Health care has been a hot topic lately and according to a 2012 article from Forbes, obesity now costs Americans more in health care spending than smoking. And according to Forbes, obese men rack up an additional $1,152 a year in medical spending, especially for hospitalizations and prescription drugs. Obese women account for an extra $3,613 a year—and these figures are only from 2012. Imagine what they are nearly two years later!
You may be thinking, what’s the big deal—I’ll just lose weight—but JUST losing weight is a lot more challenging than most people realize. If you could JUST lose the weight, more than 35% of the country would not be obese and the United States would not have been the most obese country in the world until Mexico recently knocked us off our bloated pedestal.
Being obese causes limited mobility, aches and pains, poor body image, lack of self-confidence and worst of all—an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Why would you pop prescription pills to lessen your symptoms of obesity when you could shed the pounds and look amazing by being healthy and choosing good, balanced nutrition?
Jerri Schlacter was physically and mentally sick and she just couldn’t take it anymore. Finally, she was so fed up; she went to see a doctor about her weight. That was the day Jerri had to make the biggest decision of her life—to lose weight or rely on medication because her blood sugar levels were too high to function normally.
Jerri started bistroMD and easily lost 20 pounds and she still continues to shed the weight. She says she’s never had more energy. When asked what her favorite thing is about bistroMD, Jerri replied, “It’s saving me.”
Being healthy and making healthy food choices can save you too.
Be Healthy with Healthy Food Choices
You’ve probably grown up hearing about the benefits of healthy eating. Your parents probably told you to eat your vegetables and you’ve probably heard the age-old saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Well, an apple a day isn’t enough to keep the doctor away, but healthy eating certainly is. Besides, don’t you want to prevent against certain diseases? We all have something to live for, right? Healthy eating is associated with reduced risks for many diseases like obesity, heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. Proper nutrition also promotes the growth and development of your little ones. What about their health?
Do you ever feel like you never have enough energy? A poor diet can actually lead to energy imbalance. Think of healthy eating as your body’s fuel. A car can’t run on any gasoline and neither can your body. Eating junk food and practicing poor nutrition can cause your weight to balloon, eventually leading to obesity.
Remember, more than 35% of Americans are obese, and unfortunately, and this number only keeps on rising. Don’t be just another percentage. Be healthy and use these healthy eating tips to get your body and your health back on track.
Easy Ways to Splurge on Healthy Items at the Grocery Store
The grocery store is home to many delicious and healthy items too—not just the empty calorie, processed food items that Americans seem to gravitate toward. Check out these EASY and healthy grocery shopping tips:
Shop the perimeter of the store. A good rule of thumb is that healthy food lives outside of the aisles. Pay attention to food labels and don’t get sucked in by the junk food living inside the aisles.
Choose real foods like 100% whole grain and 100% fruit juice.
Avoid foods that contain these things: More than 5 ingredients, artificial ingredients or ingredients you can’t pronounce.
Grocery Shopping Tips from bistroMD's Registered Dietitians
According to our registered dietician, Sarah Hallenberger, “I think it is a great idea to keep a pantry stocked with healthy, easy to prepare items like the ones listed below.”
These are all relatively inexpensive items and serve as a great base for meals and side dishes, just add fresh produce and a protein for a meal!
- Whole grains such as brown rice, oats, barley, quinoa
- Whole wheat pasta
- Baking needs such as whole wheat flour, baking powder, and brown sugar
- Canned and/or dried legumes (beans, lentils, peas)
- Canned tuna/chicken packed in water, not oil
- Canned tomatoes (no salt or preservatives added)
- Vinegar (apple cider, balsamic, red wine etc.)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Dried Spices/herbs and Extracts (mint, lemon, almond)
- Low-Sodium Chicken/Vegetable Stock
- Onions, Shallots, Garlic, Ginger
- Nuts/Seeds (ex: pistachios, almonds, flaxseed, chia seeds)
- Nut butter (peanut, almond, sunflower, etc.)
- Salsa (a low sodium variety)
- Fruits that do not need refrigeration (bananas, peaches, apples, kiwi, avocado etc)
- Greek Yogurt
- Cottage Cheese
- Lean Deli Meats (chicken, turkey and preferably low-sodium)
- 100% Juices
- Produce (bell peppers, greens [spinach, kale, romaine etc.], squash, carrots, berries
- Condiments such as Dijon mustard, hot sauce, oil/vinegar salad dressings
Freezer Staple Items:
“The freezer can be a disaster for your health and weight loss efforts when it is filled with frozen dinners, ice cream, frozen pizzas and chicken nuggets. Let’s forget the idea of what you think your freezer is supposed to house and refocus your energies to these healthy staples to keep stocked at all times for when you’re in a pinch for a quick meal,” said Sarah.
- Mixed Berries
- Frozen Veggie Burgers/Turkey Burgers
- Fish (Salmon, Haddock, Cod, Shrimp)
- Pre-chopped Vegetables
- Leftovers also are great in the freezer (soups, lasagna, etc.)
- If bread or cheese is purchased in bulk on sale, these freeze nicely as well
- Fresh vegetables about to turn? Chop and freeze in an air-tight container for later use.
Easy, Healthy Recipes Hand-Picked by Sarah Hallenberger, RD
Egg Prosciutto and Tomato Muffins: “I personally whip up this breakfast recipe about once every two weeks with leftovers for a quick breakfast,” says Sarah.
Baked Salmon with Garlic and Dijon: "For a delicious and fun way to try something new, I strongly suggest this dinner recipe. It's got great flavor, and is relatively easy to prepare."
In order to be healthy, you must live healthy too. Don’t settle for grocery store produce. You don’t know how long it was on the truck before it hit your local grocery store’s shelf. Bring healthy means eating the freshest produce you can find.
Your First Trip to the Farmer’s Market
Eating healthy shouldn’t scare you. There are tons of easy ways to get fresh fruits and vegetables for less than what you’d pay at your local grocery store. Besides, don’t you want to know where your food is coming from? When you buy produce from the supermarket, you run the risk of selecting contaminated fruits and vegetables. You don’t know how long the “fresh” produce has traveled on the truck before hitting grocery store shelves.
To avoid produce woes at supermarket chains, shop smart at your local farmer’s market.
Know what’s in season with this interactive and easy-to-use tool.
Rise and shine and hit your local farmer’s market first thing in the morning when the market opens. This is when you’ll find the best produce!
Go often and develop a relationship with your local farmers. You may even be able to cut a deal if they see you often enough. Or at the very least, they may be willing to let you in on some unique recipes or cooking tips!
Plan ahead and bring a cooler so your delicious finds won’t spoil before you hit your driveway.
Scope it out before you buy. Different venders will have different prices.
Have fun with it and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Farmers will appreciate your curiosity. Pick out something you’ve never tried before too. You may even find your new favorite fruit or vegetable.
Make it a family affair and bring your kids. There’s no better way to introduce children to healthy eating than to bring them to a farmer’s market. They’ll love picking something out. You could even show them how to cook with it later—if they’re old enough. Also, allow them to talk to the farmer’s. It’s important for your little ones to ask questions too!
Bring your own bags, baskets or boxes. You never know how much you’re going to buy—especially if it’s your first time—so it’s better to be safe rather than sorry.
Bring cash and especially small bills. The farmer’s will appreciate it and you’ll spend more time shopping and less time cashing out. Some farmers have credit card machines, but you never know and again—it’s better to be safe rather than sorry.
Farmer’s markets vs. your local super market
It’s rare for local produce growers to mention the cost of shopping at their local farmer’s market. Stacey Jones and her Seattle University Business-Statistics class wondered why.
They compared prices for local organic produce from the Broadway Farmer’s Market with that sold at the local QFC supermarket and Madison Market, one of several cooperatively owned grocery stores in the region.
The farmers market was slightly less expensive pound for pound, on average, for 15 items that included Fuji apples, red potatoes, baby carrots, spinach and salad mix.