Eating Healthy on a budget
It’s imperative that you get your calories from nutrient dense foods - not for fat loss, but for something more important that fat loss, HEALTH.
The Wellness industry is a large and growing industry and becoming healthy is not only necessity but has also become a bit of a trend. With the expansion of this ‘trendiness’ comes the seeming increase of price around living a healthy life.
I’m here to passionately tell you from my budget, hand made soap box that you do NOT need to spend your salary on superfoods from the amazonian forest in order to achieve optimal health.
I am on my soap box because it upsets me that we are encouraged to look further than our own country side for healthy foods.
Why should we eat local?
It’s cheaper - I’m going to go into detail about this a little more for you on choosing cheap, but nutrient dense foods so read on.
It’s better for the environment - Transporting food is one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the World Watch Institute. Each year, 817 million tons of food are shipped around the planet. The result is that a basic diet of imported products can use four times the energy and produce four times the emissions of an equivalent domestic diet! 1
It’s better for local farmers - we vote with our money and in an effort to support the people in our community it’s important that we choose to buy their hard work. Especially those that have chosen to honour the environment with organic farming.
It’s better for the international communities - this potentially seems like a contradiction - how could we be helping international communities if we aren’t buying their commodities? Quinoa is a classic example of this. Produced mostly in Bolivia (one of the poorest countries in Latin-America where the majority of people heavily rely on substance farming, the demand from wealthier western culture on this delicious little grain has of course increased the revenue for some farmers however made it harder for others in the community to purchase. "The appetite of countries such as ours for this grain has pushed up prices to such an extent that poorer people in Peru and Bolivia, for whom it was once a nourishing staple food, can no longer afford to eat it.” 2
Because it has become a lucrative commodity for many Bolivian farmers it is also encouraging the process of mono-cropping which puts severe stress on the land (and their goes our lovely environment again).
Anyway - I’m not here to bash quinoa consumers or make you focus on the negative impacts of ‘trendy eating’.
Instead, I actually just want to take the pressure off anyone that feels like they are less healthy because they aren’t purchasing these ‘superfoods’ or just feels the pressure of trying to eat healthy on a budget.
It’s really not an expensive choice, and it will do both your body and your wallet a world of good in the future when you’re not paying medical bills to fix a problem that could have been prevented with healthier nutritional and lifestyle choices.
So here are my favourite ways to save money while being really, really, ridiculously healthy;
1. Shop at the markets - yes preferably organic, only because it’s better for you and the environment. It is still relatively cheap if purchased from a market rather than Wholefoods. You also get to meet the farmer sometimes and have a chat with him about the produce.
2. Buy seasonal veggies - it’s better for the environment and helps our local farmers, but is also cheaper and healthier for you. Here is a great website that tells you when things are in season in the UK.
3. Make a huge portion of your diet green - Not only with this be cheaper, but it will also nourish you. I have spoken on the benefits of eating green in my article here, it can help you to detoxify more efficiently, lose fat and glow more. If the majority of your vitamins and nutrients come from greens you’re less likely to both eat rubbish, empty calories found in processed foods AND you won't spend truck loads of money on Açai and Goji and Maca etc ...
4. Oats - One cup of dry steel cut oats packs over 50g of carbs, 10g protein and 6g of fat. It’s a great source of medium-GI carbohydrate and dietary fibre. Research has also demonstrated that Oats can reduce levels of LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol. Oats are also great crops for the environment as they require far far far less fertiliser than other crops and they have amazing coverage over the land during winter months (to reduce erosion) - and ... they are NOT expensive!
5. Eggs - The cholesterol myth about eggs has been well and truly debunked by clinical and epidemiological research - while eggs are high in cholesterol they do not cause a significant spike on human cholesterol levels (read more here)
The only major thing I will point out here is that I urge you to purchase your eggs from a market and if you can have a chat to the farmer about the quality of living conditions for the chickens. Cage eggs and sometimes even labelled ‘free range’ eggs are just not good enough. I will say it again, we vote with our money and if we support the protection of animal rights we then encourage more and more farmers to ethically produce foods and even shops to stock more ethically produced foods.
6. Meet your meat - I will assert that this is the one ingredient however that you should NOT be scrimping on. If you are going to eat meat, you need to heavily inspect the quality of life the animal had before it died, what it was fed and how it was killed in order to ensure it’s health and consequently the health of your own body that will be absorbing the nutrients (and potentially hormones if it’s not a good source). The bottom line is that everyone needs to STOP BUYING CHEAP, POORLY TREATED, GRAIN & HORMONE FED, ABUSED ANIMALS. Purchase your meat from local farmers and pay that extra price to know that it was not just grass fed, but grass finished (meaning it was fed grass it’s entire life), that it was free to roam and that it was killed in the most humane way possible (although there has never been as greater oxymoron than the term humane killing).
7. Don’t be afraid of fruit - while it’s important to purchase it organically (as many fruits absorb the pesticides very easily, particularly thin skinned fruits such as berries), fruit is extremely nutrient dense. High in vitamins, minerals and fibre (to keep you regular) fruit can be relatively cheap and is great in smoothies to add extra nutrient value and tastiness. Although fructose gives fruit a bad name, problems with fructose are actually on seen amongst those that eat large amounts of refined sugars like High Fructose Corn syrup (found in soft drinks) or sucrose. If you want to talk ‘superfoods’, blueberries are one of the highest in antioxidants and are actually low in sugar - So don’t be afraid to put those little blue balls in your mouth…
8. Use everything - One thing that used to always get me about buying at the markets was that I would get so damn excited about all the beautiful food, buying the entire stall only to get to the end of the week with lots of old looking veggies at the bottom of my fridge because I just couldn't get through them all. This article has some great suggestions for those forgotten, slightly brown ingredients that always hide in the bottom of the veggie box.
9. Go vegan/vegetarian - It's not necessarily the healthiest, but it is a lot cheaper, better for the environment and more loving towards animals (who are really just people too). I was nervous about putting this point in here and I'm sure I'll have a few of my old PT & Nutrition pals email me about how irresponsible I am being to promote a diet lacking in many vital nutrients, but I just don't think that it is 'lacking', and even science is catching up to the plausibility of this way of life. Surely we have enough technological advancements in society to avoid killing thousands of lives every second for the sake of a steak. Anyway, I'm not preaching or ranting, just some food for thought - see what I did there? #food #thought #articleaboutfoodandyourethinkingaboutit #bitclever
I hope this helps. While expensive superfoods are sexy, looking and feeling sexy is not reliant upon their consumption. I’d love to hear your suggestions on how you live healthy on a budget.