With all the uncertainty around the economy at the moment, it’s easy to start thinking that it just costs too much to lead a healthy lifestyle. You might despair at the rising price of good quality food that hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides, compared to the cheap (and nasty) junk food that’s so easily available.
When you see the pictures of top celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow glowing with health you might think – ‘well, it’s ok for them, with their private chef, personal trainer, and fancy superfoods!’.
And yes, that’s probably true, but there are lots of ways us mere mortals can have a stay healthy, without having to spend a fortune on a Gwyneth-style superfood smoothie.
Here are 9 ways to lead a healthy lifestyle that don’t break the bank – in fact they will actually save you money.
1. Put the fork down
This may seem really obvious, but it needs saying as we ALL do it – stop eating too much food!
As we all know, overeating can lead to bad digestion, obesity, diabetes, and all the other illnesses that accompany being overweight.
To give an economical perspective: apart from money spent on digestive remedies, any food that you overeat is wasted food – and that means wasted money. Our bodies simply cannot efficiently process any nutrients from food that is eaten unnecessarily; when we’re not hungry. And as you know, good food doesn’t come cheap, so it’s well worth bearing this in mind.
If you’re not sure whether you overeat or not, take a look down at your own body – it will tell you all you need to know.
Now, as a weight-loss therapist, I’m all too aware that it’s not that simple. You could say to yourself – ‘right, ok, I’m not going to overeat any more’ and that resolution might not even make it to the next meal.
There are many complex reasons for overeating, and eating the wrong types of food, and that’s why it’s often a good idea to get professional help in this area. A good weight-loss support program can be one of the best investments you can make for your own health.
If you’re interested in taking one of my weight-loss coaching programs, call me on 0791 240 8830 to book a consultation.
2. Make your own superfoods
Health foods and nutraceutricals are BIG business nowadays. But you don’t need to spend a fortune on supplements and superfoods when you can find, or make, your own.
Spending money on probiotic capsules or drinks? Fermented foods can provide an excellent source of live probiotics, and it is very inexpensive to make them at home. They’re seriously tasty, and lots of fun to make! Take a look at my video on how to make water kefir – it’s one of the easiest ways to get started with fermentation.
Foraging around your local parks and woodlands can be a another fun way of getting superfresh superfoods for free. You can find fruit, greens for juice, smoothies and soups, edible flowers for salads, and all kinds of herbs to make teas with.
And doesn’t it make sense that these freshly-picked foods would hold much more life force and nutritional value than foods that have been mass-produced, harvested, dried, ground into powder, packaged up, then flown halfway across the world?
Before you start foraging it is best to learn from an experienced guide so you know what to look for. Look for courses in your local area – they’re usually excellent value for money.
3. Take advantage of free resources
Never before have we had access to such a wealth of free health information than we do now. You Tube, phone apps, podcasts, blogs – they’re all out there, offering you tons of good resources to help you get healthy.
Check out all the free exercise classes on YouTube for instance – if you wanted you could try a different class every day completely free, from the privacy of your own home.
Subscribe to some good podcasts or radio interviews with health professionals that appeal to you, and listen to them whenever you’re doing any mundane tasks like housework etc. It’s far better to educate and inspire yourself than to have the TV on in the background blaring out its daily nonsense.
4. Adapt your environment
Take a look around your home and think up ways you can make it more ‘health-friendly’. Fix a hanging bar onto a sturdy door frame and have a swing on it whenever you go past. Leave a yoga mat out in a corner somewhere, beckoning you to come and stretch. Drag your rebounder out from under the bed and leave it in front of the TV so it’s ready to bounce on whenever you feel in the mood.
It costs nothing to leave these little ‘health anchors’ around your house so that it becomes second nature to move about rather than to just slump on the couch when you get home at night.
5. Don’t waste any nutrition
Many nutrients can be lost during food processing procedures, so eat your foods as close as possible to their natural state, thereby maximising any nutritional value. Good food is expensive, so get the most out of it.
Use the healthiest cooking methods possible – don’t deep-fry when you can sauté, and don’t bake if you can steam. And if it can be eaten raw, then all the better – you’ll cut down your energy bills too!
Look at it this way – the more nutrition you can extract from your food, the more satiated you will feel from it, and the less food you will need overall.
6. Get out and about
You don’t need to pay a fortune in gym subscriptions to exercise. Just put on some comfy clothes, a good pair of exercise shoes, get outside and get moving. Exercising outdoors is much more preferable to indoors – if you are lucky enough to have a natural space nearby you get all the health benefits that come from fresh healthy air and sunshine, plus the uplifting feeling that comes from being around nature.
Simply running, cycling or walking (or skipping and jumping!) will take care of your cardio needs, and you may be able to find a nearby playground with a hanging frame or bars to tone and strengthen up by using your own bodyweight. Perhaps go at a quiet time so you’re not fighting with the kids for the next go on the swings 😉
7. Grow your own
Growing your own edible plants provides you with a fresh healthy food supply. It’s lots of fun, good exercise, and you don’t need a huge garden – or even any garden, come to that.
Raised beds, hanging baskets, pots, trays – you can utilise lots of different containers to start growing your own food, and adapt them to suit your own space.
Baby greens can be grown indoors on a windowsill if you don’t have any outside space of your own. These are some of the most nutrient dense foods around, and buying the seeds in bulk works out great value for money.
Don’t waste your money buying seeds and beans and then just cooking all the goodness out of them – sprouting and growing them into microgreens and beansprouts gives you so much more bang for your buck.
8. Grab a bargain
Buying in bulk at your local farmer’s market or co-op can save a lot of money. Supermarkets usually have a special shelf for fresh produce that they need to shift quickly before it goes out of date.
The good thing is, when it comes to fruit and veg, you don’t really need a ‘best before’ date – it’s so easy to go by ‘look and feel’ instead. I steer clear of the wilting greens but I often pick up some excellent fruit that is perfectly ripe and ready to eat.
9. Takeaway the takeaways
It’s funny, but often the people who shout the loudest about healthy food being too expensive are often the same people who think nothing of spending their hard-earned cash on takeaway food.
In terms of good health, your average takeaway food is the worst way to spend your money. You are basically paying to eat greasy, salty, processed, low value food that is devoid of nutrition, which will tempt you to overeat and ultimately cause you some form of ill-health. Why on earth would you pay for that?
When getting a takeaway, it’s all too easy to add on a couple of side dishes, drinks etc, and before you know it you could have got a week’s worth of shopping at the supermarket for the same price.
Stop seeing takeaway food as ‘a treat’. See it for what it really is: a drain on your health AND money resources.
Add up how much you spend each month on outsourcing your food preparation, and you’ll start to realise how frugal it is to get prepared and make your own food from scratch.
You won’t just be saving money right now – you’ll be investing in your future health, reducing your days off work due to sickness, and enjoying the feeling of living in a slim healthy body.
Lisa Murphy is a hypnotherapist & counsellor based in Glasgow, who specialises in anxiety, stress, and weight management.