March is National Nutrition MonthPosted on 3/7/2012
It is difficult to think of any health topic more commonly discussed than healthy eating. Every time we turn on the TV or radio, we are bombarded with advertisements for health promotions or the latest diet plan. What many do not realize, however, is that there are simpler and less expensive options available to maintain a healthy weight and a happy heart. When we eat a healthy and complete diet, we provide our body with the nutrients it needs to keep going strong. By thinking about the food we eat and preparing meals to maximize our nutrient intake, we can feel satiated and energetic without unnecessary calories or cost.
Many individuals believe there is not time in their busy schedule or money in their budget to prepare healthy meals. By following some rules of thumb for cost savings, however, it is possible to stretch your food dollar to the max while still eating three healthy meals every day. Before your next trip to the supermarket, think about what you will buy. Evaluate the money you spend on snacks, soda, and other high calorie, low nutrient foods. These foods are a treat and only need to be purchased and eaten sparingly. Supplement these processed items with items in their most natural state. Opting for whole foods such as potatoes, fruits, veggies, and whole grains saves on costs and skips the chemicals and additives found in processed foods. Aim to spend about 40% of your food budget on fruits and veggies, which are an excellent source of nutrition and low in calories. Buying fresh produce only when in season and canned or frozen options can help to keep costs low. Purchasing whole grains in bulk is another way to save costs and pack in the nutrients. A breakfast of oatmeal, for example, will fill you up for less than one dollar per serving! Also, by adding only small amounts of meat to your meals or taking advantage of non-meat protein sources such as nuts, legumes, seeds, and dairy products you drastically reduce the amount you are spending.
Most of us cram far more into our daily schedule than seems possible to complete, so adding in meal preparation can seem overwhelming at first. It is important to consider, however, that while there is slightly more time required for planning and preparation, the time saved by not going out to eat or making multiple trips to the store each week will more than compensate for time lost. In addition, eating a healthy diet can help prevent the onset of chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, which are a huge financial burden and time commitment to cope with. This March forget the diet plans and the processed meals and satisfy your body and your budget with whole foods rich in nutrients and low in cost.