If you’re a growing adult like me chances are that you’ve noticed how differently your body reacts to your eating habits compared to say, 5 years ago. Back then, you could get away with eating heavy meals three times daily, plus that small chops pack Chioma shared in the office, the party jollof your sister in-law saved for you and the night time Akara that you just couldn’t resist on your way back from work. These days, your body protests more vehemently with incriminating constipation because it doesn’t burn those calories as quickly as it used to. Now you find that you’re in your late 20’s, 30’s or 40’s wondering how to remain the person who can climb a flight of stairs without panting like you just did a 100-metre sprint.
Growing old has been a dreaded life process for many because statistically, older adults are more susceptible to degenerative ailments but I’m certain everyone would like to be as fit and look as healthy as Kate Henshaw at 50 years old.
So, what we eat definitely has a role to play in how we manage our health; If you have been to the market to buy food in the past few months, you are one of many in shock at the increase in the cost of food stuff. The prices of major food items have incredulously risen by 100 – 400%, befuddling everyday Nigerians but more disturbingly, limiting the purchasing power of most citizens.
There has never been a better time in our history to make a compelling point for healthy eating on a budget. Yes, yes, the primary motivator for eating healthy should be living a full and happy life through conscious eating of whole foods but who doesn’t love a good bargain.
In my opinion, living healthy on a budget not only helps you save money from food purchases, you will save cost from hospital bills, and potential budget on dietary impediments also.
Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget
Plan your meals – One of the best ways to stay on the healthy track is consciously choosing your meals. Don’t let food just happen to you, planning what to eat and when to eat will ensure you don’t eat more than you should and helps you say no when you don’t need that meal.
In Nigeria, we’re very familiar with a home food timetable, if you didn’t grow up with one at home, you met it while in secondary school. It is a food menu itemized using the 7 days of the week and 3 meals per day including snacks. It helps you shop weekly or monthly according to what you need, keeping your bill within your budget. In your food timetable, include whole grains, tubers, vegetables, seasonal fruits and nuts that are very accessible and affordable in your area. You can always change your food menu depending on foods which are in season and most abundant.
Buy whole foods – Think of the items in your food menu according to four major food groups – carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and fruits and vegetables – look out for three or four food items to include in each category. For example, carbohydrates (rice, yam, potatoes, acha (quinoa)), protein (beans, eggs, soy beans, milk, egusi), fats (palm oil, groundnuts, walnuts, fish), vegetables (spinach, ugwu, waterleaf. Shopping whole foods is a way to guarantee that you have a balance of ingredients to make healthy meals. Avoid buying processed foods as they are usually more expensive and contain more sodium and sugar than whole foods.
Cook at home – Making your own meals at home will ensure that you certainly make only healthy meals for yourself, you have the benefit of choosing the best ingredients. In general, the cost of paying for one meal when you go to a restaurant can cover the cost of a home-made meal for 2 or more people, eating at home is way cheaper than eating out. Whole grains like oats or rice are cheaper per serving than most processed foods so home cooking can save you money while being healthy.
Don’t shy away from sales deals – Many business owners regularly offer sales and discounts to their customers. Enthusiastically participate in sales deals while meticulously cross-checking expiry dates, good bargains sometimes come with baggage. In addition, local markets which are usually located in satellite towns at the edge of the city have market days, one day of the week, when the cost of food items are cheaper because farmers supply food on that day.
The distance between you and the accomplishment of climbing stairs without distress is your choice to eat whole foods and plan your meals accordingly. It is not an easy option but practice will definitely make you perfect.