Healthy Foods Cost More Than Junk?

Is it possible to save money on food while cutting back on calories and making healthier choices?

Is it possible to save money on food while cutting back on calories and making healthier choices? 

I say absolutely! 

I am always concerned with the cost of food, services, and miscellaneous items. I am the keeper of the budget and our whole family works hard to keep our expenses down. With a family of 9, you can be sure that food is a large part of our monthly expenses. People often complain to me that it costs more money to buy healthy food than junk food. In some ways they are right, but there’s another side to that comment.

One of the first things you typically do when you are changing your eating habits is to get rid of the "bad" food in your pantry, and replace it with healthy alternatives. However, once you get to the grocery store you might be surprised when you realize that apples are $1.49 a pound and a little bag of baby carrots costs $1.99. Chicken breasts seem so expensive at $2.09 a pound. You can’t afford that – or can you?

Take a look at this quick comparison: (these are the average prices at my grocery store over the last 3 weeks)

  • Cost of 11 ounces of potato chips – $3.21
  • 14.5 ounce cookie package – $2.75
  • 16 oz. powdered sugar donuts – $2.19
  • 12 oz. box cinnamon cereal – $3.39
  • 48 oz Canola oil – $3.99
  • 12 pack can Coke – $3.33
  • 1 package chocolate chip cookie dough – $2.99
  • 1 pound sirloin steak – $4.99

When you see that list I ask you – now what's expensive? Pre-packaged food that has very little nutritional value, or wholesome fruits and vegetables? Expensive steaks, or chicken breast on sale? 

I often wondered why it was that when I was overweight, I thought nothing of spending $2 – 3 dollars on a bag of chips, but balked at spending the same amount of money on a bag of apples? Why was it okay to buy the $2.50 1 pound bag of chocolate candy pieces that I would eat in one afternoon, but refused to spend the same amount of money on fresh veggies that would last much longer?

For me, I didn't value the fruits and vegetables as much as I did the junk. The junk was fast, available and made me feel good when I ate it. The fruit was fruit. Salad was salad. I thought it had no pizzazz and I gained no emotional comfort from eating healthy food. I wanted junk and junk I got. As I gained more and more weight over the years, I ate less and less healthy foods. I was careful with the kids’ diets – they ate good foods, but I didn't. I made up the excuse that I couldn't afford to buy enough apples and grapes for all of us, so I'd just eat cookies.

I used money to justify my bad choices, when in reality I was spending much more than I needed to buy purchasing foods that weren't healthy. I would ask if you are doing the same thing when purchase junky foods. I challenge you that next time you are at the grocery store to do a little comparing of your own. I think you may be surprised. 

Q: I end up overeating because it makes me feel better and I never really get full. I'd like to lose weight but this makes it hard. Any suggestions?

A: Being persistently hungry can cause big trouble. So can overeating for comfort/pleasure. These two behaviors, say researchers from Baylor University's Children's Nutrition Research Center, are controlled deep within your brain by serotonin-producing neurons, but operate separately from each other — one in the hypothalamus, the other in the midbrain. They both can, however, end up fueling poor nutritional choices and obesity.

Eating for Hunger

When hunger is your motive for eating, the question is: "Does your body know when you've had enough?" Well, if you are overweight, obese or have diabetes you may develop leptin resistance and your "I am full" hormone, leptin, can't do its job. The hormone's signal to your hypothalamus is dampened, and you keep eating.

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