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Tips to navigate ‘barriers’ to eat healthy on a ‘tight budget’ from dietitian – Express

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The ‘biggest barriers’ to healthy eating

1. Accessibility to whole foods – from grocery store access to price tags

Gensler said “people often think that healthy eating requires using fresh, organic produce and organic products,” which “can be costly” and is “not accessible and affordable for everyone.”

She also notes that for consumers who live in food deserts — areas “without a nearby grocery store” — it is particularly “difficult” to “access whole grains, fruits and vegetables,” all of which are vital to a healthy, well-rounded diet.

2. Time to cook and shop

Additionally, she notes that people get overwhelmed by “complex recipes with lots of ingredients” that “can be costly and time consuming.”

How to ‘navigate the barriers’ to healthy eating

1. Shop at chain and dollar stores

These stores usually have cheap offerings, which will help to lower your overall grocery bill.

2. Purchase healthy shelf-stable and frozen items 

In addition to saving money, this can also “help avoid food waste” due to its prolonged shelf life. Experts recommend buying these six items frozen.

3. ‘Go in with a list and stick to it’

If you know yourself to be someone who gets tempted by the ample array of “unhealthy, convenience foods” available at the supermarket, Gensler recommends “going in with a list and sticking to it.”

It can be tempting to opt for the “unhealthy, convenience foods,” which is why Gensler says creating a list in advance with ingredients for “simple, realistic throw-together recipes” — “steering clear of complex recipes” — is the best way to approach your annual grocery shop.

4. Stick to ‘simple, realistic throw-together’ recipes 

Noting how people get overwhelmed by complicated recipes and often lack the time and energy to make them, she recommends finding easy recipes to fall back on when in a bind.

“Find a few simple, easy meal ideas to make at home, saving money and time, which can help with sticking to healthy eating habits,” she says.

She also notes that “following popular diet trends” and “fads” are not necessarily “safe or recommended” due to their “restrictiveness” and lack of “sustainability,” which is why she says “the best nutrition advice is the advice an individual can follow day-in and day-out.”

5. Refer to the following list of affordable ‘healthy dietitian-endorsed foods’ 

The following dietitian-endorsed foods are great staples that consumers can rely on and throw together to make simple, healthy recipes.

  • Plain oatmeal and whole grain breakfast cereals
  • Peanut or nut butter, nuts, and seeds
  • Whole grain or pulse-based pasta
  • Dried or canned pulses (dry peas, beans, lentils, and chickpeas), no-salt-added
  • Canned vegetables, no-salt-added
  • Canned fruit, packed in juice or water or fruit purees with no added sugar
  • Whole grain rice such as brown and wild rice and quinoa
  • Shelf-stable plant-based milk
  • Whole grain and whole wheat bread and wraps
  • Dried fruit with no added sugar or fat
  • Freeze-dried vegetables
  • Dried herbs and spices
  • Plain frozen vegetables and fruit

6. Focus on ‘whole foods with fiber, lean sources of protein and calcium-rich foods’

Fiber-rich foods

  • Pulses
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Nut butters
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables

Lean sources of protein that are calcium-rich

  • Dairy
  • Plant-based yogurts
  • Plant-based milks

7. Avoid ‘refined’ foods such as refined breads, sugary drinks, and processed meats

Foods to avoid

  • Refined grains such as white flour products, including breads and pastas
  • Chips
  • Sugary drinks
  • Processed meats
  • Cookies and refined, sugary baked goods
  • Salt-and-sugar-laden convenience foods

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