You could write on book on healthy eating. In fact, they have. Thousands, in fact. Healthcare and lifestyle is one of the fastest growing genres out there and really I think that it’s because we’re self-aware for the first time. We’re conscious of the things we eat, where they come from, and the choices we make and the effect that is having in our lives. We see those results displayed on the scale, in our waistline, our stamina, our energy levels, our moods, even our relationships. Our confidence has taken a huge hit with the ever-onslaught of negativity and unrealistic ideals.
But the truth is, you are enough. I am enough. We are amazing and wonderful in our own way, regardless of size or what the scale says. What matters is that we care about ourselves enough to not be satisfied with the way things are just because it’s the way things are. With some dedication, a little sacrifice, and a lot of encouragement (hello team of cheerleaders!), we can all get healthy, fit, and better. And better is good.
HEALTHY ON A BUDGET
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. In fact, you can eat healthy, even organic, while on a budget. Believe it or not, our monthly grocery budget is less than $300. Some months I’m really on top of my game and manage to get it under $200, and then we use the extra to throw at our debt or have a family fun splurge. (Who am I kidding? It always goes to family fun splurge)
How? No, I’m not one of those crazy coupon clippers. Mostly because Alaska’s newspapers don’t carry those wonderful, thick stack of coupons on Sundays… or any days. But, my favorite store, Fred Meyer’s, has their own store coupons + manufacturer’s coupons, too. And bonus points that they have them all in an app so no clipping required!
I’ve learned my local stores, who carries what for the best regular price, as well as their sale and markdown trends. For example, Fred Meyer marks down their produce, even organic, between 10am and 1pm, so going at 11am seems to be the perfect time. Eggs, including organic, are marked down every three weeks or so, milk less often, but the almond milk goes on sale monthly.
Meanwhile, across the street, Carrs has meat on sale at least every other day. Pork, chicken, beef, seafood, you name it. I can usually grab chicken for $1.25 or less a pound and stock up. Our two chest freezers are so full right now that I’m “forbidden” from buying any more meat. But it’s so difficult to be good when the prices are low!
Farmers markets are a great source of local, fresh produce and resources. Often held seasonly (though some run year-round) you can good deals on some pretty amazing produce all the while supporting the local economy and small farms.
One big key that is preached widely is: Don’t try to be perfect in your eating plan. Even if you manage to to stick to the plan 100%, you’ll likely end up frustrated and craving all those things you shouldn’t have, which leads to binging. And after binging, we’re left bloated, discouraged, and ready to give up completely.
Instead, follow the 80/20 rule. Be good 80% of the time- eat those salads, drink Shakeology, stay away from sugars and artificial flavors. The the other 20% of the time allows you the flexibility to partake in the church potluck with guilt, enjoy that date night with your spouse, or even that once-a-week iced coffee that you just can’t give up. Practicing moderation and smart portions (i.e. eat a single piece of dark chocolate, not an entire bag of M&M’s in one sitting) gives you a better chance to stay on track and have this be a healthy lifestyle, not just a fad diet.
Now, one thing that feels like it should be a cheat, but is totally okay, is the Shakeology shakes by BB. Seriously, they are that good. Like, “am I having a Wendy’s frosty for breakfast” kind of good.
Though, to be completely honest, I would have to admit that I haven’t always been a fan of Shakeology. Since they cut down on sugars and use natural and alternative sweeteners, it does have a different taste initially than real sugar. And man, I love real sugar. But guess what? Loads of sugar isn’t good for me or my goal of getting fit. Who knew? So my compromise is a tiny drizzle of honey to offset the taste and I’m good-to-go. See, the 80/20 rule at work.
And now to the price- what I originally balked at. At $120 a month ($20+ discount for coaches!!!), it seems really high at first, but when I broke it down, it was really doable. You see, these aren’t supposed to be in addition to all your meals, but in place of a meal. Thus, the meal replacement shake or “the healthiest meal of the day” as they call it. For me, I do the shakes for breakfast, so let’s break down my typical healthy breakfast:
Zucchini – $1.49/lb (0.5 lb) – 75 cents
Eggs – $1.99/dozen (used two) – 33 cents
Cheese – $2.50/8 cups (used 1/3 cup) – 10 cents
Turkey Bacon – $2.99/package (used 3 strips) – 39 cents
Mushrooms – $3.49/lb (used 3 mushrooms) – 50 cents
Onions – $0.99/lb (used 1/4 cup) – 12 cents
Spinach -$2.99/package (used 1 cup) – 37 cents
Whole Grain Toast – $2.50/loaf (used 1 slice) – 20 cents
Orange – $1.25/lb (used 1 orange) – 26 cents
So we’re already over three dollars and that doesn’t even add in the morning coffee. Not to mention, while healthy, there’s only a handful of the necessary daily nutrients covered in that breakfast. Our bodies need those nutrients in order to be healthy, to stay mentally focused, and to maintain the metabolism jump-started by exercise. Sure, we could make a green smoothie and pop a multivitamin, and that would definitely be better than the Country Boy breakfast at Cracker Barrel, but how nice it would be to get everyone at once, for the less than the cost of a Starbucks coffee and 1/2 the price of a smoothie at one of those fancy juice bars.
And with flavors like chocolate, vanilla, tropical strawberry, and the newly-released café latte, I love that I can get my nutrition and decadence together in one glass. Oh, and as a busy mom that 1/2 the time forgets to even eat breakfast, it’s nice to be able to whip something up in less than two minutes. Stick that blender in the dishwasher and head out the door, perpetually five minutes late to everywhere and everything.
Another great way to get healthy is smart swaps. Here are some of my favorites things to switch out for better and healthier options:
Pasta —————> Zucchini or Squash, cut in spirals, ribbons, or chunks
Rice —————-> Cauliflower, chopped and pulsed in food processor
Chinese Noodles ——> Zucchini, cut thinly
Tortillas/Wraps ——-> Lettuce cups
Tortilla Chips ——–> Romaine hearts (the inner most part)
Sour Cream ———-> Greek Yogurt
Half and Half ———> Almond Milk
Peanut Butter ———> PB2
Ground Beef ———-> Lentils (try it!)
Lasagna Noodles ——-> Zucchini, cut in thin, wide slices
Mashed Potatoes ——-> Mashed Cauliflower
Pasta —————-> Spaghetti Squash
Crackers ————-> Cucumber Slices
Dipping Ranch ——–> Hummus
Potato Chips ———-> Baked Kale
Munchy Snack ——–> Almonds
French Fries ———-> Baked Sweet Potato Fries
Ice Cream ————> Frozen Banana and Strawberry Sorbet
White Rice ———–> Brown Rice or Quinoa
Mayo —————> Mashed Avocado
Butter ————–> Coconut Oil
You could make every swap on this list and then some and you would officially be my new hero. Realistically, though, you’ll do maybe half the swaps. And you’d still be my hero! It’s not about the quantity or how perfect you are- it’s about making an effort and sticking to it. Try all the swaps out and see which ones work for you. Personally, I can’t give up my mayo and butter, but I’m totally cool with mashed cauliflower and zucchini noodles. We’re still taking control of our health and make decisions each snack and meal to be a healthier, better version of us. And that’s definitely hero material.