It is a known fact that United States is seen around the world as a country with a “poor” diet. Following the first world pace and trends, people tend to fall into poor eating habits. Eating rituals begins to revolve around convenience for some, while for others, it is simply a matter of their budget. It is safe to say that nowadays more people choose to eat out (whether it’s fast food, or a full on wine and dine restaurant) mostly due to its convenience, and partially due to lack of time to cook. Most people believe that they don’t have enough time to cook meals from scratch even if it’s only a couple of times a week. You can see that grocery lists become more filled with “ready to eat” meals, frozen pre-made dinners, canned meals etc. Typically, that kind of ‘diet’ is high in fats, sodium, calories and preservatives.
This unhealthy diet leads to an increase in health diseases, one of which is obesity. USA is often seen around the world as a Large nation in terms of the size of its people. Obesity, however, isn’t the only health issue that is caused by a ‘poor’ diet. There are many other chronic illnesses, some of which are: cardio vascular disease, type 2 diabetes, etc. One thing we tend to forget is that these illnesses don’t only affect adults; they begin to develop since early childhood. By choosing fast food options for themselves, often times adults choose the same option for their kids, as well.
What is so unhealthy about a typical American citizen’s diet? Commonly, most of the calories that are consumed throughout the day by an average American person come from sugar (more refined than natural). A heavy meat consumption contributes to that, as well. “The Typical American Diet” mentions that the United States is the second largest meat consumer county in the world. On average, an adult person in the UAS eats 270lb of meat per year. This become even more of a problem when we realize that most of that meat is processed, and isn’t well balanced with other nutrients such as veggies, grains, fruit, etc.
While some Americans get into “unhealthy” eating habits or “poor” dieting due to their lack of time and life style, others make their choices based on their budget. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Plan, an American family of four (with kids above the age of five) on a ‘thrifty’ budget spend on average $650.50 a month, while those with a ‘liberal’ budget spend an average of $1293.20 a month. Unfortunately, those with the ‘thrifty’ budget make up for the majority of the population of the country. 1
According to Value Penguin, an average American family spends a huge chunk of their food budget on nonalcoholic drinks. In their research, the average amount (basing on an average family of 2.5 people with a yearly food budget of $3,935) spent on nonalcoholic beverages reaches $384 per year, which is roughly 9.5% of the total budget.2 It would be much better to drink water instead of sodas and juice, not only saving money, but also keeping sugar consumption down. What a simple change! Yet, it is an incredibly healthy choice to make.
Does eating on a budget have to be unhealthy, though? Typically, people tend to believe that the healthy options are more expensive than what they can afford. USA Today mentions that such an assumption is only a myth: “We constantly hear the claim that you can’t eat healthy on a budget, and to us, that’s a myth because a family can eat a healthy diet with fruits and vegetables that meets the Dietary Guidelines for Americans,” says Robert Post, associate executive director of the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. 3
So if that is indeed a myth, what would be the solution for the families who do live on a ‘thrifty’ budget? “Cost of Feeding a Family of Four: $146 to $289 A Week” in USA today explores this topic well and provides various tips from dietitians, nutrition experts and others.
Some of the tips most of them give include: budget well, shop on sale and plan it out. Make a menu for a week, buy only the things that are sure to be used, go for the product that is on sale (especially frozen veggies and fruits, as you can freeze them and store them for a while). One of the problems that Americans face is wasting food which = wasting money.
If you want to change your diet but don’t know how, take a look at the internet, cooking magazines and/or books and challenges such as #PassMyPlate, which provide loads of simple, inexpensive recipes and offer options that are healthy and won’t break the bank. An example of one of the many websites you can visit to get healthy food at a decent price is found by clickinghere. Remember that eating healthy food doesn’t have to be expensive.
In fact, if you need motivation to make a change in your diet, #PassMyPlate is an excellent option, with great side benefits. By taking this challenge, you’ll limit your food consumption to no more than $1.90 per day, per person, for one week during September (you decide the week). Yes, this amount covers all three meals in a day! Difficult, but not impossible, for sure, especially if you follow some of the delicious recipes we have for you on our site at www.passmyplate.com/recipes. There, you’ll find recipes by #Mind Over Munch and by #Byron Talbott – delicious and inexpensive! Not only will you find excellent recipes and you’ll learn how to eat simply and well, but you will also help provide funds for children who don’t have enough food to get them through the day. How? The challenge asks you to donate the difference between what you would have normally spent during the week and what you actually spent ($1.90 per day) to #AFCAids. We will turn those donations into sustainable food solutions for children who desperately need good nutrition.
Check out three recipes provided by #Mind Over Munch by clicking here. Enjoy!
Sign up to #PassMyPlate now and help kids in Africa have enough food to eat.