You must have heard it at least once – you are what you eat. Yet, making healthy food choices can be difficult. Location, level of education, food and income availability are some factors that can affect making healthy choices. Our food choices can either make us or break us. So it’s important to be knowledgeable on how to make the right choices.
As a dietitian, one of the many comments I hear most often is that “It’s cheaper to buy unhealthy foods than healthy items.” Quantity is valued in this case than quality. For example a bag of apples can cost $4.99 while a box of donuts with nine in each box cost $2.50. Food shopping can be tedious but if done properly, it makes eating healthy simpler. Below are few tips on how to shop cheaper, for healthy foods:
– Make a shopping list before going food shopping.
– Buy according to seasonal availability
– Buy fresh fruits and vegetables from markets or directly from farmers (if available) because it’s cheaper and fresher
– Buy when there are sales going on in stores
– Use coupons, wherever you can
Another complaint I often hear is that some people genuinely do not have the right information about food groups, so are unable to make healthy choices. A few tips to help:
Grains: Grains are major source of carbohydrate which provides 15g/Cal/serving. It’s best to choose whole wheat grains, bread, brown rice and pasta that provide the same 15gs per serving plus fibre, than white bread and rice. Whole wheat products are complex carbohydrates; they contain more fibre and low in fat. They help to prevent over-eating because you get fuller quicker, as supposed to when eating white rice and white bread. When choosing baked goods, avoid the ones made with full cream or fat. For those who bake, adding vegetables and fruits such as zucchini, apples and carrots can help increase the fibre content.
Fruits and Vegetables: I am sure we all have heard eat fruits and vegetables to be healthy or increase your fruits and vegetables. It is true that fruits and vegetables are healthy choices; however, vegetables are much healthier because they are considered complex carbs and high in fibre. Fruits are simple carbs and contain more sugar. Eating two medium apples plus grapes and maybe a banana in order to fulfil the “eat fruits daily to improve your health” will actually lead to excessive sugar in your system.
Meat, Poultry, Fish and Nuts: Choose lean mean over medium and high fat meat. While lean meat will give you 7g/Cal/ serving size, medium or high fat meat will add extra 2 to 3 fat servings with the same serving. Remove skin from chicken and bake or grill instead of frying. Fish is a source of protein as well as calcium. Other sources of protein include nuts, eggs and legumes.
Dairy: Dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yoghurt are good sources of calcium which are important for bone growth, especially for children. Adults can supplement with vitamin to help with bones.
Fat, Sweets and Oils: Sweets should be consumed sparingly. Sweets are empty calories that lead to weight gain, abdominal obesity, and decrease in HDL (good cholesterol), increase in LDL (bad cholesterol), elevated triglycerides and high blood pressure. This picture is a very interesting one that surprises many of my patients. It shows how much sugar we consume in each of those drinks. Every time you gulp down a can of Coke, Sprite or Fanta, you are gulping down that amount of sugar as shown in the picture.
Water: Some say that water is an acquired taste, yet it’s one of the healthiest favours you can actually do yourself. The body is made up of 70% water, and when you are dehydrated, it can lead to a lot of health and other problems. When you are thirsty, drink water – not a fizzy drink or milky drink; just plain, water. The recommended amount of water consumption is three litres per day, per adult.
This is the second blog post in the Healthier This Quarter series.
Adebisi Ibrahim (BSc, MS, RDN, CDN) is a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist based, in New York City. She is a Food, Dietetics, and Nutrition graduate from the Herbert Lehman College, NYC and can be reached on Facebook
DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is not intended to replace consultation with a physician. Please see your doctor without delay if you have any symptoms that you are unsure of. Do not stop taking any prescribed medication or start any lifestyle changes without your own doctor’s supervision. This website is for your information only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition
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