Tuesday, October 12, 2010

But It's Too EXPENSIVE to Eat Fruits & Veggies!

Okay, this is one of the top excuses I get from patients when we start talking about improving their diet, and getting them to focus on MORE fruits and vegetables. (Keep in mind, our goal is 5-10 servings per day, and a serving is what you can hold in your hand.) So back to the discussion- is the perimeter of the grocery store really more expensive than the boxed, processed junk in the middle?

Of course, if you look at the BIG picture, it's easy to see that no matter what, you are better off buying the fruits and vegetables. Diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol medicines cost a small fortune, even if you are "only" paying the co-payments. Part of the incentive to improve your health (and yes, lose weight in the process) is that MANY people can reduce or even eliminate these medications, which will save them a very significant amount of money!

In the short term, though, what is the cost? Obviously it depends on what you choose. My friend and excellent dietician, Daniela Knight, RD, recommends that her patients check out the weekly ads. "If bananas are on sale, load up on those and skip the $5 per carton blueberries that week." Lettuce, carrots, onions, apples, oranges and potatoes are typically inexpensive year-round. Frozen fruits and vegetables are packed with the same nutrients as fresh ones, yet often cost much less. Additionally, there is nothing wrong with canned vegetables or fruit, either, despite the incorrect notion that they are vastly inferior. Yes, watch for sodium in canned goods, but the nutrients are fine!

Daniela also reminds her patients that you can buy an entire BAG of potatoes for less than the cost of a bag of potato chips, which are up to $3-$4. Pre-washed, packaged vegetables like broccoli and green beans are simple to pop in the microwave, and now you've got quick AND reasonably priced veggies.

BOTTOM LINE: Fruits and vegetables are worth every penny for your health, and can save you money in BOTH the short and long term if you buy frozen, canned and seasonal fresh produce!

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