New Year’s Newsletter- Health on a Budget

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Written by: Dr. Seth L. Enos

With New Year’s come new year resolutions. Some are common: improve health, lose weight, and quit smoking. Others like hitting up Starbucks five times a week or less, giving up skinny jeans, and letting go of your WoW account, aren’t quite so universal, but may be no less challenging. Many people try to improve their health, and particularly their diet. There are many barriers to this with time and money being in the forefront. So the question is how do you eat better without breaking the bank and crashing all hopes of getting tickets to Sasquatch in The Gorge?

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  • Healthy eating on a budget
    • Commit to cooking – crafting your own meals is the healthiest and cheapest way to eat. Succeeding at this requires planning ahead and finding windows in the schedule to shop, cook, and meal plan.
      • Cook meals on weekends and freeze or refrigerate them for later use during the week.
      • Don’t reinvent the wheel, find simple, whole-food recipes and recipe books that appeal to your palate. I prefer Thug Kitchen, Thug Kitchen: 101 (for quick and easy meals), and Nourishing Traditions. Most of these books are between $10-$20 but if cost is an issue the old fashioned Google search works well too.
      • Crock pot cooking is often overlooked as an option but for those on the standard 9-5 it offers a great option to come home to a hot and ready meal. I find these meals are best prepared the night before, kept in the fridge, and then popped in the crock pot right before heading out the door for the morning commute. Recipe books for this kind of cooking are endless, cheap, and when done well use whole foods with minimal additives.
      • Spice it up! If you’re like me and not thrilled about eating the same thing for lunch you had last night then try adding in some spices. They can be a touch pricey on the front end but will last for a long time and can make the sometimes onerous task of having leftovers for lunch the next day more interesting with a new flavor. To find cheaper spices the “world foods” or “Hispanic foods” section of grocery stores often have a spice rack devoted to that culinary heritage and the prices are almost always dollars cheaper than what comes in the compact bottles in the spice aisle.
  • homecooking
    • Eat fresh or frozen – not that you need to avoid everything in boxes or cans like the plague but make it the exception rather than the rule. Boxed and canned foods often require lots of preservatives of one kind or another to prolong their shelf life and make them viable for human consumption. Fresh foods are almost always best but frozen provides a good option of a storable food when fresh foods will go bad before use. Frozen foods are often low in sodium and other preservatives while still retaining many of the nutrients in fresh foods.
    • Shop the sales – I’m not saying get out the scissors to clip the weekly grocery store fliers unless that’s your thing. Most grocers have electronic apps to watch the sales for you, keep an eye out for what is on sale and buy in bulk when it makes financial sense. Freeze your excess bulk items that you won’t consume in the next three or four days. Electronic apps these days make shopping sales much cheaper and easier than before. Mine is programmed to look for sales of certain foods (mostly whole foods in produce and meat department) and alert me when they are offered on the cheap.
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    • Enjoy it – cooking and eating should be a pleasant and fun process. If something is fun people actually do it. Cultivating a curiosity for new tastes, eating with others, and being open to new possibilities all help in this regard.
    • Eat with others when possible – cooking and eating with others can build and cement relationships that continue for a lifetime. Gathering for meals reaches us on a primal level and were often the foundations for community. Continuing this practice today allows us stronger bonds with others that can help bolster us through challenges ahead. Accountability to others for cooking can be helpful in keeping you on track for your New Year’s goals as well. If it helps, envision the practice as a way to care for yourself and others on the most basic level.
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    • Have an escape plan! – cooking fatigue is real, just be ready for when it hits. Have a ready-to-eat back up plan of some kind. This mitigates blowing your budget, overeating, eating out, and otherwise falling off of your goal for the New Year.
    • Observe the change – with new habits come change, be open and observe the changes that happen in your life through this simple practice.
  • If you need more tips or ideas on dietary change and facing the challenges of committing to a new habit or routine then stop on by and have a chat with one of our professional naturopathic physicians. We’re always available to help you get on the path to better health!
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