Tuesday, July 8, 2014

An Apple a Day Probably Won't Keep the Doctor Away

Ok, so let's talk about the cost of getting healthy.

It's expensive. Damn expensive.

On average, I was spending about $25 per week on groceries before I started this journey.  Sure, most of my meals came from a bag or a box, but that's not the point. Now, although I still eat processed foods like Lean Cuisines and Baked Cheetos, the average cost of my groceries per week has jumped to $80. I used to get all of my food at Save-a-Lot. It was mostly all generic brands, but I was fine with that because everything still tasted good. Now, I can't shop there very often. Yes, I can buy produce and meat, but if I want anything else, I have to go to Walmart or Kroger. I can't really buy anything generic. A bag of chips used to cost me $1.29, but now it costs almost $4.00.

But, apparently, I'm lying to you...

A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health in 2013 concluded that eating healthy doesn't cost much more than eating unhealthy. According to Dariush Mozaffarian, the study’s senior author and associate professor at HSPH and Harvard Medical School, “While healthier diets did cost more, the difference was smaller than many people might have expected. Over the course of a year, $1.50/day more for eating a healthy diet would increase food costs for one person by about $550 per year. This would represent a real burden for some families, and we need policies to help offset these costs. On the other hand, this price difference is very small in comparison to the economic costs of diet-related chronic diseases, which would be dramatically reduced by healthy diets.”

I'm sorry... Are we comparing the price of fruits and vegetables to the price of high-dollar steaks and gourmet pastries?  

The food I was eating before certainly wasn't high quality. I was surviving on Ramen Noodles and Michelina's frozen dinners. The dinners I was eating typically would cost around $1-$2. Now, they're double that. The study also says the findings were based on a 2,000 calorie diet. My question is, where in the world are they getting those numbers?

Back to Ramen Noodles...

For example, one serving of Ramen Noodles is 190 calories. Keep in mind that one serving is only half of a package. A 12-pack of Ramen Noodles is roughly $2.00, which would equal 24 servings. If you ate the entire pack of noodles, that would equal over 4,500 calories, which according to HSPH's study, would be enough calories for two days.The price of bananas, one of the higher-calorie fruits, runs about $0.59 per pound. A bunch of bananas typically weighs around two pounds, so it costs approximately $1.18 for about six bananas. In order to get 4,500 calories from bananas alone, you would have to eat over 40 bananas, costing almost $8.00. Yes, this is an extreme example, but you have to remember, thousands of college kids survive on Ramen Noodles. I don't know many people, okay, I don't know ANY people, who only eat bananas.

I'm certainly no Harvard "expert," but this just doesn't make any sense. Using the most extreme example, the numbers just don't add up. You can't tell me that eating healthy only costs $1.50 more per day when my grocery bill has jumped almost $60 per week. Keep in mind that I was shopping at Save-a-Lot. Had I bought the food I previously ate at Kroger, the difference would most likely be less, but the difference would still be higher than $1.50 per day.

The study mentions nothing about brands of food or eating out, which the average American does four times per week, and I find that very disappointing.

But, don't even get me started on the price of eating healthy at a restaurant versus not eating healthy. Take a look at dollar menus. You can get a double cheeseburger or french fries, but forget about getting a grilled chicken sandwich for anything less than $4.00.

The study does mention that in the long run, eating healthy ends up being extremely more affordable due to the fact that illnesses caused by an unhealthy diet significantly increase your cost of healthcare. However, just because you eat an apple a day, doesn't mean the doctor is going to stay away.

Obviously, I don't have any scientific backing and I'm pretty much just ranting, but it's not fair. I only have my own experience to base this off of, but figure it out for yourself! This week, buy anything unhealthy that looks delicious. The next week, buy groceries that enable you to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. I promise that it will cost you more than it did the previous week! Okay, don't really do that. After all, we're trying to be healthy here!


  1. Loraine Branan7/14/14, 2:21 PM

    I have noticed that I am spending more on groceries as well. There are many outside forces that has raised the prices of everything. Storms, droughts, all that raises prices. But I have been reading that living healthy is the way we need to be. In the end when you add medical costs, you come out spending less on healthy living. A great read on this is Tom Schneider's A Physician's Apology, ihealthspan.com is his site. There are just some reasons to take on the healthy over the cheaper and easy foods. I get your rant though, prices are rising so quickly it does make it difficult to eat right for sure!

    1. Thank you for your comment. We are supposed to eat healthy, but then we can't afford anything else! I understand that eating healthy would decrease medical costs in the future, but it's hard to come up with the extra money right now. And who knows, I could get hit by a bus in 10 years and never have to worry about medical expenses from obesity. Morbid way to look at it, but it's true. Eating healthy just needs to be more affordable.


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