In our time of obsessive weight loss and changing food culture, “eating healthy” has become a slogan we all want to get behind. More often than not, however, this means shelling out the big bucks on everything with the “organic” label on it, all the while spending more time at restaurants than in your own kitchen because you are simply unsure of what you should and should not be eating. Eating healthy is not easy, it is a commitment and it may be a lifestyle change, however it does not have to be overly expensive. There are several things one should know when taking this important step.
Be clear about what terms like “organic” “natural” ” growth hormone free” mean. Most people only have a vague idea of what it means for something to be any of those things. It is good to know that although the “organic” label is heavily controlled, “natural” is not and therefore may not be as healthy as it may seem. Although in recent years we have been conditioned to think that organic is the only way to go, another important thing to consider is that it is expensive for small and local farmers to get that all-important stamp. In many cases, produce and dairy products may very well be organic, but for monetary reasons were not able to officially qualify. When buying at farmers markets or health stores, it is more effective to look for labels such as “free roaming” or “pesticide free” instead of limiting yourself to the organic products. In many cases, these options will be cheaper for the consumer and actually benefit smaller farms. Similarly, a distinction between “organic” and “growth hormone free” can mean saving several dollars on your dairy purchases. Whereas something that is labeled organic prohibits both growth hormones and any kind of antibiotics to be used on the milk-producing animal, “hormone free” implies that although no hormones are injected, necessary antibiotics will be administered should an animal require medical attention. Knowing these differences will most certainly help on the next trip to the supermarket.
Know the facts. Although most vegetables and fruits are available in an organic variation, not all of them necessarily need to be bought as such. Some vegetables, such as spinach and apples, for example, are known to be particularly contaminated with harmful pesticides, while other, such as onions and broccoli are usually far less affected. Ideally, we would be selecting the healthiest options available with every product we buy, however as that could run a costly price tag, it is helpful to familiarize yourself with both the most and least contaminated in order to make the correct choice. To learn more about the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen”, visit www.organic.org.articles/showarticle/article-214
Consume less meat. Eating meat is not bad or unethical, but the treatment of the animals prior to begetting that meat often is, and that is something of which to be conscious. Whatever your moral standpoint on this topic, it is definitely cheaper and healthier to lower your intake of meats. Even if you have no feelings on the mistreatment of cattle, you should have feelings about how those mistreatments affect you. Growth hormones, drugs, and gross bodily mutilations render meat to nearly inedible proportions and taking away most health benefits that it may have once had. But what about protein, you ask? Most Americans go over their daily requirement for protein, but on the other hand they take in only about half of their necessary fiber. Beans, legumes, grains, and veggies are all excellent sources of fiber and some of them even provide the extra protein should you miss it. Since dried sources of protein such as beans, legumes, and nuts, can be bought in bulk and will last you much longer than any meat is likely to, you will definitely be cutting your grocery bill by a significant amount.
Eat in Season. This is a pretty common sense suggestion. Eating in season gives you a better chance of buying produce locally, because it is easily available. Locally grown foods are usually bred for their taste and quality instead of their toughness and ability to survive transport, making it both healthier and more delicious. Furthermore, as the law of supply and demand would have it, if something is liberally available, the price for it will most certainly go down, giving you yet another opportunity to spend less money on something better for you.
Following these simple tenets, you will have an excellent chance of being healthier for much less than you would think!