Economy Affecting Waistlines Along with Wallets
Unhealthy food choices are more common because of the recession.
Everyone is feeling the effects of the economic recession. For many, value trumps health-conscious when it comes to food choices. It’s sad, but true, that processed, frozen or “fast food” is less expensive than the healthier alternatives. Whether you’re feeding yourself or an entire family, those frozen tv-dinners or the “value menu” at the burger joint can be pretty attractive, financially.
One of the consequences of this unfortunate situation, however, is that Americans are just getting fatter, and our risk for obesity related illnesses such as diabetes is rising.
From the Wall Street Journal:
“Approximately 20% of all meals prepared in our homes from 1990 to 2007 involved the use of a microwave,” says Mr. Balzer. But in 2008, microwave usage rose to 30%. NPD Group, which has been following the microwaving habits of American consumers for nearly two decades, attributes that gain to the troubled economy.
Not surprising, then, are the rising rates of obesity and diabetes. The obesity rate climbed more than one percentage point to 26.4% in September from a year earlier, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, a measure of U.S. health compiled by the Gallup research firm and wellness-program provider Healthways. (Full story)
In spite of the current economic situation, there are healthy choices you can make. Again from the WSJ.
Think ahead. Planning out your meals and snacks in advance forces you to think more about the types of foods you are eating.
Make a shopping list. Studies show that people who make shopping lists — and stick to them — are less likely to make impulsive purchases of things like candy, chips or a box of donuts.
Buy in bulk. Buying 32 ounces of yogurt can cost less than buying four eight-ounce containers. In some cases, the savings of buying in bulk versus the premium-preportioned packages can run upward of 50%, according to grocery-store price surveys.
Make it yourself. You can find a multitude of 10-minute recipes online that use healthy and affordable ingredients. And you can be both time- and budget-conscious by making a few larger meals early in the week and freezing smaller portions for later use.
Pack a lunch. Take leftovers for lunch and bring your own snacks to work. This will save you money and keep you from binging on vending-machine fare when hunger strikes.
Cut down on sugary drinks. Water is cheaper — and better for you. If you still crave some flavor, squeeze the juice of a lime or lemon into the water.
There is always an “easier way” when it comes to selecting nutritious food. The “grab-and-go” meal at the drive through, the bag of potato chips to “tide you over”, these are reasonable choices if immediate value is the main concern.
However beneficial these savings are in the short-term, though, there are long-term physical and economic implications. As a nation we’re becoming less and less healthy, and the long-term financial impact will be felt individually and as a society long past the end of this recession. Something to think about…
Thanks for reading,
Andre Berger, M.D.
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