Wed | May 31, 2023

Benefits of healthy living on a budget

Published:Wednesday | March 1, 2023 | 12:20 AMKeisha Hill/Senior Gleaner Writer

Eating healthy when money is tight can be challenging, as today, food is more expensive than ever before. The cost of food has increased for several reasons, including inflation, labour shortages, the war in Ukraine and pandemic-related supply chain issues. The good news is you can save on healthy food with a little know-how and a few simple strategies.

At its most basic, healthy eating can be defined as fuelling your body with nourishing, whole foods. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to healthy eating as everyone can find a balanced diet that tastes good and feels good for them.

Dr Rivane Chybar Virgo, medical doctor, and health and wellness coach, said unfortunately there is a misconception that you have to break the bank if you want to eat healthy. During a weekly Health Talk Sunday Series, Dr Chybar Virgo during her presentation ‘Healthy Living On A Budget’ said eating on a budget does not mean you have to sacrifice nutrition.

“Living a healthy lifestyle does not have to take money away from your financial goals. Healthy living is important because the foods we eat provide our bodies with the nutrients that we need, we are energised and we perform better at work. We are stronger and our immune system can fight any disease,” Dr Chybar Virgo said.

According to her, since the pandemic, people have been living in a tight economic situation and they have been trying their best to cut down on their expenses.

“We are trying to save more but something is also there saying you have to take care of your health. Many people view taking care of their health as a luxury based on what is seen on television or on social media.”

However, she said there are strategies that can help you to live a healthy lifestyle, while on a budget.

Dr Chybar Virgo said sometimes we believe we need fancy machines or hours in the gym to get in shape, but exercising outside is more cost effective than equipment, classes or memberships. The added bonus is fresh air which everyone needs.

“So, take a hike, go for a walk, or go running outside. Nature’s gym is cheaper than going to the gym. Also, research shows spending just 20 minutes outside reduces stress and strengthens your body,” she said.

GOOD FOR THE BODY AND THE BUDGET

Dr Chybar Virgo said eating healthy on a budget is possible – you just have to be intentional. One way to be intentional is to meal plan. Meal planning is deciding up front and on purpose what you will eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks throughout the week.

“Plan out all those healthy meals and make a list of ingredients you need. Think about what you already have in your cupboard and fridge, then go to the grocery store and buy only what is on your list to make those meals happen. Meal planning is good for the body and the budget,” she said.

When you are shopping, do not forget to buy more than just meals. You need healthy snacks on hand for everyone in the house. Keep them at work too, so you do not run to the snack machine every time your tummy growls. You will curb those junk-food cravings, which can get expensive and are rarely a smart health decision.

Dr Chybar Virgo said when you prepare your own meals, you have more control over the ingredients. By cooking for yourself, you can ensure that you and your family eat fresh, wholesome meals. This can help you to look and feel healthier, boost your energy, stabilise your weight and mood, and improve your sleep and resilience to stress.

“Cooking at home does not have to be complicated. The cornerstone of a healthy diet is to eat food that is as close as possible to the way nature made it. That means replacing processed food with real food whenever possible and eating plenty of vegetables and healthy sources of protein. It does not mean you have to spend hours in the kitchen combining hundreds of different ingredients or slavishly following elaborate recipes. In fact, simple meals are often the tastiest,” she said.

In addition, Dr Chybar Virgo recommends that persons should get regular check-ups that can help find potential health issues before they become a problem. When you see your doctor regularly, they are able to detect health conditions or diseases early.

“Early detection gives you the best chance for getting the right treatment quickly, avoiding any complications. By getting the correct health services, screenings, and treatment, you are taking important steps toward living a longer, healthier life,” she said.

A healthy lifestyle is important for everyone. Healthy living means maintaining a healthy lifestyle and introducing habits that improve your health. It can be difficult to change old habits, but there are steps you can take to become healthier. An important step is identifying less healthy habits and learning new, positive ones to replace them.

keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com