Going on a diet can make you lose more than extra pounds. One of the contributing factors to obesity is simple economics. A person with less money buys unhealthy food because the food is cheaper. You can go on a diet without wiping out your bank account, but you’ll need to do some budgeting first.
Many adults in the United States are missing specific vitamins, namely Vitamin D, calcium, fiber and potassium. All of these nutrients are necessary for good health and weight control. But studies have shown that adding these vitamins, with the exception of calcium, raises food costs.
In 2011, for example, three researchers at the University of Washington found that in King County, Washington, adding enough potassium to an adult’s diet would also add $380 to that adult’s annual food costs. Vitamin D and fiber would add another $127.
Another disturbing revelation was how much food costs fell as fat was added. For every 1 percent increase in fat calories, food expenses fell by 28 percent. Simply put, the more fat the food had, the less it cost.
Healthy food, such as fruits and vegetables, are simply more expensive to get. Produce must be grown and shipped to the store, but because produce has a limited shelf life, not all the items make it to customers. This increases the seller’s costs, which raises store prices in return. Other healthy foods, such as whole grain breads, contain more natural and more expensive ingredients.
Unhealthy food additives, sugar and fat make food last longer and are typically cheaper. For example, adding inexpensive preservatives, such as sugar and sodium, to canned fruit makes the fruit last longer and weather rougher methods of transit and delivery to the grocery market.
You can budget for healthy eating by cutting out unnecessary costs such as restaurant meals and adding those savings to your food budget. Don’t forget about sales and coupons, either. Most grocery stores run sales and accept coupons, so you can save on healthy products by taking advantage of deals.
If you can’t cut your budget any further, try trading “bad” foods for “good” foods and making food stretch further. For example, instead of buying two bags of chips, get loose apples that add up to the same cost.
Cut down on credit card expenses to free up some money for your food budget. If you can’t pay off your cards in full, you may be able to save on interest by transferring balances to a lower-interest card.
Some financial research websites, including http://www.moneysupermarket.com/credit-cards/ allow you to compare transfer deals. Don’t transfer balances before reading the fine print on the agreement, as balance transfer fees can eliminate your savings.