Eating healthier is a popular New Year’s resolution, but are healthy options too expensive?
Cost is always on the mind of the savvy shopper, and yes, healthy food does technically cost more than unhealthier processed foods. But, with the long and short-term benefits of being physically healthy, that cost is far outweighed. Learn the real truths behind eating healthy on a budget and make simple adjustments that will save you extra money.
The Real Cost Of Healthy Foods
Consumers tend to think that healthy food costs more than unhealthy options, but how true is this belief? As a 2013 Harvard study in the British Medical Journal demonstrated, yes, healthier foods do tend to cost more than sugary, processed versions – but only barely. Some of the average variations between cost include:
- Healthier meats and proteins cost an average of $0.29 more per serving than unhealthier options
- Healthy snacks and sweets only cost an average of $0.12 than less healthy counterparts
- Healthier grain options are only $0.03 more expensive
- Choosing healthier oils and fats will only end up with a $0.02 average increase
For other essential elements of your diet, such as dairy products, there was no statistically significant difference between healthy and unhealthy choices. Another important element of the study found that beverages such as juice and soda were found to have little-to-no price difference between healthy and unhealthy options.
So is healthy food really more expensive than less healthy options? Yes, but to such a small amount that the benefits of eating healthy will far outweigh the slight raise in cost. The study showed how switching to a healthy diet will cost an average of $1.50 more each day – an amount that can be more than made up with your savvy coupon-seeking and online deal hunting.
The Real Costs Of Unhealthy Foods
While the monetary value of healthy foods may be slightly higher, there is a long-term cost of eating unhealthy foods that could potentially end with you paying far more in healthcare costs. Just by eating too much sugar you could be at a greater risk for:
- Heart disease
- Dental problems and cavities
- Weight gain
- Problems sleeping
When you eat something sugary, you get a quick high and then a crash – and what happens next? You probably reach for another sweet something to pick you back up. Unhealthy foods, particularly those with excess sugar, will actually make you eat more than you typically do. That means you’re paying for that snack with both your health and your wallet.
Of course, eating highly processed and unhealthy foods will ultimately make it harder to keep excess weight off of your body, which can also lead to increased health issues – and cost. Not to mention, any significant weight gain means you need to purchase new clothes, so prevent the spiral effect by sticking with healthy options.
How To Eat Healthier On A Tight Budget
As you’ve seen, there is a negligible difference between purchasing healthy items instead of unhealthy items, and an unfortunate long-term cost of negative health and a shorter lifespan. It is well worth it – and possible – to start eating healthy on a tight budget today.
Be smarter with what you do when you are at the grocery store. Stay around the outside perimeter of the store as much as you can so that you are focused on items like fresh produce, fresh proteins, dairy, and whole grains. If you must venture down the aisles, have a reason for doing so. If you are purchasing cereal, find the right coupon beforehand to save on a better option than a processed, sugary one and go straight for that one. Don’t shop without a list or you’ll be more tempted to grab items that will raise your bill without providing you the nutrients you need.
Remember that it can take some time for your body to readjust to a healthier diet, but in the long run, you’ll save far more on costs, both for your body and your wallet. Keep an eye on coupons for restaurants and grocery stores by signing up for savings and deals today.