Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Budgeting Nutrition

   I hear it a lot, "I can't afford to be healthy". I understand healthy foods can be expensive, gym memberships may not come cheap, and if you go vegetarian or organic you're looking at a whole different kind of expense. But do you know how much it costs a year for type II diabetes medication (Type II diabetes is often caused by obesity); you're paying for hospital care, a slew of medications you will be on daily, and then you have to pay for any of the nasty complications such as nerve damage and loss of vision to just name two! I did a little research, and you're looking at around $14,000 a year... that is more than a $1,000 a month! So, a decent gym membership might cost you around $30/ month, and the grocery bill might be around $500-$600 a month, depending on how many people you feed and what you eat... so that's only around let's say $700 a month. That's $300 you didn't have to spend on insulin medication and doctor appointments. And let's face facts, no matter what groceries you are buying, you're still buying them so it's not like that $600 a month would be money in your pocket. Put down the Ramen Noodles and hot dogs. What you put into your body matters! Still don't want to pay for a gym membership, read my Warm Weather Workouts blog; you don't need one! Move the couch or go to the playground, invest in a pair of dumb bells but get up and move! Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to hit the gym decked out in under armour... most of the time I'm there in shorts and an old tshirt. Even better, hit Marshalls; exercise equipment and clothes and shoes for cheap!
   Back to the food problem... I know produce is expensive, and it goes bad quickly so lesson #1: Don't overbuy! Set up a weekly meal plan, and only buy what you're planning to eat. If frozen veggies are on sale, stock up. Frozen has less sodium than canned, and is therefore healthier, but fresh is ideal. If you run out, there is nothing that says you can't go back to the store for just a few things. Keep the fridge and pantry organized so you know exactly what you have, and keep things that go bad quickly towards the front.
   Get Creative! Some foods, especially fruits, can still be used even after they are overly ripened. Bananas for instance are actually higher in cancer fighting agents when brown and freckled but if you're like me, you can't stand the mealy texture and strong banana taste. Throw them in a protein shake, or bake something that uses mashed bananas as the sugar. On my facebook page, ltip fitness, I have a recipe for apple oat muffins that uses bananas and they're delicious! Get on pinterest, tons of ideas! You can also use greens that are a day past what you want to eat in shakes. Try something new, if you don't like it, you were going to throw it out anyways. Consider starting a compost?
   Know what to buy in bulk! Safeway is having a sale! Awesome, but don't buy 12 boxes of cereal. Stock up on things that freeze well, and what you have room to freeze. Bread products and meats freeze well. When I buy meat in bulk I pre-portion it in baggies, because who wants to take a chainsaw to 10 pounds of frozen chicken breasts when they only need 2 pounds? It's not good food safety either to thaw and refreeze foods over and over again either. Yes, I realize this is time consuming but it's worth it! If you're going to eat a lot of brown rice and things of the sort, be sure to keep only one container open at a time and keep it cool and dry. Other than that, you should plan to buy things on a more weekly basis.
   Couponing! Sign up for the grocery store reward program too; it's free and it does pay off. Start checking out coupons too, but don't clip coupons for things you don't use unless you are interested in trying something new. Keep an eye on which stores are having which sales too. Not interested in couponing? Check out a local farmers market for your fresh foods. You can usually talk to the stand and get half of something for half of the price and you don't pay taxes, and it's usually cheaper, fresher, and more local than the grocery store. As a girl who works for a farm, at the farmer markets I have some advice; be nice! We have every right to say "Nope." but usually if a person asks nicely, we will happily oblige. Plus, being rude gets you nowhere and it's not good for your mental health!
   So while you're still sitting here, arguing that you can buy the entire taco bell menu for under $10, save it for your doctor when you develop diabetes or metabolic disease. And sorry to burst your little gas bubble, but that kind of food will only keep you full for around an hour or so and then you need more... more food, more money. Healthy food that is nutrient dense will keep you full for longer. Being healthy is more fulfilling and cheaper in the long run. I lived on my own, I know groceries can be expensive but it's a necessary expense in your budget. Go to the grocery store, and avoid the filler aisles as much as you can and you can lose... weight that is! Do it for yourself and for your family.

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