I am a firm believer in introducing more and more plant-based foods into diets. This won’t only be beneficial for the planet but also for our health. As a nutritional therapist, my role is not to “convince” clients to go vegan or vegetarian but to balance their diet and suggest changes to achieve health goals….
5 Easy Tips For Eating Better And Spending Less
by Dave Stansbie
When talking about nutrition, budget is a significant barrier – many people think a healthy diet must be expensive, but this is very far from the truth!
While you might think that to lead a healthy lifestyle, you should shop only at Wholefoods, but actually this is not true. Below are the top tips I also follow myself to eat better and spend less:
Eat seasonal fruit and vegetables
When in-season, fruit and vegetables are cheaper, richer in vitamins and antioxidants and a much better alternative to out-of-season imported goods, which have been picked unripe. In-season and locally grown produce also tastes way better and is more sustainable….win-win combination! The best way to source such products is heading to local farmers’ markets, foraging or subscription boxes.
Ferment or freeze extra vegetables
If you buy in-season fruit and veg, you might be overloaded with one kind of produce. The same thing happens if you decide to go and pick berries or mushrooms. The best solution is to ferment those produce – they will last for the months to come and will be an excellent aid for your gut health.
The best-known fermented produce is sauerkraut, which is cabbage preserved in salty water for some weeks. Cabbage is not the only vegetable that can be fermented, most vegetables are suitable for this purpose! Think about carrots fermented with ginger, cauliflower and turmeric or wild garlic. The process is easy and will minimise food waste. Check out this BBC article for tips and ideas.
Another idea is to freeze extra produce – berries freeze exceptionally well, as well as ripe blended bananas (will become like and ice-cream!) Freezing in-season produce will allow you to enjoy them even when they are out-of-season, saving money while still having a food full of nutritional goodness.
Buy frozen veg
Many people shy away from frozen staples like spinach, peas or broccoli…for no reason. Vegetables are frozen as soon as they are picked, and so retain many vitamins and antioxidants. Many vitamins and nutrients can decay rapidly when exposed to heat during transportation and lights in supermarket aisles. Studies show frozen peas have a higher amount of vitamin C than fresh ones, as vitamin C can oxidise quite quickly when exposed to heat.
Include legumes in your diet
Legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils) are real superfoods: packed with fibre, minerals, polyphenols and vitamins are also an excellent source of protein. And they are really cheap.
Legumes are rich in proteins, iron and zinc, usually found in meat. Swapping some of your meat intake with legumes will still ensure an adequate protein intake at a lower price.
Substituting some meat with legumes will also help you reach the NHS recommended target of 30g of fibre per day. Fibre is essential to feed the “good” bacteria in our gut, which can have a positive impact on many aspects of our health – from the immune system, to metabolism to neurotransmitter production.
Studies associate regular legume intake can improve blood sugar control, and swapping some animal protein with plant-based ones can also be protective towards cardiovascular health.
The fear of being bloated prevents many people from enjoying legumes, but a piece of simple advice will be to start integrating them slowly into your diet to then increase the quantity and, most important, wash out all the tin water very carefully before eating! If cooking legumes from dry, soak them overnight with some bicarbonate and when cooking them add some nori seaweed to the water, as this will reduce bloating when eating them.
If eating fish, consider different varieties
Many people refrain from eating fish as it can be expensive. Fish, especially oily fish, is an excellent source of omega3 fatty acids and lean proteins. Omega3 fatty acids are associated with lower inflammation, improved cardiovascular health and a better blood lipid profile.
The best-known oily fish is salmon, which can be pricey. A great alternative is trout, which has a similar taste and nutritional profile but is way cheaper.
Oily fish such as sardines and mackerel are cheaper than salmon, and are not as intensively farmed, making it a great choice as the fish would have been exposed to fewer antibiotics.
Small fishes are a great choice as they are less contaminated with mercury and dioxins, which can be toxic to the human nervous system and can accumulate in large amounts in bigger fishes.