Health Food On A Budget

A Wise Consumer Consumes Wisely. The modern restaurant experience is a product of the Industrial and French Revolution. It credits its origins to France, where the word restaurant is derived from the French word restaurer, which means, “to restore.” These institutions were strictly supervised and meant to provide sustenance to hungry patrons. As you can imagine, processed ingredients didn’t really exist in the food our ancestors ate so their bodies were still metabolizing the food they consumed efficiently, even when they “dined out.”

Today the restaurant landscape has changed. The introduction of ingredients like high fructose corn syrup in fast food restaurants in the late 1960’s began affecting our secretion of leptin, a hormone meant to alert the body when it has consumed enough. This lead to a gradual rise in over eating as high fructose corn syrup was introduced into foods like cereals, breads and juices, which people began consuming multiple times a day with help from shrewd marketing and the ease of convenience and leisure, which our society so gladly settled into. We essentially vandalized our internal STOP sign, which was meant to protect us from binging and over eating. Our bodies, which are wired to a delicate balance of nutritional frugality and moderation, were tricked into craving more sugar, or more accurately, the happy, high feeling that sugar activates in our bodies. Now, when dining out or grocery shopping, unless your lengthy interrogation of the untrained waiter yields you satisfying results, or you’re a chemist and understand the ingredients but know their side-effects, odds are you will be on the road to over eating and over paying.

So, what to do in the age of restaurants on every block, Seamless, and take out? Feeding your body wisely and cheaply is hard in the face of all the processed and not so in-expensive food you encounter. True, the box of Count Chocula is cheaper than that bag of avocadoes, but if you’re wise enough you’ll know which of these holds greater value for your dollar and your butt. It’s not difficult to eat well, maintain a healthy body weight, and be satisfied by what you consume. You just have to know where to look, and although this advice has also probably been given to Big Foot enthusiasts, understanding the elements of the food you buy and their effects on your body are crucial to making the wisest food and value picks.

A great place to start is by reducing or fully eliminating the processed foods in your pantry. Get rid of those white sugars, white and ‘wheat flours,’ crackers, chips, cereals, orange colored sugar juice, and stick to protein strong breakfasts like oatmeal to start your day, as it packs a mean punch of water-soluble fiber and vitamin B. High protein breakfasts are essential for starting your day off right, not sugary cereals, toasts, and fruit juices. They’re in essence just sugar-carb crack for your brain, whose high lasts a short and unsatisfying burst before reducing your body to a jittery, ADD mess. Resist that romantic date-night-out, girl’s night out, dude’s bro night out, if you can cook a meal at home. You’ll enjoy more of each other’s company, know what’s in your food and you won’t have to leave a tip, or walk it off to the bar afterwards. Cooking at home and reducing your dine outs to 1-2 times a week can save you between $15-$25 a week, leaving you with extra cash to buy that bag of avocadoes. Check out Whole Foods 365 brand selections. It tends to be a lot less expensive than other brands there, and many healthier ingredients can be found there for less. Always check out sales and coupon books to rack up the savings. Farmer’s markets, although they appear to be pricier than grocery stores sell fresh and local produce, which is far more beneficial to your body than frozen fruits and veggies or produce that has to be shipped nationally and internationally.

The trick to eating healthily and cheaply is to be a wise consumer. Educate yourself before heading out for an afternoon at the grocery store or farmer’s market. Avoid shopping on an empty stomach. The hungrier you are, the lower your inhibitions and the stronger your devil inside you urging you to buy those pre-packaged croissants. After all, how cool and bad-ass do the French look eating them for breakfast? You can look that cool too! Avoid this inner struggle by eating a solid, protein-based breakfast (and yes, oatmeal is full of protein). It’s the most important meal of the day for a reason. It keeps you full throughout the day and mitigates hunger pangs. As always, educating yourself from reliable sources is your greatest weapon in this fat, nutritiously starved society we live in.

Written by Maria Schumann for bodono.

Maria Schumann is a writer living in NYC.
About Maria Schumann: “I love writing poetry, breaking a sweat at bikram yoga, and reading serial killer books while cooking. I love watching documentaries and I am always game for a crazy night of poker. Understanding the importance of a healthy relationship with my body and mind inspires me to help others come to a symbiotic relationship with their bodies and minds as well. Through writing I am able to reach people with my words and hopefully inspire positivity and change.”