Let me help to demystify the world of healthy food and eating. Is it worth buying the latest health food products? Do you need to pay for organic food? Do you need supplements? What are good cheap nutritious options when the budget is tight?
As a society we are conditioned into thinking that healthy food is expensive.
This is in part due to the price of meat, fish, and dairy. And due to the increase in popularity of so called “superfoods” and the higher cost of organic produce.
But sometimes we just lose sight of reality. Advertising campaigns often set out to convince us that certain expensive superfoods are better than others. When the reality is this: The nutrients which you get from cheap and cheerful veggies and legumes are just the same. It doesn’t have to be blueberries and goji berries. Apples and carrots are just fine! And that’s because all fruit and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients and when eaten regularly support a healthy well-balanced diet. There is no need for fancy imported products which cost a fortune. Rant over!!!
Let me help to demystify the good from the bad and show you where to save and where to spend your money.
Is organic more healthy and worth paying the extra money for?
When it comes to fruit and vegetables, you may wonder whether organic and the additional price is worth it for your health. By choosing organic, you are limiting your exposure to pesticides which can be absorbed into fruits and vegetables. But if you can’t afford to choose organic, shop more wisely: Buy conventional produce that are less likely to contain pesticide residues and save your “organic pounds” for the ones that will. Each year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) release a shopper’s guide to pesticides in produce which lists fruits and vegetables with the highest and lowest pesticide residues. Take a read of the dirty dozen to help you to decide when to splurge or not on organic produce:
Do I need to spend money on probiotics?
Marketing companies love promoting probiotics and advertising campaigns are all over them. Some of them go as far as saying that we cannot possibly be healthy without them! But do we really need to purchase these products?
Probiotics are live microorganisms promoted with claims that they provide health benefits by improving or restoring gut flora.
But rather than pay out for these, it is better just to stick to a whole food diet full of fibre.
And why? Well, probiotics don’t really hang around so they can only help in the short term. If you want to focus on your long-term health, it is much better to get your good bacteria from your diet and not supplements or drinks.
There are three ways to do this:
- Eat plenty of fibre rich foods. Fibre is crucial for your gut flora. It plays a role in digesting the food you eat as well as absorbing and producing nutrients. And the best source of fibre doesn’t come out of a bottle. It comes from plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans.
- Increase the diversity of your gut bacteria with fermented foods such as live yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso.
- Stay away from sugar rich foods which allow the bad gut bacteria to thrive.
The only time you would need to consider supplementing with probiotics is if you have had a course of antibiotics which have killed not only the bad bacteria but the good guys too. Or if you have had a bout of flu or a food-borne illness resulting in diarrhoea and vomiting as this may affect the balance of gut bacteria.
So, if you are currently spending money on products like Actimel, then think again and save the money. A quick read of the label indicates that each tiny bottle contains two and a half teaspoons of sugar. Eeeek!
Can healthy food be eaten on a budget?
Protein is an important part of a healthy, balanced diet. But often people think of protein as meat and fish, and these can be expensive. But there are many plant-based proteins which are cheap and incredibly versatile. Think about quinoa, lentils, and chickpeas. These are so easy to bung in a stew or casserole and are excellent sources of protein.
Don’t forget about the humble boiled egg. It’s a good source of protein and healthy fat as well as B vitamins and vitamin D
A can of sardines is another good option. Full of b vitamins, protein, and healthy fats. It’s a real winner, apart from the smell! You can eat straight from the can with lemon juice, mix with scrambled egg for breakfast or use as part of a salad instead of tuna for a change.
And here are a few other suggestions to help when eating on a budget:
Make some cheap sources rather than buying shop bought ones which are generally full of sugar. Try a pesto sauce made from pine nuts, a little parmesan, basil, and olive oil. And it can keep in the fridge for a week or so or be frozen.
And finally roast up a load of vegetables. They pack a punch in terms of nutrition and double up as tasty snacks the next day.
If you want to learn more about healthy eating, particularly if you are peri or menopausal, why not download my guide? It’s free and super helpful if you want to get your health back on track.