Your stomach is grumbling, but you have only $5 in your pocket and you’re imagining a mouth-watering meal. Unfortunately for your health, that $5 will probably send you straight to the nearest fast food joint.
In today’s health-driven, diet-obsessed world one would assume that anyone could eat healthy if they wanted, but some claim that isn’t necessarily the case. Stephanie Hershkowitz, a 20-year-old junior at the University of Florida, deals with the pressures of eating healthy every day.
“I’m on a strict budget at school, so I can’t always afford to buy the most healthy foods all the time, and in a pinch, sometimes I find myself eating junk food because it’s cheaper and more convenient,” Hershkowitz said.
Hershkowitz’s situation is all too familiar for most college kids who face the same obstacles of eating healthy on a budget. Strolling down the grocery store aisles may seem frustrating when scrumptious pastries (think Hostess snack food cakes) are much cheaper than fresh fruit and vegetables.
But eating healthy doesn’t necessarily mean going into debt. When comparing food prices in Publix to those in a health food store, you’ll find a considerable difference, such as:
- A loaf of white bread from the Sunflower Health Foods store/ Gainesville / $5.69
A loaf of Sara Lee white bread from Publix / $1.79.
- Keto’s Carb Counters Old Fashioned Oatmeal / $6.99
Publix¹s Old Fashioned Oatmeal / 99 cents.
Even “healthy” junk food is more expensive. Atkins chocolate chip cookie mix has a price tag of $5.45, and at Publix, the ready to bake chocolate chip cookies cost only $2.29.
Kara Bernstein, a nutritionist from Miami and former UF student, thinks that anyone with a little effort can afford to eat healthier just by comparing something as common as cereal. For example Cascadian Farm¹s Organic Raisin Bran /$4.99 and Kellogg¹s Raisin Bran/ $3.19, are both healthy choices, but one has less impact on your wallet.
“There are certain ingredients in foods that make them cheap to produce, and lower-priced ingredients can easily be used to make mass quantities, like fast food,” Bernstein said. “With health foods, everything is all natural, so they tend to be more expensive.”
To help cut costs Bernstein suggests buying fewer convenience items like pre-made foods; instead purchase the raw goods and make the food yourself.
But even that may not always solve the problem.
“I try to cook as often as I can, but sometimes it just gets too costly and I end up going out,” Hershkowitz said. “But then that backfires too, because I always end up spending a lot of money eating out.”
It seems like a Catch-22, but eating healthy is too important to be ignored. Making wise food choices is a vital step toward keeping healthy and boosting your body¹s immune system. Some foods are loaded with nutrients that can actually help prevent disease.
Matthew Fisher, 21, a junior at UF, also recognizes the obstacles to eating healthy, but tries to eat right.
“I think if a person really wants to eat healthy, they can find a way to get it into their lifestyle,” Fisher said. “The physical and psychological benefits of eating healthy are well worth it.”
People will need to make concessions in order to live a healthy lifestyle, and they aren’t always easy.
“If it’s between having an extra $10 on the weekend for beer or having that money to buy a piece of free-range chicken instead of going to McDonalds for a 29-cent cheeseburger, there should be no contest,” Fisher said.
Just one small choice at a time can make a healthy difference so don¹t get discouraged. And if you¹re gravitating toward the cheap-chocolaty Twinkies, just keep walking!
Eating healthy can be cheap and easy, for tips, check out: