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The True Cost Of A Healthy Diet

Sure, it may seem cheaper to eat a burger, fries and soda from McDonalds than to prepare a meal full of healthy foods. But, have you ever stopped to think: what’s the real cost of eating junk food – the cost to our health and on the economy?   

New research from the Harvard School of Public Health showed that people following a healthy diet pay $1.50 more per day for food, or about $550 more per year. But does this actually mean it’s more expensive to follow a healthy diet instead of eating unhealthy foods? Not at all. While healthier diets do cost more, the price difference is very small in comparison to the economic costs of diet-related chronic diseases.

We all know bad foods are bad for our health, but as it turns out they’re actually bad for our wallets as well.  Research shows that chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, occur from eating unhealthy foods, which can not only cause harm to our health, but can be costly to treat. One expert estimated that obesity-related diseases and health problems account for 61% of healthcare costs in the U.S. every year, exceeding $147 billion dollar per year!

Research proves the costs of eating unhealthy foods are often delayed. And that’s the key point: When you go to McDonald’s for a cheap meal, you may immediately compare the low price of a burger and fries to the higher price of healthy foods, which are more expensive in the short term. However, the total cost of unhealthy eating isn’t reflected in how much you pay for your meal in the immediate moment, it’s the cumulative cost of what those decisions will lead to over a lifetime. For example, choosing unhealthy foods not only increases the costs of medical bills, but also reduces your ability to live a longer healthy, enjoyable life.

So remember, a healthy diet is not just good for your body, it’s good for your wallet too! Here are a few tips to help you start eating healthy for less:

  • Look for lower-cost healthy food options that are available year round. Try beans for a less expensive protein, carrots or greens for a cheaper vegetable, and bananas for a low-cost fruit.
  • Compare the price and the number of servings from fresh, canned, and frozen forms of the same fruit or veggie. Canned and frozen items may be less expensive than fresh. For canned items, choose fruit canned in 100% fruit juice and vegetables with “low sodium” or “no salt added” on the label.
  • Buy vegetables and fruits in their simplest form. Pre-cut, pre-washed, ready-to-eat, and processed foods are convenient, but often cost much more than when purchased in their basic forms.
  • Start a garden for fresh, inexpensive and flavorful additions to meals.




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