Why It Pays to Eat Healthy
For many Americans, eating “healthy” has become a priority, whether for weight loss, disease control or prevention, or just doing right by your body. But often the cost of choosing to buy organic, making healthier menu choices, or just taking the time to read labels and cook at home can feel like a big job, and take a financial toll. Yet eating healthy can be helpful in the long-term by reducing your healthcare costs.
As obesity-related illnesses add $147 billion to Americans’ annual healthcare tab, healthier people tend to pay less.1 A good diet can help reduce the need for frequent medical visits, lower pharmaceutical bills and help eliminate sick days away from work. A strong bill of health can curtail insurance premiums, too.
Furthermore, it doesn’t have to cost your whole paycheck. Here are five simple ways to develop a diet that trims your waistline and healthcare costs.
EAT AT HOME
Surprisingly, the cost of grocery items, as measured by the USDA Economic Research Service, has been declining recently.2 At the same time, restaurant bills have been increasing, largely due to higher labor costs. Additionally, when you cook at home, you’re in control of the amount of butter, oils and other weight-inducing ingredients in each dish.
DON’T SHOP WHILE HUNGRY
We’ve all been there, right? You stop by the grocery store at the end of a long day, and your cravings for all things sweet and salty take over. It’s understandable, but filling up a shopping cart under the influence of hunger adds unnecessary costs and calories. Instead, grab a yogurt or a piece of fruit before you dive into the aisles. It’s also good to stick to a grocery list while you shop.
GO TO THE FARMERS MARKET – AND NEGOTIATE
At the farmers market, behind the towering piles of beets and carrots, you’ll find a local farmer who grew everything on the table. Not only is eating produce in season great for your health, it’s kind to your wallet, too. The changing harvest reflects the simple principle of supply and demand. For example, when the tomatoes come in, they’re plentiful. As a result, prices are very reasonable due to the ample supply. Also, farmers are motivated to sell their produce; it’s perishable, after all. See if you can negotiate a deal that works well for you and the grower.
JOIN A CSA (COMMUNITY-SUPPORTED AGRICULTURE)
Another great option for your health, and for your local farmer, is to consider purchasing a share in a CSA. Here’s how it works: customers pay for months of farm-fresh food before the harvest season begins. (The pre-season price usually comes at a steep discount.) Then, as seasonal foods become available, the farmer delivers a weekly harvest box to CSA members. For farmers, selling CSA shares is a way to crowdsource funding for the year’s planting. For healthy eaters, buying a CSA share brings a bounty of amazing food to your home every week. And if it proves to be too much for your household to consume, many people share with friends and neighbors.
Drink water. All the time. And then drink some more. If you live in an area with good quality tap water, this can cost you zero and be one of the biggest factors in improving your health. Not to mention if you chug H20 instead of high-price, high-sugar alternatives, your weight will decrease while your bank balance increases!
Eating well is fundamental to healthy living. Just like in our financial life, it takes a plan, but it’s worth the effort. When we eat better, we look better and feel better. A good diet can improve our long-term financial outlook, too, as we go into the future with greater confidence.
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2020-109904 Exp. 10/2022