HAMMONTON - Eating healthy does not have to be expensive, a fact that was at the heart of the “Eating Healthy on a Budget” lecture at the Galloway Township Branch of the Atlantic County Library System on Nov. 9.
“Everyone lives on a budget,” said Dawn Gush, food service director for DePaul Healthcare at Woodview Estates. For Gush, healthy eating on a budget is a part of her life, both personally and professionally.
Healthy eating on a budget all starts at the grocery store.
“When you go shopping, it is extremely important to use a grocery list,” said Gush. According to Gush, a grocery list is so important because it helps you to shop only for what you set out to get. Whn you go to the grocery store without a list, you are more likely to give into impulse and buy unhealthy foods.
Also, never go grocery shopping while hungry as that can also led to unhealthy food choices, she said. While at the grocery store, stick to the perimeter of the store as that is where the healthier and fresher foods tend to be. The more processed foods tend to be in the center aisles.
The next step in eating healthy on a budget is cooking at home, which allows you to control portions and the ingredients. This is especially important for anyone who has to be extra mindful of what they eat because of a health issue such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
One such ingredient that requires extra awareness for those with high blood pressure is salt, an ingredient that is far too often overused in restaurants and pre-packaged food.
“It’s amazing when you remove it [salt] from your diet, you become hypersensitive to it,” said Carolyn Racioppi, resident services director at DePaul Healthcare.
While cooking at home may seem like a hassle there are a number of ways to help ease the burden. One way is to cook ahead and store meals for a later time. Another way is to cook larger portions for leftovers.
“There are a number of ways to stretch for two or three meals,” said Gush.
Portion size is another factor in eating healthy on a budget, but visualizing just what a portion is for which foods can be difficult. However, according to Gush’s research:
• A portion size for vegetables is a baseball and a half.
• A portion size for carbohydrates, dairy and fruit are the size of a baseball.
• A portion size for meat is a deck of cards (the size of your palm).
Snacking also plays a role in healthy eating on a budget. According to Gush, fruit and homemade popcorn are two healthy and affordable snacks.