Nutrition guidance recommends that a 2,000-calorie diet include 2 cups of fruit, 2.5 cups of vegetables, and a minimum of 3 ounces of whole grains. Instead, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) finds American adults consuming about 1 cup of fruit, 1.6 cups of vegetables, and 0.8 ounces of whole grains each day.
Cost has been raised as a possible barrier to a healthy diet. However, both healthy and less-healthy diets are available at low and high cost, suggesting that cost is not the only, or even the most important, barrier.
Here we have a very detailed article that attempts to answer an important question: is it more expensive to eat healthy. To us, the answer is always YES. If you spend an extra dollar on good food now, you will assuredly save that dollar in terms of your health. Let’s face it, doctor’s appointments are expensive. The longer you can go without needing a doctor, the wealthier you’ll be.
This article, however, goes a step further. It asks whether it’s possible to eat healthy on the cheap — without having to do any magical calculations that involve future, hypothetical healthcare costs.
Here, the answer also, is yes. Here are the highlights:
- Most Americans across all income levels consume poor diets.
- Behavior changes, such as preparing food at home instead of eating out, are associated with improvements in diet quality.
- To realize the much larger improvements in diet quality required to meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, many Americans would need to reallocate their food budgets, spending a larger share on fruits and vegetables and a lower share on protein foods and foods high in solid fats, added sugars, and sodium.
There you have it, folks. You’ve got to spend more of your money on fruits and vegetables. Science tells us that half of every bite you take should be a vegetable. And for that to happen, half your grocery cart should be filled with vegetables.
Next time you go to the grocery store, bring four reusable bags and fill them this way:
- Bag 1: Fill (overflow) with vegetables.
- Bag 2: Fill (overflow) with half fruits and half vegetables.
- Bags 3 & 4: Fill with anything you want (meat, bread, dairy, junk).