I am the daughter of a medical biochemist, a registered dietician, and registered diabetes educator — all three wrapped up in one. Because of my mother I have never been hard up for a healthy meal. By the time I was in fifth grade, I understood the importance of balancing carb and protein intake, and I knew how many servings of vegetables and fruits I should eat every day.
I came to realize that my childhood was a rare case.
I assumed that every family understood how to eat healthy. I eventually learned otherwise as I began to spend time at my friends’ houses. Instead of cooking meals, parents were ordering take-out, grabbing fast food, or throwing Totino’s rolls in the oven.
A lot of people are misinformed about what foods are healthy, what meals are acceptable, and how easy it is to put together a tasty, healthy home-cooked meal.
National Healthy Eating Day (Nov. 5) was a great reminder that healthy eating is possible if we invest a small amount of time into our meals.
Here are some tips on how to eat healthy, at a low cost.
- Balance your carbohydrates and protein intake. “How do I do that?” you ask. It’s easy. Take the number of grams of carbohydrates you’re going to consume and divide it by two. What you get is how many grams of protein you will need to consume. Example: you have a bagel that has 45 grams of carbohydrates. That means you need to consume at least 22 grams of protein (three eggs or a Greek yogurt would suffice. Eggs are a valuable, inexpensive source of protein).
- Avoid high amounts of saturated fat and replace with necessary fats. Avocados, tree nuts and black olives are all great sources of healthy fats.
- Carbohydrates are vital for our energy; it’s not always a good idea to cut them out completely. Need to go gluten-free? Eat a red potato without butter, or eat some beans. (Beans are an inexpensive, healthy carbohydrate.)
- Make sure you’re getting your daily dose of fruits and veggies! Salad and apples aren’t always enough. Different fruits and veggies help different aspects of your life. Try mixing it up with some inexpensive fruits and veggies, such as carrots, red bell peppers, beets and broccoli! (Frozen broccoli is perfect! Don’t worry about buying it fresh.) Clementines, bananas and grapes are tasty, inexpensive fruits that come in bulk.
- Prep may take a little time but pre-prepped food (chicken, veggies, and fruit) tends to be more expensive! Chop your own fruit, veggies, and skin your own chicken. It will save you money in the long run.
- Cut back on eating out. Often you can make more food at a lesser price than what you could get at a restaurant.
These tips provided by mother are what have allowed me, a young adult on a budget, to lead a fairly healthy life.
It’s not easy to change eating habits, so be kind with yourself. Starting slowly is better than not changing at all. Pick one or two of these tips to follow and work on making them a habit before tackling the rest. Best of luck!