Thursday, February 17, 2011

Eating Healthy is NOT more Expensive

I cringe when people say, “Eating healthy is Expensive” and they walk around with a sports drink/soda in one hand and a bag of chips in another. It’s no wonder why we have an obesity epidemic on our hands. The thing that causes me great concern is when I saw infants in the WIC (Federal government program for Women, Infants & Children) clinic. We first would see babies at birth, then at 6 months and finally at 1 year. I was seeing babies at 6 months that had already reached their 1 year weight! When I would ask parents about what doctor said, the majority said, “that he/she’s OK. That is not OK, but you see, doctors typically are required to take 1 nutrition course in college, whereas, nutritionists take many nutrition courses, including biology, chemistry and physiology courses together with med students. Who you going to listen to? Patients get 2 different messages, that is not right.

Let’s get back to my main point. Just recently I saw a guy saying buying an apple was more expensive than buying apple cereal. First of all, that doesn’t make any sense comparing 2 totally different foods, one high in nutrients and the other low in nutrients. See how you feel after snacking on an apple one day vs. snacking on the apple cereal on another. The apple will satisfy me for a longer period while the apple cereal would give me a headache as I’m coming off the sugar rush. So which one is more expensive for you?

I’m not talking about buying organic either. Did you know that organic is not any healthier? This comes directly out of the mouth of Dr. Stephenson, my Nutrition & Food Science college professor at UK. She even tried tricking us on an exam. She said studies have not proven organic is any healthier. Funny thing, she buys organic. What I conclude from this is, if you can afford to buy organic food, buy it. For the rest of us that are suffering the consequences of the economic times or being unemployed or underemployed, non-organic will do just fine.

For starters you can drink tap water, it’s free. I know you don’t like the taste, it’s acquired. I moved to FL from KY almost 8 months ago and yes I prefer KY water. Get yourself a clear pitcher and slice up some oranges or lemons or both and add ice and tap water, it works for me. Another option is a product I discovered called True Lemon; it is just crystallized lemon and comes in little packets with no sugar added. Now they have True Orange and True Lime, they are great to carry in your purse or pocket and take when you go to restaurants. They also have True Lemon shaker and True Lime shaker to use in cooking. Do you know if you give up one soda a day, at the end of one year you will have lost 15 pounds! If you give up 2 sodas that’s 30 pounds you’d lose! You don’t need the sports drink either, the majority of us are not doing 8-12 hours of strenuous physical activity. Ha, it’s hard enough for us to get the recommended 30-60 minutes a day. If your pee is not clear by later in the day, you have not had enough water!

For grains choose more whole grains, like 100% whole wheat bread, oats, whole wheat pasta, corn tortillas, whole grain cereal, brown rice and cornmeal. Check out my YouTube video on grains for more ideas and a recipe made with instant brown rice. We pay .79 cents for 100% Whole Wheat at the Hostess bakery versus getting the same thing in the grocery store for $3.00. I’ve been doing this for years, with different bakeries, check your city, they are out there. For snack eat popcorn, another whole grain, I like the 100 calorie packs. Another tip is to buy everything generic when possible.

When shopping for fruits and vegetables buy in-season items. Check out your farmers market and flea market. I would have never thought a flea market would have fruits and vegetables, until I moved to FL. We just went again this past weekend and bought strawberries, mango, plantains, tomatoes, peppers, lemons, plums, oranges, tangerines, garlic, bananas, and red potatoes. Check out my Fruit & Vegetable video. Also watch the video on how to cook plantains and how to cut a mango.

I grew up drinking whole milk, but when I went away to college, my roommate whose dad was a doctor and mom a nurse started me on 2%. When I got married I purchased 1% and today I only care for fat free. Sometimes my husband buys 1% and I have to add a little water or ice! You can get use to lower fat milk. Remember small changes are better than nothing. The only people that really need to be drinking whole milk are 1-2 year olds and people who have been told by a doctor or nutritionist they need to because they are underweight or have a medical reason for doing so. The rest of us should be consuming 1% or fat free. If you now drink whole change to 2%, even if you have to mix whole and 2% until you can wean yourself from whole. Then tackle 1%, ultimately you want to at least be drinking 1% or fat free.

You would think that I would recommend eating low-fat cheese, but don’t worry, I say eat the real thing but in small portions. I love extra sharp cheddar cheese but I do portion control. I usually get a 16 oz. block for better savings and cut it in 1 oz. portions however that can sometimes back fire if you end up eating more. I’m not going to say that doesn’t happen to me, ha, ha.

As for yogurt, watch out for any yogurt that has cartoons on it, geared toward kids. They are loaded with sugar, check the label for yourself. The companies are so sneaky that they sell them in tiny serving sizes, this way the sugar content seems lower. I buy low-fat generic yogurt in the 32 oz. size. I like to buy the plain or vanilla and divide it into small containers and add frozen blueberries or dried cranberries, that way they are ready for when I want to eat. At the time I’m going to eat it, I add walnuts or wheat nugget cereal, yummy. Stay tune, as I have a video in production on dairy products.

We have already covered water, produce, grains, and dairy, so that leaves us protein sources. Learn to love beans, they are not your enemy and they are versatile too. I make a pot of beans with calabaza (squash) and serve them over rice, they are to die for. You can add them to soups, chili, salads, rice, pasta salads and even make brownies with them. What, I’m not joking I saw Chef Rucco on The Dr. Oz show sharing his brownie recipe made with black beans. When I had a separate freezer I used to buy dried, and cook them and put them in 2 cup containers. Now that I don’t have my freezer I buy the can beans. They are a cheap source of protein. Give them a chance, try to go meatless twice a week and you’ll save.

When we lived in KY, we would buy rotisserie chickens at half off! We’d go a little later in the evening when they’d probably be at the 2 hours standing time and they would mark them down to ½ off. I use to kid my husband that he had a hook up with the deli guy. Sometimes he would come home with 3 or 4 chickens. We would cut them up and freeze them. It was not even worth buying unprepared chickens. So get friendly with the deli guy, you might get a hook up, ha, ha. As for pork and beef, try to buy roasts (get then on sale) and cook them in a slow cooker.

Salmon and tuna are good protein sources, and the can variety is good to have on stock. And don’t forget about the eggs, they are not as bad as previously thought. In a recent study it was revealed that an egg a day is OK, even if you have high cholesterol. The researchers of the same study will test if 2 eggs a day is OK for people with high cholesterol. The researchers speculate that 2 eggs are going to be fine. Yet another good source of protein are nuts and seeds. They have good fat in them and a handful a day is all that’s needed.

Another thing I’m going to tell you is our bodies need fat in order to carry out bodily functions. You only need small amounts, so sorry if you like to fry. I grew up in a household where fried foods were common, once I got married, no fried stuff for me. I don’t even know how to fry, and that makes me happy. What the body needs is good fat, in the form of olive oil or canola oil, avocados, seeds and nuts.

So there you have it, these are some ideas on how to eat healthy while not going broke. It really doesn’t entail you spending long hours in the kitchen. Plus, you get the added benefit that you cooked homemade. You can do it!

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  1. Hello Norma. This is a great post and just in the nick of time. I am trying to do something about the present sorry state of my once healthy body. Perhaps you can save me...or better yet, you can help me save myself :)

    1. How are u doing Bob with your healthy eating?

  2. Welllll Norma. You see, it's like this. I can assure you that I am eating very healthy but my bathroom scale indicates that I may be eating just a bit too healthy :)