Better Food on a Budget

Gretchen Becker Health Guide
  • A recent blogpost said that people with diabetes need to eat organic food.


    I agree that it’s healthier both for us and for the environment to eat organic food. But organic food is more expensive than conventional food, so what is a person with a limited income to do?


    Here’s one suggestion. Buy the more expensive food, be it organic instead of conventional or some kind of expensive fish instead of fatty hamburger. Then eat less of it.


    When food tastes really good, it usually takes less of it to satisfy us. Think of the portion sizes at some upscale restaurants compared to those at Joe’s Hash House. The people at the upscale restaurant aren’t starving with their smaller portions. But the people at Joe’s Hash House with the all-supersize portions are often overweight.

    Add This Infographic to Your Website or Blog With This Code:


    So if you eat expensive food, but less of it, instead of a lot of cheap food, you’re not only spending about the same amount of money, but you’re helping yourself to lose weight or maintain your weight if you’re already at your goal.


    Of course if you chose only lobster and caviar, it would be difficult to match the cost of dogs and burgers, even if you didn’t eat a lot of the lobster and caviar. But with reasonable substitutions, say a small portion of a great steak instead of a huge hamburger, you should be able to eat really tasty food for about the same cost as the cheaper stuff.


    I’m lucky because I live in a rural area where I can have a garden, and right now, even though I’m a terrible gardener and the snails seem to be eating most of my lettuce and cucumbers, I am getting broccoli, which can’t be compared to what you buy at the grocery store, and all the raspberries I can eat. A little of that broccoli satisfies me as much as a huge serving of the cardboard-like stuff I get at the grocery store in the winter.


    Now, ideally, we’d be able to calculate how much of the better food we could eat for the same cost. If a quart of conventional strawberries costs $5 and a quart of organic costs $8, then in theory we could eat five-eighths as much of the organic berries and pay no more. But who has time to do calculations like that?


    Instead, what works for me is just to keep track of my overall food expenditures, buy better food and try to eat less of it, and then see what my total cost is at the end of a month or a year.


    If someone in your household has a gargantuan appetite and won’t eat anything unless it’s wrapped in pie dough, then this approach would be more difficult.


    Otherwise buying better food is worth a try.


    I know how difficult it is at first to eat less if you have a big appetite. I always did. Once when I was a teenager, a waiter at a Chinese restaurant said he’d never seen someone so small eat so much. When I started out, on a modified ADA diet, I was allowed only 2 oz of meat, and I felt very deprived.


    When I gradually segued into a low-carb, ketogenic diet, I ate a little more meat with my meals, but not a lot. I’m now quite satisfied with 3 oz, and if I get only 2 oz I don’t feel deprived. The same applies to the other parts of my meals, low-carb vegetables and salad with kefir for dessert, often with berries added.


    Add This Infographic to Your Website or Blog With This Code:

    And one advantage of a low-carb diet is that it seems to curb the appetite.


    Learning new habits is always difficult, but when eating less becomes a habit, it’s not hard to do, especially when the food tastes so good.


    Buy good food, savor it, and improve your health at the same time. You deserve the best.

Published On: July 17, 2014