Thursday, May 24, 2012

Buy Food "Cheap", Eat Cheap Food

I had an interesting conversation with my son this morning.  I was concerned about his habit of using his spending money to buy junk food after school.  His response is that it's too expensive to buy healthy food on his small budget.  A new study by the USDA challenges this widely held belief. 

My Dad always said "When you buy food cheap, you eat cheap food!"  This is still true.  The trick is in how they calculate "cheapness".  Junk food often wins on a price per calorie basis.  However, if you look at the price per edible weight or cost to meet nutritional recommendations, it is better to stick with healthy foods.

Regardless of who wins on the purchase price, I have long argued that it is still more expensive to be sick from years of eating junk.  Similarly, I discourage the practice of forcing children to keep eating when they are no longer hungry.  You should avoid wasting food, but it is more of a waste to your health to keep eating after you are full.

Quick tips for eating healthy on a budget:
1. Get most of your protein from beans and lentils (mmmmmm, that good ole navy bean!)
2. Fresh is best (try growing your faves).  If you must, frozen plain vegetables are the next best thing (NOT sauced up varieties loaded with salt and fat).
3. Watch those "healthy" labels carefully for sugar content.  Something can be vegetarian, vegan, halal, kosher, gluten free AND loaded with sugar! (tricky, tricky, tricky)
Check out the story on NPR Here.  You can link to the full USDA report Here

Peace & health,

Dr. Safiyya

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