10 Smart Tips For Over 30’s To Eat Healthy On A Budget [2018 Update]

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The struggle is real. I often see patients who want to make favorable food choices for themselves or their families, but the cost of buying healthy things feels like yet another obstacle. Clean food offers health benefits that are profoundly necessary for our long-term well-being and make a significant difference in our lives. Professionally, I am well versed in the benefits of buying organic fruits and vegetables, purchasing fresh fish vs farm-raised and opting for free-range poultry or grass-fed and finished beef. Every forkful that touches our lips communicates either vitality or disease—it really is that simple.

I think back to the days when I was a struggling graduate student spending all my student loan money eating clean at Whole Foods and Chipotle. And then there was the even scarier next step of trying to grow a practice from scratch with no income and no trimester loans coming in to feed me (protein shakes, thank goodness for protein shakes). So I get it. I understand how even the most determined commitment to healthy eating can take the backseat to an empty bank account.

Does Eating Healthy Really Cost More?

Mindset is everything. Please be aware that the long-term benefits of healthy eating will come back to you in the form of inexpensive health care and that the “value meal” is of no value when you factor in sick days or trips to the doctor. A grass-fed steak may cost more by the pound, but being lean, healthy and energized is priceless.

Are Your Personal Food Habits Robbing The Bank?

When my followers and patients say to me that they cannot afford to eat healthily, I ask them to look more closely at their food bill in terms of wants vs needs. What are you spending on your morning coffee-shop latte and low-fat bald cupcakes?

Are you purchasing soft drinks and fancy juices while out for lunch? How often are you snacking between meals and are those snacks necessary? Hopefully, you are seeing how shifts in habit can potentially add room in your budget for grass-fed beef and wild-caught salmon. Here are my top ten suggestions to help you stretch your food dollar in a healthier manner.

Go Seasonal

Timing is everything and locally grown, seasonal purchases allow for fresher, more nutrient-dense and palatable produce. And it is usually less expensive. Learn what grows seasonally where you are and save yourself a few bucks by supporting local farmers. This is a win for your community and your nutrition.

Buy Frozen And Stock Up

Fresh is always best, but sometimes buying produce in bulk can waste money simply because we do not use the food before it spoils. You want to consume foods that rot (fruits, vegetables, meats) because these fuel the body with vital nutrients. Stock the freezer with frozen essentials that work well in soups, shakes, stews and side dishes.

Skip Convenience Foods

It truly is a luxury to purchase pre-sliced veggies, trimmed chicken breasts, and pre-cooked everything. Supermarkets are great at stocking the shelves with these expensive time-savers. Once you realize that one pre-sliced onion costs just as much as several organic ones or that you can buy a whole bird for the price of four tiny drumsticks, it does not take long to realize that dedicating a little time to food prep can save you loads on your grocery bill.

Eat Pegan

This style of paleo-vegan hybrid eating simply encourages having more plant-based foods on your plate. Grass-fed beef and wild-caught fish are loaded with nutrients, high-quality protein, and essential fatty acids. However, they can be pricey when you’re feeding a family of four or more. Allow your dollar and your health to work in your favor by loading your plate
with inexpensive leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, healthy fats like avocado and slow-digesting, high-fiber carbs like quinoa, squash, and legumes.

Drink More Water

Hydration is a beautiful state and it doesn’t come from expensive coffees, teas, sodas, fruit juices or liquors. Good old-fashioned water is the best source of hydration. You need a minimum of half your body weight in ounces each day, plus more if you drink beverages that act as a diuretic. Most people don’t realize that proper hydration makes them feel more focused and energized than any caffeinated beverage ever could. Flavor your water with fruit essence or essential oils if you prefer a tasty twist.

Replace One Meal With A Protein Shake

The morning rush or lack of appetite are two excuses people use to get out the door without their first meal of the day. A nutrient-rich shake offers safe, effective and sustainable weight loss and decreases weight-related risk factors for disease. For less than a designer coffee, you can enjoy a filling, fat-burning and inflammatory-free shake made with frozen berries, chia seeds, spinach, high-quality protein and unsweetened coconut milk—and trust me, they taste delightful when you get the right mix of ingredients.

Learn What Grows Seasonally Where You Are And Save Yourself A Few Bucks By Supporting Local Farmers. This Is A Win For Your Community And Your NutritionClick To Tweet

Eat High-Fiber Foods With Every Meal

Fiber is your friend. It curbs cravings, balances your blood sugar, delays stomach emptying, makes you eat less, feel fuller and helps you have poops you can be proud of. Fill your plate with a few fiber-rich foods like avocado, nuts, seeds, leafy greens and vegetables. If you supplement your fiber, mix it with a giant glass of water 30 minutes before meals for extra weight-loss benefits.

Let Sundays Be Your Day Of Prep

Whether the goal is fat loss or feeding the family healthy meals, planning ahead will save you time, money and effort. I encourage my patients to cook extra at dinner to carry over as lunch the next day. This eliminates the need to order in or grab carry-out when they get busy. Having a specific day of the week set aside to prepare multiple meals, side dishes or get organized keeps you on track.

Brew Your Own

Allow me to state the obvious: those fancy coffees and teas are a significant burden on the pocketbook. You are better off investing in your own brewer and cutting yourself a financial break. Limit these outings to business meetings and friend dates. Spend the rest of your days being your own barista.

Know The Dirty Dozen And The Clean 15

It would be wonderful for our health and wellbeing if every food were certified organic. It can be very difficult to justify spending significantly more for organic produce; therefore it is imperative you understand the difference between the Dirty Dozen—the top 12 most contaminated foods that you should always buy organic, and the Clean 15—the produce with few to trace contaminants that you can buy conventionally.

Dirty Dozen

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Grapes
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes

Clean 15

  • Avocados
  • Sweet corn
  • Pineapples
  • Cabbage
  • Frozen sweet peas
  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Papayas
  • Kiwis
  • Eggplant
  • Honeydew melon
  • Grapefruit
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower

While I wrote this article with your budget in mind, thinking beyond money is crucial. You can always look for a bargain, but you cannot put a price on your health or on setting a healthy example for your family. Allow yourself the financial freedom that comes from investing in your health.


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