Is it More Expensive to Eat Healthy?

Is it More Expensive to Eat Healthy?

Photo by Esther Wechsler on Unsplash

COVD-19 has changed our culture quite a bit and it has made us look at how we shop and how we eat. This week, I’d like to challenge the popular paradigm that it’s more expensive to eat healthy.

Our attitude towards food is often the main cause of weight struggles; so if you can change your mindset, that’s a huge step towards changing your body, your health and your lifestyle. So I’m writing this blog with your financial, mental and physical health in mind. I want you to question this idea because, personally, I think its a false rationalization. However, if you keep reading, you might figure out how to save a ton of money and lose weight in a healthy way.

In 1997, I left my family in Los Angeles to attend school in New York and live on my own. I paid my own tuition and rent. I worked retail while going to school and depended on no one.

Living and studying in New York is one of the most expensive things you can do. I was spending $15 a week on food. I spent this money on pasta, vegetables, fruit, cheese and hummus.

From tomatoes, garlic, cheese and dried basil, I made my own spaghetti sauce on a hot plate. Pasta cost 99 cents a box. The tomatoes and garlic cost less than a dollar. I also had a $1.50 bottle of ketchup that lasted forever.

I had oatmeal for breakfast and made sandwiches and salads. I drank only water from the tap, using a Britta filter (water from NY tastes much better than L.A. water). I ate apples which cost me maybe 30 cents each at the time.

I ate healthy. So when people say eating healthy is expensive, I wonder what they mean by that.

The funny thing about budgeting is that its a lot like fitness. Budgeting takes awareness. If we aren’t mindful about how we spend and how we eat, we over indulge and often regret it.

For me, eating out less has saved me a lot of  money. 
For example, an order of French fries can cost $1 to $4. One potato costs 55 cents on average.

Snacking on a health bar costs $1 to $4 compared to 15 cents if you eat a carrot or a stalk of celery.

A dozen eggs costs $1 to $4 depending on which state you are buying it from. That’s good for 6 breakfasts.

I pay about $3.00 for a 42 ounce box of generic oatmeal that feeds my family for a month. That’s less than one serving of Starbucks oats.

A box of sugary cereal costs $3 to $6. It lasts about a week because it consists mostly of air and sugar, so how is eating healthy more expensive?

It takes one minute to cook oats. It would take at least 15 minutes for me to drive by Starbucks and have them make the oatmeal for me. Take into account travel time, waiting in line, etc. The Starbucks oatmeal costs $3.45 a cup. If I fed myself, my son and my husband Starbucks oatmeal for a month, it would cost more than $300, and I couldn’t choose how much sugar and additives goes in my oatmeal. Add the cost of gas to that and you suddenly realize how much more we spend when we choose to eat less healthy.

Speaking of Starbucks, a box of green tea costs less than $10 for 25 bags. It contains nearly no calories, but it does contain tons of antioxidents and compounds similar to caffeine that gives you energy but doesn’t have you crashing later on in the day. It’s also known to increase your ability to burn fat and lose weight.

Compare that with a Starbucks frappachino which costs $5.45 for one serving and contains 200 calories. Seeing how a box of green tea contains 25 servings; if I were to have one glass of Frappuccino a day for 25 days, I would be paying $136 in Starbucks coffee plus gaining an additional 5000 calories which adds up to almost 2 lbs of fat. In 5 months, that turns into an almost 10 lb. gain of body fat.

So if you cut out Starbucks and replaced it with green tea, in 5 months you could lose almost 10 lbs and save over $630.

Then there are the long term costs of not taking care of your health. Medical appointments and drugs needed to combat diseases such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol costs hundreds of billions a year in the U.S. Such long term diseases can be prevented with healthy eating and regular exercise.

Most people who have told me that eating healthy is too expensive were people who struggled with their weight. This makes me feel bad because I know its just not true. To lose weight, you have to eat less and if you are eating less food, you are buying less food, therefore, losing weight should save you money.

So what is really going on when people say to me that healthy food costs more? Perhaps they mean that healthy food in restaurants cost more, yet whenever I go to a restaurant and look at the low calorie section of their menu, the dish is usually cheaper because it contains less food, thus less calories. Perhaps they mean it is more expensive to buy from health stores such as Whole Foods, but mainstream stores also stock organic and healthy foods so one no longer has to shop at more expensive venues for these items.

If you are ingesting processed carbs, alcohol, deserts and fast food, you’re poisoning yourself with more additives, preservatives and empty calories than you would by eating produce that isn’t organic; plus, an organic potato still costs less than a serving of French fries.

The truth is, we often rationolize the fact that we don’t want to change our habits. Habit change is very difficult which is why its so hard to change our body unless we are forced to due to a medical condition or a change in the environment.

Our subconscious mind knows that its just easier not to change, so we come up with excuses in order to avoid doing what we have to do. It’s just another form of procrastination. We tell ourselves that we’re too lazy or that its too hard or that our genetic disposition or personality just isn’t right to do what we have to do. We blame our financial situation, our friends, our family, our spouses, our jobs, anything to keep us from facing the music.

I’m not saying that losing weight and being healthy isn’t hard. I’m just saying its not expensive. When you make the excuse that its expensive, what you’re really saying is, “losing weight is hard.” You’re trying to come up with a reason, but you don’t need one. You just have to admit that its hard and come up with new attitudes, attitudes that you are brave, strong willed and that you will benefit from a healthy lifestyle change, not just physically but financially too.

That is the first step to success, letting go of denial and facing the truth. Once you’ve done that, you’re mind will open up and find ways to do it. If you find yourself making excuses or passing blame, and you wonder why you’re not making any progress, take a step back and examine how you are thinking. Perhaps, all you need is a paradigm shift.

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