Post contributed by Onikia N. Brown, Assistant Professor & Extension Specialist, College of Human Sciences, Department of Nutrition, Dietetics, and Hospitality Management
As we enter into a new year many of us are deciding ways to be healthier. For some, this means eating healthier, for others, it means getting more rest, and for many it means becoming physically active. These goals may seem very hard to accomplish when you are out of money and time. The good news is that you don’t need anything (but maybe some advice and motivation) to get started or maintain a healthier lifestyle!
Although fresh is best, it can also be more expensive. Make your dollars stretch by buying fresh fruits and vegetables that are on sale. Canned and/frozen fruits and vegetables are another option to decreasing your grocery bill. Choose canned fruits and vegetables that are in lite syrup and have low sodium, or rinse them before eating. Supply your own fruits and vegetables by starting a container garden, or invite friends, neighbors and even colleagues to start a garden with the goal that you all will swap food to have more variety.
Monitor what you drink. Choose water as much as possible, you will save calories and money! Drink water from a refillable water bottle, and decrease your sugar sweetened beverages (soda, tea, coffee, sports drinks, juice). You will also save money and the earth by buying less plastic bottles.
Eat more whole grain foods. Sometimes these foods cost more, but the benefit far outweigh the increased cost. Whole grains help you feel full faster and longer, so you should want to eat less! Whole grains also help decrease the risk of obesity, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure.
Choose a protein that counts! Lean meat, poultry and fish are all excellent sources of protein, but when your budget has thinned, don’t forget that beans with rice is an inexpensive protein. Bake, broil, grill, saute, and roasting are excellent ways to cook your protein; try not to fry.
You don’t need a budget to get active! Small steps are big steps! Park further away from the stores you frequent, take the stairs instead of the elevator/escalator, pick up the pace of your walking, take a walk around your neighborhood, and or play outdoors with your children (if you have them!). Being active helps you to burn calories, manage your stress, and sleep better!