Diets in Review - Find the Right Diet for You

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Side-by-Side Comparison of Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Fresh Market

Habit, convenience, and proximity are major factors in shaping where we purchase food and which foods we purchase. The decision to eat a healthier diet can be much easier than deciding which foods to purchase and from where to purchase them. While healthier options are becoming more widely available, where you live may determine what is or is not available. In Indianapolis, the 12th largest city in the United States, we have at least one farmers market year round, as well as Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Fresh Market. Proximity plays a major role in where I shop most frequently, but perhaps that is not the most important factor.

Farmers markets may give you the best opportunity for the freshest produce and to speak with farmers about the conditions in which animals and produce are raised, but they are often not available throughout the week and selection of goods can vary. Whether we like it or not, we all visit a grocery at least occasionally, and the majority of Americans buy the majority of their food at a box store. Your farmers market may not offer fresh-made pasta or gluten-free baked goods like mine does, but your Whole Foods is probably a lot like my Whole Foods.
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Healthy Diets are Less Expensive than Unhealthy Ones, Study Says

For those who think Twinkles and Pop Tarts are the cheaper way to go when it comes to a budget-friendly diet, think again. A new study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that eating a diet consisting of healthier foods doesn’t necessarily cost more than one made up of mostly unhealthy foods.

Reason for the study was motivated in part by the perception that diets that align with the USDA dietary guidelines are not affordable; and that eating a diet higher in fat, sugar and processed foods is less expensive.

The study was led by a group of economists at the USDA, one of which was Andrea Carlson who helped analyze the cost of more than 4,400 foods. In their research, she and her colleagues considered each item by price per calories, price by edible gram, and price per average portion.
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5 Places People Waste the Most Money on Their Health

David Bakke writes about tips for improving health and saving money on Money Crashers Personal Finance.

In 2009, Americans spent almost $2.5 trillion on health care, and that number is expected to almost double by the year 2019. As these costs escalate, it’s obvious that a healthy lifestyle can save you money. But the question is, how much money should you spend to live healthy? Fortunately, there are many ways to cut back on health expenses without cutting back on health benefits.

1. Gym Membership

Unless your monthly gym bill serves as your only motivation to exercise, a gym membership is usually not worth the expense. You can walk or jog in your neighborhood, bike at a local park, and swim in public pools. You can also pick up a cheap set of dumbbells for strength building. In fact, skipping the gym can easily save $500 annually.

2. Organic Food

Organic foods cost roughly 30% more than their traditional counterparts. So if you’re spending the money on organic, make sure it’s worth it and research which are safe to buy conventionally grown instead. For example, some conventionally grown fruits don’t contain as many pesticide residues as others. Whereas conventionally grown apples repeatedly test as some of the “dirtiest” fruits on the market. Avocados, onions, cantaloupes, asparagus, and eggplants should be safe to buy non-organic.
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Healthy Across America on a Budget: The Nutritious America Road Trip

By Abra Pappa for NutritiousAmerica.com

3000 miles, 8 days, and 500 bucks to get across the country. Could you do it?

Last week my business partner (and best friend), Karen, and I embarked on an adventure across the country to see if it was possible to eat healthy in as many states as we could for as little money as possible.

For nearly a decade Karen and I have been counseling clients on the benefits of a natural, organic, whole food diet. Our company, Nutritious America, works to inspire people around the country to lose weight and clear up various health problems by changing how and what they eat.

In our work we tend to hear a lot of the same “issues” from clients about their struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Topping the list is, “It’s too expensive” and, “Healthy food is not convenient or readily available.” It was time Karen and I put these “issues” to the test.

We have both lived in large urban environments for over 15 years, where healthy food is readily available. I have a farmers market literally 3 blocks from my apartment, not to mention multiple juice bars, organic restaurants, and a Whole Foods Market all within walking distance. Is healthy food expensive? It depends on how you look at it. I spend money on food. I spend money on healthy food. I live by the philosophy, “pay the farmer today or the doctor tomorrow.” I choose to spend my money on food rather than expensive clothes, shoes, or bags. It’s a choice I make. However, I have always firmly believed that healthy food should be affordable for all people in this country. Is it possible to eat healthy and not break the bank? Is healthy food readily available in small towns across the country?

We wanted to find out. This was clearly just a small sampling. In 8 days we stopped in 8 different cities and had less than $30 per day per person for food.
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Challenge: Buy 30 Days of Groceries at Whole Foods on a Poverty-Level Budget

Have you ever pictured yourself doing a happy dance in the grocery store because you could afford oranges? No? Me neither, but that’s what happened during my 30-day challenge to feed my family of three at or near the poverty level. There were also moments of frustration and a few tears shed. Here’s how it all started …

I was roaming around a section of the USDA website where they keep track of over 8,000 families and what they spend every month for groceries. This helps them set four different budget levels: Thrifty (near the poverty level), Low, Medium, and Liberal.  Amounts are broken down by gender and age; kids and the elderly account for less money than 20-something guys, for instance. 

If you think this is a futile exercise and a waste of taxpayer money, you’d be wrong. If you’re going through a divorce, it’s likely that the courts will assess child support at the “Low” level, no matter your income. The food that our servicemen and women are served is budgeted at the Liberal level. So this monthly assessment by the government has a bigger effect than you might realize.

When I looked at the numbers, I realized my family was living at the “Low” level, but that wasn’t taking into account how often we eat out (two to three meals per week between lunches and dinner). The amount we spend does reflect us eating a lot of organic foods. Plus, we can sometimes be too wasteful; I cringe some weeks at what we throw away. It’s not just a waste of money, but a waste of resources for the planet.

Could our family live at the Thrifty level? What would it take? And what if I tried doing this while only shopping at Whole Foods, aka “Whole Paycheck”? And then what if I also threw a dinner party for eight as the very last meal?

I contacted Whole Foods and suggested a bet. If I could feed my family of three for 30 days exclusively from items purchased at Whole Foods for $491.10 they would reimburse me for my food. If I didn’t make it, they’d owe me nothing. The budget worked out to $16.31 cents per day total for all three of us. In case you’re wondering, here’s what we bought for the month.

Whole Foods said yes, my family was gung ho, and we were off on January 1st, shopping for over 90 minutes, trying to figure out what we could afford.   
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