Monday, 26 November 2012
I was speaking with two ladies at church, one in her fifties and the other in her 70s. The older one's husband has had a lot of health problems so, they're eating vegan for now. Apparently, she has been a lone vegetarian for years, for health. I knew this because at a church event, I brought hummus and she was the only one who knew what it was. My church is full of chubby southerners who brag about eating deep-fried Oreo's for breakfast and think I'm a health nut because they see me jogging around town.
I don't consider myself super-healthy, and I don't stick to organic veganism. But, compared to local habits, I am told I seem like an earth-freak hippie. My husband is very skinny which just adds to our general weirdness in their minds. The woman in her 50s was talking about how difficult it is to be healthy and how she can't afford it.
- Healthy foods are more expensive
- It's difficult and time consuming to cook
- Gym memberships cost a lot
I really don't agree with any of these statements but, they're very common misconceptions.
Healthy foods can be cheaper.
Granted, any pre-made diet foods are expensive the same way that pre-made non-diet foods are expensive. Think about the cost of a package of Poptarts compared to the price of baking your own quick bread. The Poptarts would be $7 a box while, you may spend about $2 in ingredients for the quick bread. You're paying for the time, packaging and markup of someone else preparing your food. So, eliminate all the pre-made foods from your choices.
Next, let's talk about meat. Meat is expensive. Stop eating meat completely, and your grocery bill could go down $30 easily. Limit your meat eating to once or twice a week, and the savings will still be significant. So, being vegetarian or vegan can actually save you money. Next, let's talk about frozen vegetables. I don't disagree that buying fresh from local farms every day is a little pricey. And while it would be ideal, it's not necessary if you just want to change your habits. Frozen vegetables are very cheap, about $2 for a family-sized bag. So consider a meal of roasted broccoli, seasoned and served. It's costing you cents per person. Brown rice, brown bread and wheat wraps may cost pennies more but, they fill your stomach differently. The extra fiber encourages you to eat less. So, while you may need 2 sandwiches (4 slices) on Wonder bread, you might be satisfied with ½ a sandwich (1 slice folded) on a wheat bread. Personally, I rarely eat bread but, this is what I do for my husband. Amusingly, all of his meals attract a lot of attention at the lunch table. He works at a distribution warehouse with big men. My husband will come in loaded with a fresh hoagie on something whole-grain, fresh veggies and maybe a warm, pre-made side to warm up. Since he's skinny and a guy, he usually also has a home-made baked good. His big meal will be around 600 calories. And his co-workers will eat 2-3 TV dinners, feel unsatisfied at the gooey, tastless lump and walk away with 2500 calories. That's not to mention the nutritional differences between the lunches (can you imagine the sodium?).
Cook in groups or with short-cuts.
It's true that cooking for every meal if you are preparing a roast with potatoes, rolls, and gravy can be consuming -- taking up your whole afternoon. But remember, since you're eating healthier, you're not always cooking meat. That cuts out a lot of time waiting for the food to marinate, tenderize and reach a safe temp. Become familiar with one-pot meals, pre-prepared casseroles or stir-fry done without oil in a non-stick pan. For the casseroles, especially if you don't want to give up meat, cook 2-3 on the weekend. All your prep time can be saved for a day when you're not working. Pre-cook the meat, making sure everything is safe. Then, wrap it up and freeze. Make sure to research the safest ways to freeze different foods online. During the week, maybe one or two of your meals could be soup and salad or sandwich. Maybe your lunches could be leftovers from the healthy meals. Become familiar with a non-stick pan, where you can quickly cook veggies in a variety of ways. There are so many pre-made, low-sodium and low-fat sauces and salsas. Even some low-fat dressings (vinaigrette based) can be nice with this technique.
You don't need a gym.
Sometimes it is nice to have a trainer. Personally, I've lost 14 lbs (143-129) off of a small frame (5'4") without paying money. I've done free videos on Hulu and YouTube, switching when I get bored or they get too easy. I've been jogging on trails or running bleachers at the local park. I'm so cheap that I use containers of kitty litter, bocce balls and soup cans for weights. I live in a rural area without some of the free or low-cost resources that larger cities have such as public pools or free spinning classes.
You have to remember that an overweight or obese person will benefit greatly from just walking quickly. My mom, for instance, weighed somewhere near 270lbs (5'11"ish) when she first started Weight Watchers. Her first 40 lbs were dropped simply by walking. She walked with me on my lunch break (20 min) and she walked about 30 minutes with my dad each evening.
I didn't lecture anyone on this, because the 70 year old was telling her story and it wasn't my place. However, I truly feel that these things are do-able, even for us women who have to work, raise children or please picky husbands.
What do you think? Is the cost of eating healthy too high? Or are there additional ways to make it affordable?