Blah, blah, blah, blah. This is just one of the many cliché excuses I hear all the time from folks who claim wanting to eat better but they just can’t get past the…fill in the blank. Don’t get me wrong, I have been there many, many times myself. But the point is that, at some point (pardon the redundancy) I had to reflect: “Am I just repeating the same thing EVERYONE says ALL the time”?. “What about protein”? “But my spouse eats different things”, what about calcium”? “I just can’t afford to eat healthy”, “I just can’t live without meat”, “eating healthy means eating bland foods”, and the list goes on and on and on. Again, it is very likely that, at various stages throughout my life I have used each one of these excuses. In fact, some of these excuses I used as recently as last year. One by one, however, I have proved them all to be wrong… or let’s just say “misguiding”. Which leads me to make the following, humble assumption; Most of us have been conditioned to believe these things without ANY real-life, personal experience. For most of us, we are just repeating what has been drilled into our brain-housing group since childhood. Personally, I have to fight my natural inclinations to follow the crowd and formulate opinions based on first-person experiences. But I digress. For this post, let me tackle the specific issue at hand; “eating healthy is too expensive” or something along those lines, right?
Here’s what I PERSONALLY have to say about that:
1) Have you ever tried grocery shopping for “healthy alternatives”? I mean, have you really tried? I am not talking about the usual trip to the produce section where you reluctantly pick up some fruits and vegetables to go alongside your 4-pound plate of rice, beans and meat. I am talking about completely changing your eating habits. Getting out of your comfort-zone and preparing dishes that are different, delicious and healthy at the same time. I am talking about using your web-browsing skills for something other than social networking and, instead, researching the thousands of recipes available in the World Wide Web. Then put together a grocery list comprised of the ingredients you need to treat you and your family to 2-week feast of international cuisine while eliminating the usual sodas, cereal, fatty meats, breads, candy, snacks, processed cheeses and ham and meats and milk, cookies, canned foods, AND ALL OF THE OTHER PROCESSED CRAP WE FEED OUR CHILDREN THAT MAKE YOU SLUGISH TODAY AND CLAIM YOUR LIFE TOMORROW!! THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT! And for those of you couponers, did you know that there are discount coupons and great deals on healthy foods too? whowouldofthunkit? Well, if you haven’t tried any of these things, then please don’t tell me that eating healthy is expensive. It just isn’t. Eating healthy is many things but “expensive” is hardly one of them. Is it time-consuming? Yes. Is it “inconvenient”? Yes, at times, especially when eating out and when visiting your local, caca-filled supermarket. But allow me to tell you what it really is. It is FUN, It is DIFFERENT. It is LIBERATING; It forces you to get out of your Walmarts and WinDixies and visit the small, family-owned produce store and shop a much larger variety of, often, fresher foods. It is a great bonding tool for the family as we all share meals we all helped prepare from scratch. It is a great conversational piece at the dinner table for family and guest. It is REWARDING as you know you are helping your family live fuller lives. And it makes you feel great, literally! Skin, hair, energy levels, brain, everything feels better. Go ahead! I challenge you to give it a try and compare receipts.
2) Another reason for why eating healthy doesn’t have to translate into emptier pockets is that of portions. Yes, you heard me right. It is a fact that when one adapts a healthy lifestyle that involves preparing healthy meals from whole foods one consumes smaller portions. This, by the way, isn’t necessarily a voluntary action where one has to unwillingly stop eating while still hungry. Not at all. I am talking about the fact that junk and processed foods are full of what’s known as “empty calories”. Now, since I am not a fan of over-complicating the science of eating, I will keep this as brief as I can: You need to eat MORE of “empty calories” food to feel fuller than you would if the same plate contained “nutrient-dense” foods. As a result, not only do you eat MORE, you end up eating excess calories that, oftentimes, go unused and thus stored as fat. In the article Empty Calorie Foods vs Nutrient Dense Foods, Mrs. Sukhsatej Barra writes: “While all foods contain nutrients, nutrient-dense foods are more beneficial for maintaining optimal health, as they provide more nutrients than calories. Unlike nutrient-dense foods, empty-calorie foods or energy-dense foods are nutritionally poor food choices, as they contain more calories than nutrients. A high intake of empty-calorie foods may cause weight gain, especially if your intake of calories exceeds their utilization. In contrast, consumption of nutrient-dense foods helps to maintain a healthy weight in addition to supplying nutrients that protect against disease.” And I couldn’t have said it any better so, enough of that.
So basically, even if you do spend a little more money on groceries, the fact that you are getting satisfied with less and the fact that preparing your own meals should keep you from eating out as much (which besides grotesque it is expensive), should all equal to you spending about the same amount of money. As simple as that.
Earlier today I found myself in a very familiar situation; out on the road and hungry. Been there? Of course you have. Who hasn’t? My Mother-in-Law and I looked around and saw an all-too-typical American landscape. McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, Pollo Tropical, KFC/Pizza Hut, etc. Isn’t depressing that you don’t even know where I was but yet, it sounds like it was right around the corner from you, right? I mean, I just described at least 85% of all major cities in this country. To our surprise though, Wholefoods Market was open… ON EASTER SUNDAY!!!!! Say what you want about that but I found it as akin to a miracle as anything else. Well, maybe I’m exaggerating a little but, you get the point. Once inside, we made our way to the Deli area where I felt like a kid at Toys R Us. It was mesmerizing! I helped myself to some eggplant/vegetable soup. Although I did not get the exact recipe, it was nice and hearty. I accompanied my soup with a freshly squeezed juice made of apples, kale, spinach and lemons. Not only were they both delicious, it was healthy (of course), surprisingly filling (I felt stuffed), and relatively affordable. “How affordable” you ask? Cup of soup was $2.99 and the Juice was $4.99. Could I have eaten at a fast-food place for less than $7.98? Of course. But I doubt that a Whopper, fries and soda that $5.98 gets me would have helped me one hour later complete the 3-mile run, 20 pull-ups and 200 sit-ups, marine-style workout I treated myself to. I also doubt I would have had the energy to write this way-too-long of a post. So, no thank you. I’ve done the $1 menus wherever they exist and no mas. I don’t need to save money if it means clogging an artery or eating my way into diabetes. So I ask you: Which is really more expensive?