The current state of the nation has millions striving to stretch every dollar. Often the first place people seek to save is at the grocery store – swapping fresh healthy foods for processed foods. This paradox is leading the nation down a deadly path of excess weight and chronic disease. But, the fact of the matter is – eating healthy doesn’t have to cost you a bundle.
“Are you really saving your health with all that extra money you are spending in ‘organic’ foods? In a word, no.”
Contrary to what hundreds of books, magazines and websites might tell you, you don’t have to eat expensive organic foods to be healthy. In fact, if you are paying extra for organic foods sitting on grocery store shelves, you aren’t even getting a truly organic product. To get from the farm to the store, whole foods, even organic foods, endure some chemical exposure. Sure, it’s less than the “regular” foods, but are you really saving your health with all that extra money you are spending?
In a word, no.
Many people give up on healthy eating, claiming that it is too expensive. This attitude keeps them running through the drive-through, where a complete meal is a mere three dollars and comes complete with nearly a liter of soda.
The truth is, however, that you can find healthy foods at reasonable prices and you don’t have to buy organic or fear exposure of nasty pesticides that are speculated to lurk on “regular” produce.
Especially if you have a large family to feed, fresh fruits and vegetables can be tough to keep stocked. Aside from the cost, these foods go bad quickly, so if dinner plans change, you lose money. That’s why you should consider frozen fruits and vegetables. Frozen vegetables have a lower level of chemical exposure than fresh produce because the methods used to preserve these foods do not require additives and the process takes place very quickly after the food is harvested.
Time magazine and the Today show recently covered this seemingly lost concept. Dr. Oz was the feature of the discussion and, while he offered some money-saving nutrition tips, I would not stand by all his recommendations.
Along with the recommendation of frozen fruits and vegetables, Dr. Oz also recommended canned foods. Yes, more manufacturers are making attempts to reduce the amount of sodium canned vegetables are packed with, but eating out of can is not a habit that should be encouraged.
Last month, the American Heart Association (AHA) issued a statement recommending that all Americans, even those who are healthy and not at risk for heart disease, limit their sodium intake to no more than 1,500 milligrams daily. The average American consumes more than 3,300 milligrams of sodium daily and most of that sodium is sourced from prepackaged foods and restaurant meals.
Frozen fruits and vegetables are a step in the right direction. However, do not confuse the recommendation of frozen vegetables with TV dinners, frozen pizzas and bags of frozen pasta dishes. These foods are heavily processed, loaded with sodium, fat and calories.
If it is a choice between the drive-thru and the grocery store, choose the grocery store and shop smart. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store rather than the center aisles. This will help you avoid most of the processed foods that exposure your system to fake, gut-inducing ingredients.
Here are a few favorite tips:
- Got spoiled milk? If you find that even the half-gallon of milk spoils before you can drink it all, make the switch to almond milk. It costs a bit more, but lasts a lot longer.
- Watch out for buzz words. You hear hype about gluten-free and soy foods being healthier. Those rumors are the results of great marketing tactics. In many cases, both soy and gluten-free products are manufactured and processed. These food products are often more expensive and hold no additional health benefits. If you have celiac disease or gluten-sensitivity, you should avoid gluten and choose products that are naturally gluten-free. If you’re not suffering from the condition, a gluten-free diet will not make you healthier (or slimmer. Fifteen percent of individuals who choose a gluten-free diet gain weight.)
- Just plain rotten. If you are on a budget or your fruits and veggies are going bad before you can eat them, stock up on frozen fruits and vegetables instead. Don’t choose dried fruits or canned food items.
- Go local. Forget organic, if you really want fresh and chemical free, find a local farmers’ market and buy your produce and even your meat, fresh, really fresh.