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This article is a guest post written by Sheila Olson of Fit Sheila.
Despite the many benefits of a nutritionally balanced diet, there are many challenges that keep people from eating well. For one, eating healthy is seen as somewhat of a luxury - processed convenience food may be nutritionally empty, but it’s cheap and filling. But perhaps the biggest difficulty for most people is sticking with a diet in the long run, especially when they tie their healthy eating to a body ideal.
What if the problem wasn’t with the food but with the way we perceive it? We tend to see healthy food as an expensive and difficult path to a “better” body. In this post, we will explore how these two ideas get in the way of a balanced diet that nourishes us physically and mentally.
Healthy Eating Doesn’t Have To Be Expensive
It’s easy to see why people think eating healthy is the pricier option. Walk down the supermarket aisles and you will see fresh produce priced several times higher than processed foods. According to Vox, this is because produce costs more to harvest, since it needs to be carefully picked by humans. Crops like wheat, soy, and corn can be harvested with machines.
A cart full of fresh produce will be much pricier than processed meals. But that doesn’t mean healthy eating itself is more expensive. The ingredients you buy can be used to make several meals, all of which will keep you fuller for longer. In the long run, healthy eating is cheaper.
Here are a few things you can do to reduce the impact of healthy eating on your wallet:
Shop on sites like Amazon (which offers groceries, supplements, and more) and try using Amazon coupon codes to help you save even more
Stock up on healthy canned goods like fish, pulses, and vegetables, as well as veg from the frozen aisle
Make healthy big batch meals that you can freeze for later
Be organized with your supermarket shopping
Learn to replicate versions of your favourite takeout meals at home (curries are a great place to start)
Healthy Eating Isn’t About Your Appearance
In a 2018 survey, almost 100% of respondents cited weight loss as a motivation for watching what they eat. While people are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of eating well for overall health, most people are still motivated by weight loss and appearance when trying to change their habits.
This ties motivation to eat well to something that takes time, which means you either give up or you turn to fad diets to speed up the weight loss. It also associates healthy eating with something negative (e.g., a dislike of your body). This will almost always lead to you putting too much pressure on yourself to never “give in to temptation,” and ultimately reverting back to unhealthier habits when you do.
The ideal approach is to shift your focus inwards. The benefits of a healthy diet include a better mood — which is directly related to your gut health, your stomach and its microbiome, and the foods you eat — and a reduced risk of cancer, stroke, heart disease, and more.
It can help you live better, for longer, and feel better throughout your day. This is far more important than how you look. It’s okay to want to lose weight, but thinking about it from a more well-rounded perspective can help you avoid unhealthy (and potentially dangerous) dieting behaviours.
You should also learn how to make healthy food taste good with seasoning and the best cooking methods. This goes hand-in-hand with the money-saving tips in the previous section: when you plan and cook your own meals, you are in control of what you eat and how it tastes, so it’s much easier to make tasty, healthy food.
It’s time to shift your idea of healthy eating toward something positive. It doesn’t have to be expensive and it doesn’t have to be painful and punishing. Cooking healthy food can be cheap, practical, delicious, and nutritious.
Focus on these aspects, and you will find your diet naturally becoming more filling and satisfying, without you having to punish your body or your wallet for it.
Find out more about Shiela Olson and her work on her website.