The Cost of Healthy Dieting

As a personal trainer I have come across many people who make countless excuses as to why they haven’t, or in their opinion, can not succeed in terms of living a healthy lifestyle. Not enough time to workout, not enough money to afford a gym pass, not enough energy to be active, the list goes on. One of the most common excuses I hear is that related to healthy dieting. When I speak of healthy dieting, be mindful, I am referring to dieting in terms of making healthy eating choices and not starving yourself or getting on a celery diet for a week. Many people say that the reason they can not eat healthier foods is simply because healthier foods is significantly more expensive than unhealthy foods. They claim that the cost of eating healthy is too much, therefore they are forced by finances to eat unhealthy. I decided I would do research on Louisiana State University’s campus in order to see why this may be.

I began my research by creating polls that asked four questions pertaining to what the participants were eating, where they were eating and what they thought about eating healthy. The results of my poll of 100 students showed that 64% of them agreed that healthy foods were significantly more expensive than unhealthy foods. On the other hand 36% disagreed and thought that healthy dieting was not significantly more expensive. This made me realize that according to my sample many people believe this statement to be true that healthy foods are just too much to afford.

Question two asked the participants what played the most important role in their grocery shopping decisions. The results of this showed price to be the biggest role for 45% of people. The taste of the food was the most important for 30% of people. The healthiness of the food was most important for 18% of people and convenience was most important for 7% of people. These results showed that although people believe healthy food is more expensive, they base what they buy on the price and the taste of the food before looking at healthiness. Question three asked the participants how often they ate fast food in a week. The results showed that 40% of people ate fast food 3-5 times per week, 7% of people ate fast food over 6 times per week, and 32% ate fast food 1-2 times per week, and 15% ate fast food less than 1 time per week. This information told me that the majority of people ate 3-5 meals from fast food places per week. The last question I asked played a huge role in my research. I asked participants how often they cooked their meals that didn’t include instant foods. The results of this question showed that an overwhelming 55% of participants only cooked 1-2 meals a week. To add to this 34% of participants only cooked 3-4 times per week, 3% cooked 5-6 times per week, and 11% cooked over 7 times per week. These results showed me that the majority of participants did very little cooking other than instant foods such as Ramen Noodles or Kraft Easy Mac.

From my data I collected I was able to determine that based on my participants, although the majority claimed that healthy food was more expensive, the healthiness of the food came third in the list of importance when grocery shopping. Also I was able to determine that the majority of the participants didn’t cook their own food and ate fast food 3-5 times per week. With the majority of people not cooking and eating fast food 3-5 times per week the cost of eating healthy would be more expensive. If you do not know how to cook trying to find healthy instant food would be a challenge in itself much less trying to find healthy instant food at a good price. On the other hand, if you know how to cook, it is much cheaper to buy grocery and prepare meals that are healthy and save money in the long run with left overs.

Many people get caught up in the gimmick that is Whole Foods and believe that the only place to get healthy foods is a place called Whole Foods. You don’t have to shop at Whole Foods in the organic aisle to be healthy, despite what many people think. Eating healthy is a matter of making good decisions over poor ones. For instance a 21 oz box of Cheerios is $3.98 and a 20.5oz box of Lucky Charms $4.18, one is a healthy choice the other is not. Another example would be Quaker’s Instant Oatmeal over Poptarts. PopTarts are $3.68 for 8 packs of 2 and oatmeal is $3.65 for 22 packets. I could literally do this all do. A McDonald’s Big Mac combo is approximately 7$ while a 4lb bag of chicken breast is the same price. A Hot N’ Ready Little Caesars Pizza is $5.45 but a rotisserie chicken from Walmart is $4.95. We have healthy choices all around is if we are willing to look for them. A bag of frozen vegetables is $1.98 while a bag of chips is $2.00. The only time unhealthy foods are more expensive is when you are eating out and because that seems to be where the majority of people are eating their meals, they blame their poor eating habits on price. You can find healthy foods almost anywhere and you don’t have to be rich to do so. In some instances healthy foods may be more but not as significant as people claim they are.

In conclusion I think that people believe that healthy foods are more expensive because they are not preparing the food themselves. With health not being a top priority when it comes to eating, people probably won’t be inclined to eating healthy. If you enter a grocery store and first look for cheap food, then look for what is good and cheap that you do not have to cook. Chances are you won’t find very healthy foods in that aisle, and you probably won’t throw away your first two criteria for the third which is healthiness. People are buying what is cheap, good, and instant. This is the source of the problem that can only be adjusted by the actions of the consumers.

Promote a Healthy Diet for Your Children at Home and at School

Children are likely to eat the same as their parents. As parents, you can be a positive role model for healthy eating. By purchasing and preparing nutritious balanced meals, you can establish a healthy diet at home.

A healthy environment at home is a good start, but the kids take most of their meals at school. By sending your kids to school with nutritious lunches and encouraging healthy choices for school events, you can also help to create a healthy nutritional environment in schools.

The offering healthy foods at school improves student learning. Research shows that children who have a healthy diet are:

• more willing to learn; 
• more likely to achieve better results at school; 
• less likely to have chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer.

The government is working with schools, educators and parents to encourage healthy eating at school. In April 2008, the Act on Healthy Food for Healthy Schools was passed to make schools healthier learning environments. By working together and making all our part, we can help our children to make healthier choices.

Create a healthier school environment

The idea supporting the Act on Healthy Food for Healthy Schools is to help children make healthier food choices. This means that healthy and tasty foods should be made available to children in schools.

In September 2011, the Ontario schools will implement the policy on food and beverages in schools. It provides guidance on the types of foods that can be sold in school cafeterias, vending machines and at school events. Policy helps schools determine which foods they can or can not sell.

Your children need YOU

Wherever possible, try to participate in the school life of your child, making sure that the foods offered in the school are healthy. Make your voice heard. Here are some ideas:

• Talk to your child and tell him why healthy foods are important in school and why some food he could buy during the previous school year are no longer available. 
• Prepare lunches and healthy snacks to school with your child. 
• Join a parent / teacher committee to help make good decisions on proposed school food. 
• Opt for healthy recipes at bake sales and fundraisers with the proposed ideas Bake it Up!(English only).

What can you do to encourage healthy eating?

The Policy on food and beverages in schools covers only food sold at school. It does not apply to meals from home. Does this mean that you should not put anything in any lunch box for your child? No, especially if you encourage healthy eating! It is important to be consistent and to provide healthy meals for your children at home and at school. This will allow them to learn to make healthy choices for food.

At the grocery store:

Choose products from the four food groups of Canada’s Food Guide.

Go shopping with your children to teach them to make good choices. They can learn the value of food, provenance and revenue opportunities.

Teach your children to read food labels. Watch these videos on nutrition labeling with your children.

During the preparation of lunch:

Involve your children in the selection and preparation of food. When children are involved in meal preparation, they are more likely to consume.

Get creative! Use cookie cutters to make sandwiches fun shapes, make fruit kebabs and pastries offer whole grain low fat. Read the FAQ Prepare lunches and healthy snacks for students for more ideas.

During the meal:

Eat together as often as possible. Children who eat with their parents (at least four times per week) tend to eat more fruits and vegetables, have a higher fiber intake, eat less fried foods and drink less soda.

They are also less prone to being overweight or obese.

Be a good role model. When you make healthy food choices for yourself, you teach your children to eat healthily.

In conclusion:

Promote healthy eating by helping to feed your children at school and at home. Bring the kids to the grocery store, prepare healthy meals and encourage healthy activities in school. As a model for your children, you must teach them healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime.

The Importance of Living a Healthy Lifestyle As a Family

The importance of living a healthy lifestyle for maintaining general good health and preventing chronic diseases has been well established. A healthy lifestyle is quite simple to achieve – one does not need to do anything “crazy” to adopt a healthy lifestyle. I will say that a certain amount of independent thinking is required to separate truth from fiction in most modern health advice currently being delivered.

The most important thing you can do is eat well. Avoid toxins in your food as much as possible and consume plenty of fresh fruit, veggies and whole grains; exercise moderately a few times per week; avoid smoking, including secondhand smoke; and avoid gaining too much weight (which should come naturally if you eat right and exercise). While it is not always possible to eat all Organic food – the EWG recommends 12 fruits and vegetables that should be organic because of their higher levels of pesticide residue. Avoiding environmental toxins as much as you can is an important part of achieving a healthy lifestyle.

Our modern lifestyle is very convenient – but it can also be extremely unhealthy. Most of us eat too many processed foods and too few fruit and veggies; we rarely exercise; and when we develop chronic conditions such as diabetes, we rely on conventional medications to make us feel better – but these medications often have devastating side effects. Instead of accepting the importance of living a healthy lifestyle for us and for future generations, we continue with our bad habits – then take potent, toxic medication to treat our inevitable symptoms.

Of course, not all aspects of living a healthy lifestyle are in our control. We are going to be exposed to certain environmental toxins whether we like it or not. But many of these factors are absolutely in our control. Whenever we can, we should be responsible and make the right choices.

This is why it is so important to be sure you eat well as the key factor in achieving a healthy LIFESTYLE.

I say “lifestyle” because what I know is that “eating well” can sometimes be something a person does with resentment because they feel “sacrifice” is required to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

I remember when people who ate poor foods used to joke with me and say I was not really living because I chose not to eat pizza and drink beer – and I always replied “how much LIVING can you do when your body is recovering from what you put in it?

Shifting from an Unhealthy to a Healthy Lifestyle

The reason I discuss the healthy lifestyle tip of simply EATING WELL on my blog is because it has been so effective for my health.

It was not always like this though. I remember when I was addicted to a chocolate bar each day and I always had headaches or an infection or illness of some kind.

In addition to excessive sugar cravings (eating a chocolate bar each day) I also suffered from many unhealthy symptoms that were challenging to resolve through traditional medicine: Frequent headaches, Skin problems (ie. eczema, acne, hives, Bloating, Gas, Bad Breath, Weak or brittle hair and nails, Fatigue and lethargy, Excessive stress, Candida overgrowth, Yeast infections, Food or Environmental Allergies, Anxiety or depression, Diarrhea, Constipation, Memory loss, Mood swings, Frequent colds or infections, PMS or bad menstrual cramps, Bladder infection, Loss of sex drive…etc

Ughhh! No fun at all!

Years later, I LOVE good food and I am rarely sick. Eating well is the perfect way to get in tune with your body and really get back to basics of what your body needs. It challenges you to give up the vices that you take for granted, break your addictive eating habits and start again from the beginning. Eating well is a healthy lifestyle choice that gives you clarity on what your body really needs, not craves and becomes the foundation for all other healthy lifestyle choices.

An important thing to remember with eating well is to really examine your root philosophy for adapting more healthy foods into your lifestyle.

This is SO IMPORTANT!

If it’s simply to loose a few pounds – I personally feel that this is not enough of a motivator and you will set yourself up for “failure” however, if you choose to eat well to enjoy a better quality of life, to do things you have not done in years and to not get sick anymore, then this is a wonderful motivator that will likely last!

So, getting really practical, eating well obviously involves making a few changes to the foods you prepare and enjoy.

I always listen to my body when I eat. I do not calorie count, measure my fist, use ratio’s or anything that causes me to separate myself form the food I eat.

The main reason I enjoy excellent health is because I am critical of what I eat – I choose to eat REAL food.

Because of this, I do not need expensive supplements or challenging programs to maintain my weight.

Delicious menus of real, whole foods allow me to enjoy the things so many diet plans warn against.

This sounds simple enough, but what I have learned is that many people simply do not know what a healthy lifestyle consists of, especially when it comes to food!

I try to keep things as simple as possible. I shop from the perimeter of the grocery store, eat mostly wild and free range chicken, very little meat and mostly raw organic fruits and vegetables, with beans and rice. It’s not practical to list everything I eat here, but feel free to visit my blog and download your FREE Healthy Grocery List while you are here!

The Future Depends on our Health Living a healthy lifestyle, free as much as possible of toxins (in our environment and in our food) and of stress, is important to us – but it’s also important for future generations. Scientists are also now discovering the impact nutrition has on our DNA! Healthy trees bear healthy fruit. A continued lifestyle of sickness will have a lasting effect on future generations and on our planet.

The results of years of living an unhealthy lifestyle are obvious. We are currently faced with a sharp increase in chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease, with an obesity rate so high it’s considered an epidemic, and with growing rates of infertility. The number of children diagnosed with autism, Asperger’s syndrome or ADHD is alarmingly high.

We should also remember that our children carefully watch us and emulate us. If they see us act responsibly now, they will likely adopt a similar approach of taking care of themselves and of the planet when they become adults.

We must each ask ourselves if we are modeling the importance of a healthy lifestyle to our children. If we do not show them how to care for themselves, they will likely turn to the food corporations instead. How will they know the difference between real food, “food like” substances?

I keep about 6 – 8 fantastic cookbooks on hand. From these books, I create simple meal plans that I rotate each month based on about 15 simple meal ideas.

In addition to eating Delicious Food (that is real and healthy!) I suggest the following ways to help model a positive approach to food in our children:

  • Young children especially learn about the world through imitation. How do you feel each day as you prepare your family’s meals? Are you hurried, frustrated, and disconnected? We can show our children that eating healthy is important by the way we approach our meal times. If we are happy and engaged in making a meal, and then take pleasure in eating together we affirm that food is more than something to fill the hole but is a necessary part of a happy and healthy family life. In short, your children will imitate what they see so make sure you are placing a positive value around the activities involving healthy living.
  • Involve your children in meal preparation, even once or twice a week. By discussing how good certain foods taste and by letting them help you cook you will show that it’s important to take the time to prepare a healthy meal instead of throwing something in the microwave. You never know, you may inspire a future chef!
  • Make a plan to eat together as a family as often as possible. By each decision you make to eat together, you are casting a value judgment on the importance of healthy living and that it involves more than just eating a few more vegetables.

We can and should make an effort to change our habits and accept the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. If society won’t make changes, then we as individuals need to make them. After all, if we leave our health to someone else guess what they have planned for you? Not much.

I have absolute confidence that you can make the switch to living a healthy lifestyle and eliminating the nuisance symptoms that result from a body that is overloaded with toxins from our North American lifestyle. I was able to do this by following simple strategies, cooking from informative books that helped me switch my lifestyle over and enjoying life!