Can we afford to eat healthy?

The ideal way to eat healthy and to keep fit would be to eat all organic, but that just doesn’t suit my pocketbook. Some say that organic food is not priced too high, it’s the “other” food that is priced unrealistically cheap. I’m not sure about that one. My grocery bill is pretty high and I eat plenty of the “other.”

What I do know is that production costs are higher in organic farming. Crops are grown without pesticides and artificial fertilizers, and are processed without food additives. Farmers have to weed crops by hand which is more time-consuming and expensive, and cattle are reared without antibiotics and growth hormones. So, all of that adds up and the high costs end up in the market for the consumer to consume.

Instead of buying organic foods to cook at home, I have some thoughts about eating with less fat and less calories, although many times I do not stick to that plan and sometimes they are just thoughts. I love tuna fish and it’s healthy until the mayo is added. I’ve used the “lite” mayo before, but the sandwich doesn’t taste as good. Fish is generally good for you and my mom said it was brain food. I really need to eat a lot of it.

Shake ‘N Bake your chicken or bake it in the over instead of frying it. That’s definitely better for you and you don’t get that mouth-watering, crispy, gotta have more flavor as if you had fried it with Whistlestop Cafe chicken batter. I wouldn’t suggest the green tomatoes being baked also, though, if you are going for that real southern fried green tomato taste.

Basically any kind of bean is good for you. Beans, beans, the magical fruit…ah, never mind. I think that green beans are basically fat free and you can stick them in soups and stews, too. Chicken has less fat than red meat. Chicken is not a cheap food, but it does go on sale about every week at some local grocery store.

Oatmeal is good for you and brown rice is also. Those items are reasonably priced, but I wouldn’t suggest eating them together. Low-fat, low-sugar cereals are available and if you need it sweeter you can always add a sugar substitute. One can also always pick a lower-fat yogurt than reach for that rich, yummy ice cream.

Fruits and vegetables are basically very good for you. They say to go for anything that’s a rich yellow, orange, or red color. I’d eat more red apples except for the fact that delicious ones are normally $1.79 a pound. Pick out a nice hefty one and you’ve spent two bucks. But, I digress.

Eating out is a possibility. According to the latest issue of Health magazine, America’s Top 10 Healthiest Fast Food Restaurants are:

Panera Bread
Jason’s Deli
Au Bon Pain
Noodles and Company
Corner Bakery Cafe
Atlanta Bread
Einstein Bros.
Taco Del Mar

Panera Bread, Jason’s Deli, Atlanta Bread, and McDonald’s are in our general area. I believe there is one Au Bon Pain (which roughly translated means “with good bread”) in Auburn (on the campus) and that restaurant emphasizes lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains; and specializes in sandwiches, soups, salads, and yogurt.

I guess at McDonald’s if you stick to the lower-calorie, lower-fat menu items, you’re okay. Think about that the next time you enter a McDonalds’s and the smell of Big Macs seep way up into your nostrils. They do say that the small hamburger and small fries is exactly 500 calories. Add a diet soda or water, and there is your low-calorie meal.

Some of their wraps are also lower in caloric intake, and one can always substitute a side salad for a fry if you only use a half pack of salad dressing. I guess that means you only eat half a salad,too. You could also try an Egg McMuffin without the cheese and butter and that would be less than 8 grams of fact. The grilled dhicken sandwich would be better for you than the fried chicken sandwich. Or you may just want to have a McDonald’s triple thick strawberry shake (about 730 calories in the 21 ounce cup) and nothing else.

Boy, I’m hungry.

Editorial by Melissa Parker

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