8 WAYS TO EAT HEALTHY ON THE CHEAP

JUST VISIT YOUR LOCAL HEALTH FOOD STORE, AND THE PROSPECT OF EATING HEALTHIER MAY SEEM WAY, WAY, WAY OUT OF YOUR BUDGET.

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And, at times, it can be. If you trade your favorite packaged foods for healthier versions, you could see your grocery budget go up by at least a 1/3 (it might even double). You can’t stop paying rent, mortgage or bills just so you can eat exotic foods found in the health food store (or I would not suggest you do)…so that dietary change you’re aching to do (and your body might be hurting for it too…) might seem utterly impossible. To start making dietary changes (healthy changes) on a minimal food budget, begin by slowly removing packaged and processed foods from your daily food regimen, and as your willpower and budget allow, incorporate more whole, fresh foods. Before you know it, your grocery cart will be filled to the brim with healthy, whole foods and you will see that the dietary change you were aching to do, has come true!

Yes, in a perfect world this may happen, but then you wake up from your dream and remember that money doesn’t grow on trees! For a majority of us, we have to live on a budget. Sometimes that budget grows and sometimes, well, it shrinks. Just remember not to continue shopping with the “growing budget” when you are on the “shrinking budget” and drain your bank account. So, when you’re not dreaming, and in the real world, how do you eat healthy while on a teeny weeny budget? Is it possible to buy enough groceries to feed two people for a week for less than $20? If you are conservative enough, then yes, it is, and if you do it for long enough where it becomes a skill when you do get that “dream” budget, you will (or hopefully) continue to shop as you did on the “shrinking budget.” So, what are the frugal ways to eat healthier?

1. Make a grocery list.

This simple task can really help reduce a lot of extraneous spending throughout the week. One missing ingredient or staple can mean a few more take-out lunches or dinners. So make it as easy as possible, and have a notepad on your fridge. As soon as you notice a staple is running low (less than a week left), add it to the list. Therefore, when it’s grocery-time, you don’t have to search through the fridge and cupboards to find what’s needed. You will more than likely only need to add some fresh produce and voila, your list is made.

2. Have important staples on hand.

Meal planning can be challenging. You may do great at planning out the first few days only to find yourself throwing something together by the end of the week, with what’s left in the fridge. And this can work, why? Because you already have certain staples on hand, such as:

  • Good oils: Extra virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil, and sesame oil
  • Frozen veggies: They fill in the gaps if you’re running low at the end of the week
  • Beans: Dried or canned
  • Canned tuna or canned wild salmon
  • Whole grains: Rice, oats, quinoa
  • Condiments: Mustard, soy sauce (low sodium), balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, miso
  • Nut butter’s and hummus (excellent protein options)

Many lovely dinners can be made from these ingredients. So if these are not common staples, you may consider adding them to your new healthy diet repertoire.

3. Buy Seasonally.

A $6 container of strawberries in January or $4/lb for apples in June is not budget friendly. Buying “in season” can really reduce your grocery bill and your body will love it. Buy berries and tomatoes in the summer and freeze for use all year long.

4. Buy Cheaper Cuts of Meat.

This will really stretch your budget, and it might also allow you to buy organic or free-range instead of conventionally grown meats. Buy bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs or legs instead of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Buy stewing beef instead of tenderloin and pull out your crockpot that’s collecting dust (or find one at a thrift shop). It will make that tougher cut absolutely delicious.

5. Enjoy More Vegetarian Meals.

This one step can save you SO much money, and it can be better for the planet! Beans and lentils are significantly cheaper sources of protein than meat. If you’re a heavy meat eater, try just 1 or 2 vegetarian lunches or dinners and watch your grocery bill go down!

6. Buy Whole Foods.

Instead of packaged or processed “healthy” foods. The most expensive meals at health food stores are the healthier versions of packaged foods (cereal, mac ‘n’ cheese, pizza, veggie burgers, etc.). Buy whole foods and try some new recipes. Use these packaged foods as an occasional treat.

7. Buy Grains and Beans in Bulk.

Bulk stores or bulk sections at your favorite health food store is a great place to save lots of money on your grocery bill. This is especially true for the more expensive grains like quinoa. Organic spices are also a great find in a bulk section; organic quality for the price of conventional.

8. Cook at Home.

If you’re currently eating out or even just buying coffee a few times per week, keep track of how much you’re spending. $10 here and $30 there can add up over a month, and this extra cash can really go far at the grocery store. Once you know how much you’re spending, you can budget for take-out or coffee treats you really want and put the rest into your grocery budget. If your favorite treat is wine (then we really need to get together for a glass!), enjoy a few glasses a week but ensure to spend any extra money on food quality first, then the booze. Your body undoubtedly prefers a good breakfast omelet over a hangover. And once you have high-quality foods and there is still some “bucks” left, then go ahead and buy that extra bottle!food-plate-morning-breakfast.jpg

If YOU have additional tips and tricks on how to stretch your grocery budget, please send me your ideas and share them in the comments! Happy food budgeting.

Adapted from: Lisa Kilgour, nutritionist

Nutrition Nugget

Make it easy! Keep a bowl of fruit on your kitchen table or countertop. It makes it easier to choose a healthy snack when it’s in plain sight!

WOD Nugget

Picayune: A small coin of little value, especially a 5-cent piece.

Inspirational Nugget 

Don't be a beggar of love, be a donor of love, beautiful people are not always good, but good people are always beautiful.

“This path entails uncovering three qualities of being human, three basic qualities that have always been with us but perhaps have gotten buried and been almost forgotten. These qualities are natural intelligence, natural warmth, and natural openness. If we are not obscuring our intelligence with anger, self-pity or craving, we know what will help and what will make things worse. Natural warmth is our shared capacity to love, to have empathy, to have a sense of humor. It is also our capacity to feel gratitude and appreciation and tenderness. The third quality of basic goodness is natural openness, the spaciousness of our skylike minds. We can connect with that openness at any time. For instance, right now, for three seconds, just stop reading and pause.”

-Pema ChÖdrÖn

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Bacon Bad For You, or Good? The Salty, Crunchy Truth

Many people have a love-hate relationship with bacon. They love the taste and crunchiness but are still worried that all that processed meat and fat may be harming them. There are many myths in the history of nutrition that haven’t stood the test of time, but is the idea that bacon causes harm one of them? 

 

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How is Bacon Made?

There are different types of bacon and the final product can vary between manufacturers. Bacon is most commonly made from pork, the meat from pigs, although you can also find “bacon” made from the meat of other animals like turkey. Bacon typically goes through a curing process, where the meat is soaked in a solution of salt, nitrates, spices and sometimes sugar. In some cases, the bacon is smoked afterward, and the curing is done to preserve the meat. The salt solution makes the meat an unfriendly environment for bacteria to live in and the nitrates also fight bacteria and help the bacon preserve its red color.

Bacon is a processed meat, but the amount of processing and the ingredients used vary between manufacturers.

Bacon is Loaded With Fats… But They’re “Good” Fats.

The fats in bacon are roughly 50% monounsaturated, 40% saturated, with 10% cholesterol. A large part of the monounsaturated fats is oleic acid, which is the same fatty acid that olive oil is praised for and generally considered “heart-healthy.” Saturated fat, in moderation, may not be as harmful as once thought and cholesterol in the diet does not affect cholesterol in the blood, so a bite or two of bacon may not be that harmful.

Depending on what the animal ate, about 10% are polyunsaturated fatty acids (mostly Omega-6). These are the “bad” fats in bacon because most people already eat too much of these fats. However, if you choose bacon from pastured pigs that ate a natural diet, then this won’t be much of an issue. But if your pigs are commercially fed, with plenty of soy and corn (like most pigs are), then the bacon may contain enough Omega-6 to cause problems, if not consumed in moderation.

Bacon is Fairly Nutritious.

Meat tends to be very nutritious and bacon is no exception. A typical 100g portion of cooked bacon contains:

  • 37 grams of high-quality animal protein.
  • Lots of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and B12.
  • 89% of the RDA for Selenium.
  • 53% of the RDA for Phosphorus.
  • Decent amounts of the minerals iron, magnesium, zinc, and potassium.

Bacon is also fairly high in sodium, which makes sense given how it is cured with sodium during processing. Some studies show that excess sodium can elevate blood pressure and raise the risk of heart disease, while other studies show that too little sodium leads to the opposite result (If you are currently on the “western” diet, then consuming too little sodium should not be an issue.). If you’re already avoiding the biggest sources of sodium in the diet (processed, packaged foods) then I don’t think you need to worry about the amount of sodium in bacon. For healthy people who don’t have high blood pressure, there is no evidence that eating a bit of sodium causes harm.

Nitrates, Nitrites, and Nitrosamines.

Now that we know saturated fat, cholesterol and normal amounts of sodium are usually nothing to worry about (in moderation), this leaves us with the nitrates, which our bodies are filled with. Previous studies linked nitrates with cancer; however, these studies have since been refuted. They are not just found in bacon but also in veggies, which are the largest dietary source of nitrates.

Our saliva also contains massive amounts of nitrates, and these compounds are natural parts of the human bodily processes. There is some concern that during high heat cooking, the nitrates can form compounds called nitrosamines, which are known carcinogens. However, vitamin C is now frequently added to the curing process, which effectively reduces the nitrosamine content. The harmful effects of nitrosamines are outweighed by potential benefits. But, dietary nitrates may also be converted to Nitric Oxide, which is associated with improved immune function and cardiovascular health.

Other Potentially Harmful Compounds.

When it comes to cooking meat, we need to find balance. Too much is bad, and too little can be worse. If we use too much heat and burn the meat, it will form harmful compounds like Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Heterocyclic Amines, which are associated with cancer. On the other hand, some meats may contain pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites. For this reason, meat needs to be cooked well enough to kill the bacteria, so cook your bacon properly. It should be crunchy, but not burnt.

What The Studies Say.

There are concerns when it comes to bacon and other processed meats. Many observational studies do show a link between consumption of processed meat, cancer, and heart disease. In particular, processed meat has been associated with cancer of the colon, breast, liver, lungs, and others. There is also an association between processed meat and cardiovascular disease. A large meta-analysis of prospective studies on meat consumption did show that while regular meat had no effect, processed meat was significantly associated with both heart disease and diabetes.

Of course, those who eat processed meat are also more likely to smoke, exercise less and live an overall unhealthier lifestyle than people who don’t. People who are eating processed meat in these studies may be eating them with pancakes, soft drinks or beer and might even have ice cream for dessert afterward (and there is nothing wrong with a scoop every now and then!). Therefore, we can’t draw too many conclusions from these findings. Correlation does not equal causation. However, these studies should not be ignored, because the associations are consistent and they are fairly strong.

How to Make The Right Choices.  Image result for Is Bacon Bad For You, or Good? The Salty, Crunchy Truth

As with most other types of meats, the quality of the final product depends on a lot of things, including what the animals ate and how the product was processed. The best bacon is from pasture-raised pigs that ate a diet that is appropriate for pigs. If you can, buy bacon from local farmers that used traditional processing methods. If you don’t have the option of purchasing your bacon directly from the farmer, then eat supermarket bacon at your own risk. Generally speaking, the less artificial ingredients in a product, the better.

If you want to make your own bacon, you can buy pork belly and then process or prepare the bacon yourself. There are several studies showing that bacon is linked to cancer and heart disease, but all of them are so-called epidemiological studies, which can not prove causation. Overall and based on studies that I have read, bacon is not harmful when consumed in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle (OR when staying clear of refined carbohydrates and sugars). But it is a processed meat after all, and at the end of the day, you have to make your own choice. Do you think including this awesome food in your life is worth the risk? I know I am not giving up this crunchy yumminess! What better than a BLT?? However, YOU must decide, so form your own opinion based on scientific studies. 

Adapted from: Kris Gunnars, BSc

Nutrition Nugget

Separate, do not cross contaminate! Remember to separate foods in order to not cross contaminate when cooking. Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.

WOD  Nugget

Garrulous: Excessively talkative, especially on trivial matters

Inspiration Nugget

7 Rules for a Happy Life: 1. Think of others more than yourself. 2. Laugh every day. 3. Spend less money than you make. 4. Be an encourager NOT a critic. 5. Pray when you feel like worrying. 6. Give thanks when you feel like complaining. 7. Keep going when you feel like quitting.

“We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves – the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds – never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake.”

~Pema ChÖdrÖn

 

 

Calorie restriction slows age-related epigenetic changes

Researchers found that calorie restriction slows age-related epigenetic changes in mice and monkeys. The findings suggest a mechanism for how calorie restriction extends lifespan.

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Ok….lets feel better about aging!

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Calorie restriction has been shown to extend lifespan in several different species, but the underlying reason isn’t known. During normal aging, epigenetic changes occur throughout cells in the body. These changes alter the way genes are switched on and off without changing the DNA sequence itself. Levels of one type of epigenetic modification, called DNA methylation, have been shown to roughly reflect a person’s age. To investigate whether caloric restriction affects DNA methylation, a team of scientists led by Dr. Jean-Pierra J. Issa at Temple University examined the epigenetic profiles of mice, rhesus monkeys, and humans at different ages. They then tested whether these changes were altered by a calorie-restricted diet in mice and monkeys.

The team first analyzed DNA methylation in blood from mice, rhesus monkeys, and humans at different ages. Each species showed similar changes in DNA methylation patterns as they aged. These changes are called methylation drift, or epigenetic drift. The rates of epigenetic drift were inversely correlated with lifespan. That is, the shorter the species lifespan, the faster the changes in DNA methylation. This finding suggests that DNA methylation helps regulate the effects of aging.

The team then tested whether a calorie-restricted diet could slow methylation drift by feeding a group of mice 40% fewer calories than controls starting when they were 0.3 years old until they were 2.7 to 3.2 years old. They also fed rhesus monkeys a diet with 30% fewer calories than controls starting at the age of 7–14 years old until they were 22 to 30 years old. The changes in DNA methylation patterns slowed for the animals fed a calorie-restricted diet. Monkeys on a calorie-restricted diet showed the same patterns of DNA methylation as monkeys who were 7 years younger but had eaten regular diets. This methylation age difference was even higher in mice.

The team then compared the rates of epigenetic drift to telomere shortening. Telomeres are molecular caps at the ends of chromosomes. Their length has previously been linked to the aging process. Calorie restriction had no measurable effect on telomere length. “The impacts of calorie restriction on lifespan have been known for decades, but thanks to modern quantitative techniques, we are able to show for the first time a striking slowing down of epigenetic drift as lifespan increases,” Issa says.

More studies are needed to better understand why age-related epigenetic changes occur faster in some people than others, and whether altering them could help prolong human life. The study was funded by National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Cancer Institute (NCI) and National Institute on Aging (NIA). Results appeared online on September 14, 2017, in Nature Communications.

Adapted from: Caloric restriction delays age-related methylation drift. Maegawa S, Lu Y, Tahara T, Lee JT, Madzo J, Liang S, Jelinek J, Colman RJ, Issa JJ. Nat Commun. 2017 Sep 14;8(1):539. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-00607-3. PMID: 28912502.

Nutritional Nugget

Barely eat barley? This hearty whole grain can be used in soups, salads, risottos, or cooked like oatmeal for breakfast.

WOD Nugget

Jaded: Bored or lacking enthusiasm, typically after having had too much of something

Inspiration Nugget

The longer you wait for something, the more you appreciate it when it finally arrives. The harder you fight for something, the more priceless it becomes once you achieve it. The more pain you endure on your journey, the sweeter the arrival at your destination. Remember... all good things are worth waiting for and fighting for.