Thank you, Dr. Carolyn Smyth, Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, and owner of Warrior Within Wellness for this article on how to improve your health on a budget. Now more than ever, Americans are considering ways to stay fit and healthy! Enjoy this informative article - stay healthy!
It is estimated that 72 million Americans are in debt from accrued medical bills. At least half are in debt from preventable diseases or elective surgeries for weight loss. Like with financial planning, food decisions you make in the short term do impact your future health. Invest in your health now so that you can enjoy the future you are saving up for.
The average American spends over $250/month in pharmaceutical prescriptions and over the counter medication for preventable or lifestyle diseases like diabetes, high cholesterol, acid reflux or obesity. Most people on medication to treat lifestyle diseases report a reduction in symptoms but a dependence on medication.
Think about if people just spent that money on more nutritious food. It would lower symptoms of lifestyle diseases, decrease dependence on medication and increase quality of life.
The keys to changing health outcomes while on a budget are simple- eat real food instead of packaged or processed food and consume higher quality but less quantity of meat.
Processed and packaged foods like snack bars, cookies, frozen dinners, canned soups, etc. are often filled with preservatives to extend shelf life and sugars to increase caloric density. However, processed foods are more expensive per volume than buying individual ingredients to make a real meal or snack.
When buying produce, quality matters.
Buying real food instead of processed or packaged food will make room in your budget to buy quality produce. Any fruit or vegetable that grows in the ground or whose skin you eat- potatoes, apples, tomatoes, grapes, berries, etc. should be organic. The health impact of consuming pesticides will only increase your dependence on pharmaceuticals later on in life. The short-term investment is important.
Conventional meat is cheaper than organic meat because of the difference in cost of raising the animals.
Conventional meat farmers fill animals with exogenous hormones and cheap carbohydrate filled feed like corn, soy and often candy so animals grow bigger and produce a larger supply of sellable meat. When you eat conventional meat, you are consuming these exogenous hormones and corn, soy and candy. These trigger diseases like thyroid dysfunction, cancer and obesity.
Preventable disease research is showing that optimal nutrition is consuming a daily diet of 40-50% fat, 25-35% protein and 20-30% carbohydrates.
The human body is not designed to need animal protein at every meal or even every day. Reducing consumption of meat to 4-5 times per week will allow you to afford higher quality meat. Fish needs to be wild caught. Beef should be grass fed and grass finished. Poultry should be organic and cage free. Pork should be organic. Lunch meat is discouraged as it is more expensive by weight than turkey or chicken breast and it is filled with nitrates that negatively impact health.
The Bottom Line?
As we may be self-quarantining for the next few weeks, use the time to discover new recipes and engage in cooking with your family. To save money, buy cooking staples spices like sea salt and black pepper and cooking oils with high smoke points like ghee, avocado oil, and tea seed oil in bulk. By eating real food, you can quickly discover a reduction in preventable disease symptoms and a reduction in your pharmacy spending.
Dr. Carolyn Smyth, L. Ac, DACM, MS, MA
Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
Warrior Within Wellness