The Fiscal Fallacy of Health

After the holiday season, when purse strings might get a little tighter, and wallets a little lighter, now we are pressured into getting healthier. So to facilitate obtaining health in more ways than one, let’s discuss the fiscal fallacy of health.

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You are consistently told that in order to be healthy you need to eat organic, non-gmo, grass fed, heirloom, hormone free, clean, keto, or low-calorie options. What most people hear when they are told that is the way to each is cha-ching, cha-ching.

Herein lies the fallacy of finance and health. While yes, there is research to demonstrate that if you are wealthier, that your health may be influenced. However, there other studies that no one talks about, and that is the idea that health is expensive impacts your mindset before you even step foot in to grocery store. Meaning that when you believe that it is too expensive to eat healthy you are less likely to try to eat healthy.

Aside from growing your own garden, or establishing yourself as a “huntertarian” (someone who only eats meat they kill) there are countless ways to stretch money in the grocery budget. There are a countless number of ways that you can eat healthy on a budget. The wellness industry has literally made millions of dollars addressing this subject.

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Just to share a quick nugget of knowledge, “Consumers across all age groups expressed a willingness to pay 10–24% more for organics, from shoppers 18–39 (32%) to 40–49 (40%) to shoppers 50–58 (27%) to shoppers 59-plus (26%). Beyond that, younger consumers were most willing to pay more organic, with 19% saying they’d pay 25–49% more.”

Continuing that point, here is where it gets expensive. When people are trying to eat healthy, they often want to keep eating what they’re eating, but just buy it healthier. With all of the new fads, tag lines, and buzz words people are paying for convenience and the idea of health. The “healthy” blue corn chips are still corn chips. The meatless chicken nuggets are still processed foods. Veggie chips are still potato chips because potatoes are vegetable. So, in actuality, all potato chips are veggie chips. Then there is the mentality, that if you aren’t going to eat fresh fruits you shouldn’t eat them at all. People have told me they believed eating canned fruit is the same as drinking a soda. Which is not true. This is the same mentality that leads people to think that if they can’t afford organic then they wouldn’t want to eat the non-organic pineapple.

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While there is so much to say on this topic, understand that people will sell you the idea of health rather than sell you health, so don’t buy it.

Here are a few tips to help your bank account and your health.

  1. Fresh foods are going to be cheapest when they are bought in season.

2. There is a lot of research about the health impact of eating fruits and vegetables. There is not nearly as much research about whether or not it should be organic/non-gmo. So, just eat the fruits and vegetables.

3. Limit buying processed health foods. Those organic Oreo’s are going to cost more, because the manufacturer knows that people will pay more and the idea that it costs more to be healthy.

4. Buy frozen. It is nutritionally the same, and sometimes better than, it’s fresh counter parts. Oh, and it keeps for longer.

5. Plan your meals so that you use the food you have before it goes bad. In our budgets, throwing away food is throwing away money.

Keep in mind that there are still costs associated with eating healthy. The reality is, that you are going to have to pay somewhere. You can pay in convenience, time, or money. Consider whether you would be willing to pay more for food that is already prepared, spend more time making foods, or be willing to devise a plan to be efficient with your time to make healthier options.

How would you rank those three in terms of what you value most? (cost, convenience, time)

  1. ______________ 2. ______________ 3. ______________

Now that you have considered what is important to you, consider how you could use that knowledge to help you be healthier. For example, if you know that you finances aren’t likely to change then how could you use your time and abilities to increase the healthiness of your food? Would it be using a slow cooker, blender, or insta-pot? Could it be buying food in season, or frozen? Perhaps it is through planning your meals on a weekly basis.

Likewise, if you know that your time isn’t going to change, the how can you identify more healthy food options that will make it easier for you on the go? Would eating vegetarian options while eating out serve as a way to incorporate more plant based foods into your diet? Maybe carrying small snacks with you during the day to prevent making poor food decisions because you’re starving could be beneficial.

These are just a few tips and tricks that should cause some reflection that can help you in understanding your values, options, and abilities all to improve your health.

You might not like this story, so just try another! They’re free like that. Good ole’ information buffet. Dietitian, Professor, Author www.cordellnutrition.com

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