Does it Cost Extra to Eat Healthy?

Healthy eating definitely costs more than eating fast food and cooking ramin noodles all the time. The cost is somewhat insignificant at first look, but if you consider that healthy vegetables and fruits can cost up to $1.50 a day more than processed foods, this can add up to a substantial amount of money a year for one person. Times that by the number of people in your family.  

The price in healthy foods is high due to the production and cultivation. Skinless chicken and lean meat require more work at the processing plant. Agricultural policies favor producing less healthy foods and going for the high volume and inexpensive cuts.

Healthy eating can be a barrier if you are on a fixed low income. But healthy eating can also stop the medical burden of obesity and medical costs. By eating poor diets the country is charged as much as $200 billion in medical costs (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

Some solutions to helping purchase healthier foods can be a “health” tax or taking taxes off healthy fruits and vegetables, grains and dairy and placing higher taxes on processed foods. Using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) can help emphasize purchasing healthier options. However with the cut of $5 billion in fiscal years 2014, that might be a bit difficult.

People make poor food choices due to lack of willpower and economics. Increasing the nutrients of potassium, calcium, vitamin D and fiber need to be a part of daily consumption. Researchers polled shoppers and found that getting enough potassium adds $380 a year to the average food bill. Getting enough vitamin D and fiber could add up to $127 a year. Most diets do contain sufficient calcium, but the other vitamins and minerals that are lacking help with calcium absorption.

Food costs would rise if these nutrients were added. If you add sugar and fat to your present diet, food costs would shrink. If you increase your sugar consumption by 1 percent, you food costs will fall by 7 percent. Calories from saturated fats would give food costs the opportunities to fall by 28%. No wonder we eat fats and sugars!

With the cost and projected cost of eating healthy choices are taken away. Many Americans want to eat healthy but cannot afford to do so. No matter how many good food campaigns are launched, there will always be those who cannot afford healthy grains, fruits and vegetables. The government subsidies gain producers and avoids fruit and vegetable growers. Corn is plentiful and cheap and causes obesity issues.

It seems strange, however that while it costs more to eat healthy it is surprising that the fruit high in potassium, bananas, is often ignored for higher priced chips and soda. Potatoes and beans are also rich in potassium and are not high ticket items at the store. Price your “treats” and then price fruit. You might be surprised what you find.

Convenience is also a factor when shopping for meals on a budget. Processed foods and frozen entrees are much cheaper than buying fresh ingredients and cooking them yourself. You tend to swing by a convenient fast food restaurant and choose from the dollar menu. Much more convenient than making your own hamburgers and very unhealthy.

All it really takes is a mindset and an attitude change. Eat healthier and save on medical costs. Have more energy to take on a second job if you must by eating healthy. Stop with the excuses and lose the weight. After all is cost the only factor you use to not eat healthy?


HealthStatus has been operating since 1998 providing the best interactive health tools on the Internet, millions of visitors have used our health risk assessment, body fat and calories burned calculators. The HealthStatus editorial team has continued that commitment to excellence by providing our visitors with easy to understand high quality health content for many years.

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