In the last fifteen years, I became more and more aware of the current scientific and nutritional information as it applies to health and wellness. I’m not sure what year the Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen list was originally released, but it is one of the guidelines that I have used for the last five years. You may ask, why did I wait ten years to apply the guidelines to my life, if I found them so compelling?
I had myself convinced that healthy eating was much more expensive than a family of six could handle. We have been a one-salary household (besides occasional babysitting gigs) since I left my job in residential mental health services in early 2003; I am incredibly money-conscious and am in charge of our household budget.
Okay, I am cheap. But all for a good cause. I think?
When you factor in the added healthcare cost of higher blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, and other issues associated with eating “on the cheap” (which could mean eating healthy foods, but not in the right amounts; eating too much boxed or drive-through foods; not being organized and so buying impulse items at the store; or not having a balanced diet), you are actually not saving any money.
It’s best to think longer-term: make sure you KNOW what a serving size is, plan your shopping to fit prepared menus, and resolve to eliminate one unhealthy food from your shopping list every month. You can start from the list above, which notates which foods are healthy to eat from other countries or that travel long distances (keep in mind, that only Canada and specific E.U. countries have anything equivalent to an FDA or USDA-type guidelines), and which are best avoided unless you know that they are local, or are labeled non-GMO or organic. Add to that some additional rules, if you’d like: avoid fake sugars, anything that has as its first or second ingredient high-fructose corn syrup, and find lists of companies online that employ GMO corn or soy in their products. The first few times you will have to spend more time, especially in the dairy and produce aisles, but the effort will be well worth it.
It’s a lot to take in and think about, but your body, your health and – eventually! – your wallet will thank you. Mine did: I only spend about $30 more per month for our whole family, which is an average of $5 per person, per month. I’ve lost 23 pounds, my blood pressure and cholesterol have both gone down, and I have avoided medications for both conditions. Totally worth it! Happy eating!