with peanut butter and apples. Pile pita bread with roasted chicken, cheese, and greens. Include crunchy veggies, sprouts, and fruits on your sandwich for texture and an added punch of nutrients. Replace packaged ham with roasted chicken chunks.
- Replace packaged chips and crackers with delicious finger foods: cut up carrot sticks, jicama, celery, cherry tomatoes … all to dip in a yogurt sauce and/or homemade hummus.
- Drink up! Forego the sweet stuff (which is costly and unhealthy) for a glass of water. Add lemon slices for a refreshing zing. Avoid bottled water – costly both on our budgets and the environment. Get your own water bottle and fill up.
- Satisfy your sweet tooth and re-train your taste buds with these smart substitutions.
- Healthy eating has long-term benefits and savings.
- The average cost of hypertension treatment for patients not covered by insurance is between $740 – $1,200 more per year.
- According to the American Diabetes Organization, those with diabetes have medical costs 2.3 times higher than those who do not.
- Chronic disease and cancer treatments are skyrocket high, including with insurance. According to the American Cancer Association, treatments add up to thousands of dollars each year.
We have to change our chip (pun intended … yes, groan!) for healthier eating options. Our future depends on it.
One of my favorite quotes is from Brian Andreas: “Everything changed the day she figured out there was exactly enough time for the important things in her life.” Make healthy eating one of those important things.