Eating Healthy Saves Money

I hear all the time that buying healthy food costs more money. The truth is, eating healthy, in the right amounts, costs less. It not only costs less in terms of dollars in the checkout line, it costs less in terms of dollars spent on your health care bill later.

While there is some disagreement about the USDA Food Guide Pyramid among certain circles, for the sake of argument, let’s use it as a guideline and assume it is healthy.  (Never mind that it says that 10 French fries equals a serving a veggies.) When is the last time you looked at the USDA Food Guide Pyramid?  And when you looked, did you also read what constitutes a serving?

According to the Pyramid 1/2 cup veggies is a serving, or 1 cup of raw leafy veggies is a serving. When you put that into perspective, it’s not hard to get your five recommended servings a day. If you’re not sure, go get a measuring cup right now and see what size it is. Most people over estimate how big a “cup” is.

As a rule of thumb, a serving size is about the size of the palm of your hand or a fist. So if you know that you should eat five servings of veggies, 4 servings of fruit, two servings of dairy, 2 servings of meat or beans, and six servings of whole grains each day, you can plan your menus accordingly and cut down on waste.

During my lifetime, serving sizes have gotten seriously out of control. All you need to do is go to a flea market that sells old dishes and see that the size of dishes 30 or 40 years ago are smaller than they are today. By some count our dishes are 20% larger today, which means our serving sizes are too.

USA Today reported on a clinical study done by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) that says that we underestimate our calorie intake by 25% every day and hamburger sizes have more than doubled. You know that cheap 99 cent hamburger you get at a fast food place? That is how big the average hamburger used to be, all the time!

So, keeping it all in perspective; eating healthy in correct serving sizes is not more expensive. It’s just harder. We have to plan our menus, measure our ingredients, pay attention to what is on our plate and eat mindfully. And when we do, we will be more healthy, our families will be more healthy, and in the end we’ll have more money in the bank. It’s a win/win proposition!

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