Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Healthy Eating & Long Term Savings!

If you’re a regular reader to Beyond Dollars & Sense, then you know that this blog is about personal finance and money-saving tips. So as you read this posting, you might be asking yourself what does healthy eating have to do with saving money? Well, the answer’s rather obvious; eating better saves trips to the doctor’s office. It also limits the incidence of ailments we might attribute to “aging” instead of where many of the physical debilitations we experience come from as we get older…our diets. I got the idea for this peace, not from my own healthy-inspired diet, but from deleting old programs from my DVR. One of these programs was a piece from a PBS (Public Broadcasting Network) offering airing sometime last year called “The Blood Sugar Solution with Dr. Mark Hyman.” Something about the title made me decide to watch it before deleting it from my cable box.
 As I watched it, I realized that many of the health suggestions he had offered as an alternative to the high sugar diets we are accustomed to here in America—responsible for many of our obesity epidemic—I had already been enacting in my personal life. I find that I have much more energy for my workouts, as well as just feeling better knowing that I am not clogging my arteries up with MacBurgers and/or candy.
What I decided to do was to transcribe the words and thoughts of Dr. Hyman’s suggestions during this program as I re-watched the more relevant segments of his PBS special. The crux of Hyman's thesis is that the American addiction to sugar--the processed bran--is the source of many health issues we experiences. He puts forth a new ethos of thinking insomuch as personal health and eating practices.
My personal suggestion is that enacting these practices in your personal life can’t hurt; you will definitely feel better, healthier. And it’s a sure bet that you will indeed save money in potential visits to the doctor’s office.

Check your insulin, not just your blood sugar (insulin is the fat-storage hormone). Check your cholesterol (ask for the NMR test, a newer more accurate cholesterol testing available). Learn to eat your medicine.
Food is the best medicine, I don’t just preach it, I live it.

In addition, Dr. Hyman's "Blood Sugar Solution" serves up some absolute starters one needs in order to kick-start a healthy diet (and potential heath care savings).

Dr. Hyman's 10 rules for eating healthy for life.

1. Don’t eat foods with a label. Avoid foods in a box, package, or can.

2. If a food has a label, it should have fewer than 5 ingredients. Beware of food with health claims on the label. They are usually bad for you (usually, not always. Use clear judgment on this one; the label of ingredients should be the deciding factor).

3. Stay away from those deadly white powers (sugar, flour, etc. As any good nutritionist worth their title will tell you, bleached foods are not overly healthy for you). They function like sugar in the human body.

4. Throw out any food with “high fructose corn syrup” on the label. This is the main ingredient in what Dr. Hyman calls, “liquid calories” (the calories we ingest should not have their source in liquids because they are usually sugar-based. This is the number one cause of obesity in America). Don’t drink your calories. They will pour on the pounds.

5. Throw out any food with the word hydrogenated on the label (an indicator of trans-fats).

6. Throw out or do not use any highly-refined oils such as corn or soy oils. And avoid any fried foods. Instead, use olive oil (my personal favorite) and/or coconut oil.

7. An old standard…avoid any foods with ingredients that you either cannot pronounce or no not recognize. They are usually chocked full of chemicals.

8. Another old standard (that people seem to forget)…avoid foods with preservatives, additives, colorings, dyes, or “natural” flavorings such as “MSG (Monosodium Glutamate).

9. Avoid foods with artificial sweeteners of any kind (they make you hungrier, as well as slow down the metabolism). Not a great strategy for weight loss; even I knew this one (ever notice how people who drink “diet” sodas tend to purchase or drink more of them?).

10. Try to stick to plant-based foods. One tip to remember: shop around the perimeter of a supermarket. This is where most of the more natural (i.e., “real foods”) are located. The aisles tend to be the location of processed foods.

Dr. Hyman suggest that we have plenty of other healthy eating options (since, after reading the list you no-doubt think there is hardly anything else left to eat). He suggest that natural sources of carbohydrates such as vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts (where I also get sources of protein, along with tofu), while grains, or beans. He also suggest eating foods with more natural (a relative term to be sure with a non-meat-eater like myself) sources of proteins such as (again) beans, nuts, lean chicken, and fish (with the latter, do your research to make sure it’s not a species of fish prone to retaining man-made substances found in water such as mercury. My personal favorite is salmon, which as high in Omega 3’s “good fats”).
Finally, he says that that we are consider foods that contain “slow carbohydrates,” sources of natural energy that rise slowly in the human body, not cause metabolic “spikes” such as processed sugars. These include brown rice, quinoa, and sweet potatoes.
 Watching this special again, I picked up something else that’s a potential money-saver; the timing of when we eat. When we eat in the mornings, we are less likely to eat heavy meals during the day (I myself am guilty of the opposite. I only just started eating in the mornings during the last 2 weeks…and I find myself more able to resists buying snacks, even healthy ones, later in the day…a known budget-buster). Eating later or at night forces our bodies to store calories instead of burning them—one of the reasons I sandwich my workouts both just as I wake up and just before I head to sleep.
Eating healthy in one of those areas in life where we don’t think to consider how it can save us money. But in pretty much the same way that something as simple as deleting old television programs can lead to inspired thinking, eating healthy can lead to bigger deals, and bigger long-term savings in a time where health care costs are rising…and where it becomes fiscally necessary to save a buck where we can, any way we can.

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