WACH: Eating Healthy Doesn’t Have to Break the Bank

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Columbia, S.C. (WACH)- Is eating healthy going to cost you more money? Experts say if done right, it could actually save you money by eating at home and controlling your portion size.

“We know that 80% of Midlands residents are not consuming the right amount of fruits and vegetables consistent with a healthy diet,” said Amanda Butler, Executive Director of the American Heart Association. “While access to healthy food is a real problem, so is the education and awareness of what makes up a healthy diet. We are working with Carolina Nutrition Consultants in a year-round effort to not only address healthy food access, but to also educate the Midlands community about heart-healthy dietary choices.”

The American Heart Association suggests these daily amounts:

• Vegetables – canned, dried, fresh & frozen; 5 servings

• Fruits – canned, dried, fresh & frozen; 4 servings

• Whole grains – barley, brown rice, millet, oatmeal, popcorn and whole wheat bread, crackers & pasta; 3-6 servings

• Dairy – low fat (1%) and fat-free; 3 servings

• Proteins – eggs, fish, lean meat, legumes, nuts, poultry & seeds; 1-2 servings

• Oils – polyunsaturated and monounsaturated canola, olive, peanut, safflower & sesame oil; 3 Tbsp

“Making small changes and substitutions in your daily diet can have a big impact on your health and doesn’t have to ruin your budget,” said Edna Cox Rice, CEO of Carolina Nutrition Consultants. “A healthy eating pattern is about consistent, smart choices you make as you shop and prepare your meals.”

Shop smart. Plan your meals for the week before you go shopping but be prepared to be flexible—you might encounter an unexpected sale item. Buy more fruits and vegetables, and less meat. Instead of meat, use beans in some recipes, like burritos, tacos, soups and pasta dishes.

Compare labels to pick the healthiest options when you shop.

Fresh and fruits and vegetables are cheapest when they’re in season.

Frozen fruits and vegetables without added sauces are affordable and great to have on hand when you’re low on funds or don’t feel like heading to the store.

Go whole. Even if that loaf of whole-grain bread costs more than that log of spongy white stuff, you’re getting more nutritional bang for your buck. The whole-grain bread has more vitamins and more fiber, which satisfies your hunger longer. The same is true of whole-grain pastas and crackers, and brown rice instead of white. Do make your own rice, because it’s usually healthier than the mixes.

Serve and store. After everyone has taken their desired portion of the great dinner you made, immediately put the leftovers in containers and store them in the fridge or freezer. They could add up to another dinner. That leftover chili would taste great tomorrow over baked potatoes, for example. Leftovers also equal instant lunches

In collaboration with Carolina Nutrition Consultants, the AHA will be hosting a series of “Eat This. Not That.” challenges at local grocery stores throughout the Midlands in November. Participants will learn how to make heart-healthy selections with guidance from a CNC Registered Dietitian. In addition, one lucky winner will receive free-nutritional consultation series from Carolina Nutrition Consultants.

To learn more about heart-healthy nutritional tips or for more information about the “Eat This. Not That.” challenges, please call 803-806-3008.

*Servings are based on AHA’s Healthy US-Style Eating Pattern for 2,000 calories/day. Your calories needs may be different. Servings equivalent may depend on form of food. More info on serving sizes is at heart.org/servings.

Information courtesy: AHA