As a Registered Dietitian, I have heard this statement made countless number of times, even among healthcare professionals, so in return I have asked the question why do people have these assumptions. These are some of the commonly held views as it relates to healthy eating and its relation to money.
#1 Organic foods are expensive
#2 Fruits and vegetables are expensive
#3 Fast foods are cheaper
I will now attempt to debunk these myths:
#1 The fact is we do not promote ‘eating organic.’ Organic farming is really a type of agricultural process which aims to eliminate the use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. Most of the foods that are sold in the supermarket with ‘Organic’ claims are imported, hence the additional mark-up. However if persons would like to reduce these chemicals without the additional price tag, I would encourage home gardening. This way you would have control as to what chemicals are used in your foods, this not only saves money but fosters a healthier sense of well-being, not too mention also getting in some much needed physical activity! If you do have concerns about the chemicals in your produce sufficient washing or even use of vinegar can be used to wash some fruits and vegetables.
#2 Another strongly held opinion is that ‘fruit and vegetables are expensive’ whilst I agree that there is a significant markup in the price of fruits and vegetables, it is well established that these food groups possess our much needed vitamins and minerals. Further to which they are vital for managing chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and are protective for cancers. So how can we encourage them?
Here are a few tips:
Tip 1 Buy In Season
Seasonal fruits and vegetables tend to be cheaper and also encourages a break from the monotony of what we are used to eating. Different fruits and vegetables also contain different vitamins and minerals…so as the saying goes variety is the spice of life!
Tip 2 Buy In Bulk
When vegetables and fruits are in season, you can purchase in bulk and by using some simple freezer preparation practices, you can safely store and have produce that is not in season all year round, this helps to save money.
Tip 3 Add To Your Favourite Dishes
A good way to increase your fruit and vegetable intake is to add them to your meals. This not only boost the overall nutritive value but also improves the taste. For example, dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries or dates can be stirred into porridges; pod beans such as saim, bodi or string beans can be added to your meat dishes such as curried chicken and bodi and vegetables such as carrots and pumpkin can be included into your rice dishes. This also helps increase the fibre content of the dishes.
#3 Fast Foods are cheaper- yes we have all seen the promotions- that feed to this concept that fast foods are cheap foods. But let’s look at it from a different view point, most fast foods are fried, hence the fast method of cooking, so in terms of nutritional value for money, what you are really paying for is fats and oil, simple carbohydrates and protein, as many of these foods lack the much needed fruits and vegetables. Realistically when comparing the purchase of fast food for a family of 4 versus the purchase of food items to make a lunch meal for a family of 4, the money speaks for its self. The investment in good health goes a long way, not only for yourself but for your family. Now don’t get me wrong there will be times fast food maybe an option, but generally persons should not be using these foods regularly to meet their nutritional needs, as in the long run the healthcare bill will outweigh the food bill.