college · Health And Nutrition · My Life · wellness

Does Eating A Healthy Diet Cost More?

A few days ago my mother shared an article with me by the Harvard Gazette titled “Pinpointing the higher cost of a healthy diet.” 

In this news article posted earlier this month, the researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health examined the difference in cost between eating a nutritious diet and eating an unhealthy diet. Summarizing their results, they reported that “On average, a day’s worth of the healthiest diet patterns cost about $1.50 more per day than the least healthy ones. … Over the course of a year, $1.50/day more for eating a healthy diet would increase food costs for one person by about $550 per year.”

$550 per person per year is a lot of money. That extra cost could be really hard for some families.


I even witness this when I go out to eat at restaurants. The more healthful dishes at restaurants tend to be more expensive than the alternatives. This does not help invite families to adopt healthful lifestyles.

Not only does a healthy diet cost more, it can also require more time and effort to prepare. I find this up at college as well. When life gets hectic and stressful, it can be hard to find time for preparing healthful foods. However, these times are some of the most important times for me to eat healthfully so my body can run and heal efficiently.

Even though eating a nutritious diet can cost more, I believe the costs are worth it in the long run. As the researchers from Harvard discovered, the price difference “is very small in comparison to the economic costs of diet-related chronic diseases, which would be dramatically reduced by healthy diets.”

A healthier diet helps promote better sleep, more sustained energy throughout the day, higher levels of immunity, faster healing, and more strength. In addition, this can lead to fewer sick days, taken from work, fewer doctor visits, and fewer medical bills and pricey medications. These benefits can help offset the higher cost of healthier food. As Benjamin Franklin once related: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Nonetheless, are there ways we can cut down on the costs of healthful foods?

Here are my tips on saving money and time for buying and preparing healthful foods.

1. Keep it simple.

When you’re in a rush, you don’t have to spend hours preparing a four-course meal. I love meals that can be quickly thrown together based on what I have on hand. When throwing together a meal, I try to have: a vegetable(s), a fruit, whole grain/starchy veg, protein (usually beans since they’re cheaper than meat), and a source of healthful fat in every meal. Lentils, whole grain pasta, mixed vegetables, and marinara sauce. Lentil soup, spinach, orange. Soymilk, apple, kale, ground flaxseed, oatmeal, etc. It doesn’t have to be fancy.

2. Prepare foods ahead of time.

If weekends are the time you have to make some things, prepare your meals a week ahead to help with the craziness later in the week. This is one reasons why I love my crock pot and Rubbermaid containers. I can prepare a meal earlier in the day and have dinner cooking for me while I’m at class. I can also prepare my own beans instead of buying the canned beans. One bag of dry beans gets me over eight cans worth of beans for a mere fraction of the cost.

3. Have easy and healthy snacks on hand and available.

I always have fresh fruits and vegetables on hand. I also like to keep some Progresso Lentil Soup on hand, as well as homemade hummus. If I want a quick meal/snack, I grab my container of hummus and Ziploc bags of veggies and dig in while reading or working on a school assignment.

4. Cut, prepare, and cook things yourself at home.

Instead of spending the extra money on pre-cut vegetables and fruit, you can cut your own baby carrots, celery sticks, cauliflower florets, apple slices, etc. A head of lettuce only takes a couple minutes to be chopped at home instead of spending twice as much on a pre-chopped bag. Carrots can be sliced into sticks, as well as celery into celery sticks. Beans can be prepared in a slow cooker or on the stove. (One bag of dry beans can make multiple cans worth of beans for a fraction of the cost.)

5. Eat at home. Make your own version of “fast food” meals.

Sadly, the more healthful dishes at the restaurants cost more than preparing the food at home. One thing I love to do is make “copycats” at home of certain foods I love from stores and restaurants. (For example, my Panera Inspired Black Bean Soup, my Great Harvest Inspired Honey Whole Wheat Bread, Great Harvest Inspired Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread, homemade soft serve, granola bars, etc.)

6. Check the sales at the grocery store!

If one of your staples goes on sale, stock up on it (if you know you’ll use it and it can store well)! Check the sales, compare to generic versions, and purchase produce closer in season.

7. Go to the store with a list.

This helps me stay focused while I’m walking the aisles of the stores and helps me get in, get out, and have a few moments at home to chop, bag, and put things away. This also helps when I’m planning my meals for the week.

8. Use coupons smartly.

Coupons are great for products you already use, but sometimes coupons aren’t worth it. Sometimes the coupons would just make your bill larger without buying you the things you really need. Sometimes the generic version is still cheaper than the name brand with a coupon.

9. If you buy frozen vegetables, buy the LARGE bags.

Typically these are cheaper, and you can use Ziploc bags to divide the large bag into smaller and easier to use servings.

10. Don’t buy things you won’t use.

This last semester I bought a jar of salsa that I figured I’d use some time or another, but I NEVER used it. I didn’t even want it. If you won’t use a large bag of something before it goes bad, don’t buy it. Buy what you know you will use and pass the rest.

11. Make large batches.

If I’m going to spend time preparing a meal, I like to prepare certain foods in large batches (like lentils, black beans, chickpeas, grains, soups, etc.) and store the extras in the fridge for the next few days. This helps when life gets hectic. I can grab a container of this and a container of that, throw in a vegetable or fruit and call it a meal.

12. Use smart tools.

With a little creativity you can make meals cheaper at home instead of spending a fortune at the store.

  1. I love using a misting spray bottle to make my own homemade non-stick cooking spray. Pour the oil into the spray bottle along with some water, shake, and mist over the skillet. Much cheaper and environmentally friendly than the alternative, and it doesn’t take a lot of effort to put together or use.
  2. In addition to my crock pot and blender, I love my microwave steamer – While my pasta is cooking on the stove, I can steam my vegetables in the microwave. Much more compact than taking out a large steamer. It’s also faster, cooking my vegetables in half the time.

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What are your thoughts on the higher costs of eating healthy diets?

Is the extra $1.50 per person per day worth it?

What are ways you save money while eating healthfully?

What is one of your goals for this coming new year? (Happy 2014!)

with lots of hugs,

Kathleen

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Balance With Self · Fitness · Health And Nutrition · How do things work in my body? · My Life · wellness

Is Balance Possible? Can Wellness be Achieved? Things I’ve Learned This Past Year.

Over the past few years, I’ve been striving to find balance with myself. This past week, I’ve thought about what I’ve learned over the past years about what seeking balance means to me and how I can obtain overall wellness.

Some of the things I have learned include:

1. Wellness is not one-dimensional.


In my own life I have witnessed how health wellness involve more than just the physical aspects of eating nutritious food, exercising and strengthening muscles, and sleeping/resting. Wellness also involves social health, emotional health, spiritual health, environmental health, mental health, and occupational and financial health in addition to the well-known physical health aspect. Each of these aspects of health interconnects and directly or indirectly influences each other. The things we do every day have an effect on each category of wellness – not just one. We have to look at wellness from different angles to get a better picture of the whole situation. In my own life I have found that I may do doing well socially, but if I’m not doing well spiritually or mentally then I feel sort of “sick,” lacking in one area or another.

2. Balance, Health, and Wellness relate but differ in their meanings.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

Balance is “a state in which different things occur in equal or proper amounts or have an equal or proper amount of importance” (source). Thus, if I am striving for balance, I need to set priorities, make sure each area of my life has the right amount of focus/importance, etc. Family, work, school, health, friends and relatives, blog, life, home, finances, goals for future, etc. There’s a lot to find balance with in life, but that adds to the fun of it. 🙂

Health is “the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit; especially:  freedom from physical disease or pain” (source). Nonetheless, I don’t think life is entirely without pain or disease. Some individuals may have a disease beyond their capacity or control. Intolerances, Allergies, Conditions, etc. I think being “healthy” involves finding what works best for your body, determining how your body reaches its balance best, and then following through with it.

Wellness is “the quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal” (source). I really like this definition. Wellness is an actively sought goal.

So, is wellness achievable or is it just a goal? Is wellness maintainable? I think wellness has to do with the homeostasis concept: its level doesn’t “stand still” and act passive., but it also isn’t exactly in the same stage at different times in life. It can stay within the same “realm” of wellness though. (Does that explanation make any sense? If not, let me know below.)

3. Stress can be a good thing and a bad thing. 

The difference is how we use and react to that stress. Through school, stress helped me focus on my schoolwork and give me motivation to do my best. However, it could also have a negative effect if I didn’t use properly. For example, if I have a very stressful day and don’t work the energy out of my system, it can build up inside, want to explode, and not let me sleep. I know that when I have a stressful day, working out that energy building up inside me is one of the best ways for me to relax, refocus, and calm myself down.

Some of the best ways I’ve found to relieve stress include: exercising; calling up my family on Skype; putting on my favorite music and singing along; doing my favorite hobbies (I love baking, frosting and decorating cupcakes, cross-stitching, coloring/sketching, playing the piano, blogging, etc.); going out with my friends; playing dress-up (yep, I still do it – I love mixing and matching different outfits and picking out different things to wear that week); doing a manicure/makeover/”spa-day;” watching my favorite videos on YouTube; etc. Sometimes I just need a little peace and quiet, so a walk can do the trick.

4. Starvation can occur on a macronutrient and a micronutrient basis.

If I don’t feed myself the nutrients my body needs, it will still be “hungry.” I believe this concept also resonates spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and occupationally (to an extent). One of my beliefs is that the modern world employs too much effort in curing diseases than preventing them. Don’t take me wrong — there has been a lot of good that has come with modern medicines, but I also think modern medicine has its place. I feel we should try to balance our bodies (nutriently, exercising, relieving stress, etc.) first and then consider medications instead of just popping in the pill.  I do wish doctors would solve certain nutrient problems in a more natural way to get some individuals off of medications they are taking unnecessarily. Truly, if all the benefits of exercise could be put in a pill, it’d be the most prescribed medication on the planet.  (Btw, always talk to your doctor before making changes in the kinds and amounts of medications you take.)

QUESTION: Does balance mean having the self-control not to eat the cookie because you know it is not micronutriently nourishing, or is balance in relaxing and allowing yourself the cookie without feelings of guilt? What does having a balanced diet mean? What do you think?

5. “Crying is not a sign of weakness. Since birth it’s been a sign of life.”

I must admit: Sometimes I don’t allow myself to cry. Sometimes I just hold it in, bite my lip, and keep the tears in. Maybe someone forgot I was there and skipped over me; maybe someone said something that hurt; maybe I miss someone and wish he or she was there – whichever the case, I typically hold it in. I tend to be a quiet person, especially when I feel hurt or alone. When I cry, my stress and emotions tied in with those tears flow out instead of building up and exploding. I feel better. I feel more at peace. It’s okay to cry. Sometimes they are happy tears; other times they’re sad. But either way, they are a part of life.

6. Laughing is the best kind of medicine.

Even though there are times to cry, most of the time it’s better to focus on the positive. The world has a lot going on now. Wars and rumors of wars, chaos breaking out, man’s care and concern for his fellowmen failing – it can fill an individual with a lot of despair. I find it hard to read the news. It’s just filled with so many sad things happening in the world that it hurts to read or hear about them. But then again, as my mother emphasizes to me, it’s important to know what is going on and be aware of the circumstances. When I have these sorrowful feelings, looking for the good in the world can change my whole perspective. Yes, there is dark in the world, but there is also light, especially the grandest Light of all.

7. Sleep is an important nutrient.

With college classes, it can be easy to find excuses for staying up late and not getting to bed at a decent hour. Stuff to do, things to write, items to look up – the lists gets longer and longer until – oh gosh, it’s practically morning! With my experience up at college, I know I am always more productive throughout the day when I get a good night’s sleep the night before. I focus better on my readings for class and understand with better clarity the things my teachers are saying. I study more efficiently. I’m more “alive” and less grouchy. I also always sleep longer and better when I get to bed at an earlier hour. If it’s past midnight when my head finally hits the pillow, I’m lucky to get 6-7 hours of sleep. However, if I get to bed by 10:00 p.m., I can sleep 9 hours and wake-up at 7:00 a.m. easily. Honoring my body’s signals that she’s tired (not just physically, but spiritually and emotionally too), I can take better care of her and allow her to rest so she can bloom.

8. “When we stop learning we stop growing.”

I’m far from perfect. The more I learn, the more I realize there is so much more to discover and learn. Actively learning new things on a daily basis feeds my mind. Feasting upon the words of Christ feeds my spirit. Recycling, choosing less processed foods, and picking natural products over more commercialized ones can help nourish the environment. Reaching out of my social comfort bubble and serving others helps me become a better friend. Recognizing the blessings in my life and thanking others for their generous love and care towards me increases my ability to see the good in the world and not take things for granted. Every day is another day to try a little harder to be a little better. I’m only a sophomore in college. I’ve learned a lot up to this point about life, myself, things bigger than me and things beyond the sight of the eye; and I still have a lot to learn in the next years of my life.

9. Setting goals has an incredible impact on our lives.

I’m not talking about those bucket-lists of things to do, but actual goals you want to achieve. It’s amazing how setting and writing down goals in a place I can see them regularly motivate me and stimulate my mind to think of ways to achieve them. For instance, one of my goals was to become a tutor at my college and a teacher assistant for my favorite professor. When I set those goals, I started planning in my head how I could achieve them and then took the opportunities as they came. A few of my other goals include: learning Spanish, working at the wellness center on campus, playing all the hymns in the hymnal, earn my Bachelor’s degree, becoming a Certified Health Education Specialist (as well as a Certified Work-site Wellness Coach and Health Coach), certifying in CPR and First Aid, earn a Master’s degree, and many more. Goals keep me motivated. I love checklists where I set goals for the day and I can check them off as I achieve them. That feeling of scratching them out is the best! This goes along with the learning and growing point above. Setting goals helps us grow and accomplish things we never thought we were capable of before. It helps us see we are stronger than we think.

10. Quality is better than quantity.

I’ve been pondering this one a lot recently. Whenever I’m at the store, I’ve found that getting only a few pieces of clothing of higher quality is worth more to me than multiple items of less quality that I’ll never wear. (Another reason I love the thrift store – I can find some amazing quality pieces while spending less than I would at the department store. I don’t care for the brand name of the clothing – the quality of how it’s made and what it’s made of is worth more than the name on the tag.) Whenever I’m spending time with my family, I want the time we spend to be more than just passively watching television and not talking. Talking, laughing together, doing activities together, growing, learning, giving of my time – love truly is spelled “t-i-m-e.” Whenever I’m studying for my classes, I quality of my study is better than staring at it for hours on end not taking in the information. (That’s one reason why I made sure to go to the Anatomy and Physiology Open Lab each week before class and study the muscles/bones there. I would learn as much there in 30 minutes as I would at home in 3 hours trying to do it by myself.) I want to live within my means, be the best mother I can (when that time comes in my life), share the light and joy I feel through Christ with others, and provide for my family and future family in the best way I can. I know that through the Lord’s strengthening hand, I can learn from my experiences, develop the talents He knows I can develop, and find balance with my body, my spirit, and my mind.

11. My body is a temple.

And it deserves to be treated like such.


Remember: You are loved. You are special. You are of worth. ❤

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I would love to hear your opinion, thoughts, and/or experiences with seeking/striving for balance and wellness in your life. What are some of the things you have learned this past year? What are you are grateful for? 🙂

With lots of hugs,

Kathleen

 

Health And Nutrition

Naturally Relieving Stress

Hey My Cinnamon Swirls!

How do you feel about stress? During the past weeks I’ve had the chance to relax a little bit (while still getting things done) and spend time at home with my family and friends. At school I pretty much lived in stress.  That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it kept me on my toes and helped me focus on my classes. But, I also know that not dealing with stress appropriately can have some negative effects on your health.

As a part of my journey towards balance I’ve been endeavoring to implement ways to lessen the stress in my life or at least deal with it appropriately. One thing that’s helped me is to have a good laugh every day. So, here is a video that I’ve been enjoying recently. Every time I watch it I can’t stop laughing since it’s so true! If you’re all into eating natural foods, I know you’ll enjoy this. 😉

 

with lots of hugs, 

Kathleen