Junk food vs good food, what’s more expensive?
MANILA, Philippines – If you're caught in the daily grind, it's easy to develop bad eating habits. We opt for fast food and quick fixes because they are convenient – most especially when we don’t have the time to pack lunches.
Besides, eating healthy can be expensive. Wrong.
Healthy eating does not necessarily mean having to dig deep into your pockets. With proper planning and the willingness to dedicate a bit of your time to really prepare and think about meals, your money can go longer way than spending for your daily quarter pounders and frappuccinos.
The junk in carbs, fat, and sugar
The Nutrition Source published by the Department of Nutrition and chaired by Dr Walter Willet of the Harvard School of Public Health, has published many studies and articles citing the negative effects that refined carbohydrates, fatty foods, and sugary drinks can have on your health.
When it comes to carbs, cutting quantity doesn’t matter as much as the quality of carbohydrates you choose to consume. Whole grains and brown rice are so much healthier than highly refined carbohydrates such as white rice, white bread and potatoes, which have been linked to weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease.
Potatoes, for example, have a high glycemic load which means it is the type of carbohydrate that digests quickly, causing surges in your blood sugar and insulin levels. This rapid rising and dipping of sugar levels can cause people to feel hungry again shortly after eating, which can lead to over eating.
Long-term effects of a potato-heavy diet can lead to weight gain and diabetes. In a study that tracked the lifestyle and eating habits of 120,000 men and women over the course of 20 years, a high consumption of fries and baked or mashed potatoes contributed to an increase in weight of about 3.4 pounds (fries) and 1.3 pounds (baked or mashed) every 4 years. A similar study also attributed an increase in fries consumption to a greater risk in diabetes, especially in women.
When it comes to fatty food there is a distinction between the bad kind of fat and the good kind. Bad fat includes saturated and trans fat (butter, cheese, red meat, processed food), which increase the risk of diseases. Good fat include monosaturated and polysaturated fats (nuts, fish, seeds, and vegetable oils) and consumption of these foods can help lower the risk of disease.
Sodas and other sugary drinks are major contributors to obesity. Replacing these drinks with fruit juice is not necessarily the healthier option as they still contain the same amount of sugar, albeit natural, and the same number of calories. Instead consume fresh fruits, which are high in fiber.
According to The Nutrition Source, an orange contains twice the amount of fiber and half the amount of sugar of a 12-ounce glass of orange juice. Furthermore, the regular consumption of sugary drinks can even stimulate your appetite for other high calorie sweet foods.
A study that involved 33,097 individuals and conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health showed that people with the genetic predisposition to obesity who consumed sugary drinks were more likely to be obese than those who did not. This implies that even if you are predisposed to obesity, you can curtail the effect with healthier eating choices.
High fat, sugar, and refined carbohydrates are elements commonly found in fast food items. As the evidence shows, these are something to consider with regards to health.
Eat healthier, feed a child
Futhermore the savings you make from switching to healthier alternatives will not only lessen the impact on your wallet and your waistline, it can also go into providing food for a hungry person in need.
According to the World Food Programme (WFP) it takes only $0.25 (P11.14) a day or $50 (P2,228.46) a year to feed a child a cup of nutritious food.
The Department of Education’s School-Based Feeding Programs (SBFP) allots a budget of P15 per child plus an added P1 for operational expenses for a total of 120 days of feeding. This amounts to about P1,920 per child for a year. (Read: School feeding programs for Filipino kids)
Bearing these facts in mind, we compared the prices of some typical fast food items and junk food staples to more nutritious products you can buy at your local grocery to see how much value for money (and health) you can get.
Adding up the expenses on the junk food side amounts to about P1,756 while the healthier alternatives amount to P1,128. That equates to savings of P602. With that money you can provide around 54 WFP meals or 40 DepEd meals that will feed a hungry child in need.
That's some food for thought the next time you crave for a fast food fix. – Rappler.com
Prices of the products may vary depending on the food retailer.