What is the actual price of healthy living?

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Answered by: Chris, An Expert in the Healthy Living 101 Category
"99 cent burgers!" "Two hash browns for a dollar!" "69 cent tacos!"

Advertisements such as these are splashed across billboards, scrawled upon the windows of fast food establishments, and shouted from our televisions hundreds of times a day. As every dollar we hand over to the grocery cashier seems to be worth less than it was the day before, it only makes good sense to ponder if the real price of healthy living is worth our attention. In a population where there never seems to be enough time to do all the things we need to do, investing what little of it we do have in more food preparation seems like a luxury we just can't afford.

Unless consumers spend hours researching the ingredients in the boxes and containers of prepared "food" they bring home each week, there's no way for them to know exactly how a whole meal got into that little package. If they did a little digging they'd be shocked to discover many of the manufacturers of the high fructose, corn syrup-laden products they avoid are the same companies making products labeled as "natural" and "organic". Actually, the company has done the work for them. Buyers are compensating them for their labor, not for the quality of their product. Time is money. Or at least that's the motivation behind meals that can be made in minutes instead of hours.

Much of our aversion to carving out a portion of our week for elaborate preparations to assure the nutritional quality of our food was set into place when we made the move to metropolitan areas and suburbs. We hardly think about spending the greater part of a weekend toiling to have a spectacular lawn. We simply forget that just a few decades ago our grandparents were using their weekends to cultivate gardens to provide food for their own tables. We will take the time to get in the car, drive to a health club and exercise with state-of-the-art machines, but we can't imagine using a hoe, a rake, and a shovel instead. We treat our family to a night out at a restaurant, shelling out what may equal our entire week's grocery allowance, only to indulge in a rich, fried extravaganza of less than stellar fare.

What is the real price of healthy living?

It's a simple shift in time management. It's choosing to look at the resources you already have available in your life in a whole new way. Instead of relying on dehydrated, processed, powdered, or freeze-dried dinners, begin to look at the vast variety of real, live food you've always considered to take too much time to prepare. In fact, with just a little bit of planning you can transform whole fruits and vegetables, exotic beans and rices, or colorful pastas and flours into a full week's worth of meals. You can even buy a packet of seeds for about a dollar that will soon fill a pot to overflowing with fresh herbs and spices.

You don't have to make the change all at once. Just try a single, fresh vegetable every week. Or learn how to make a pot of rice one day for use in another recipe later. You'll soon discover you're keeping more of your previously shrinking dollars in your wallet and your body will notice the benefits too.

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