A Fish Taco Rice Bowl with avocado and pickled onions, topped with cilantro lime dressing!
A perfect 30-minute dish to titillate the most picky healthy eater! As a holistic practitioner, I find that clients constantly bombard me with questions about healthy eating. Indeed, none of us can escape those colourful Instagram and Pinterest images of healthy nutrition consisting solely of kale, kombucha and quinoa bowls. Now, while I am a fan of such nutritious food choices, I know that some of these pricey items are inaccessible for many people. Mostly, these photogenic dishes make healthy eating appear as if it’s only for the privileged, whereas eating a whole host of healthy food items is actually achievable on any budget. For instance, check out this tasty, affordable, nutritious recipe for black bean chicken with rice.
Healthy Eating Choices For Budget-Conscious Consumers
- Healthy eating on Instagram is not always reality. Those fabulously put-together colourful bowls and gorgeous dishes on social media are highly memorable visuals. Despite what the Instagram poster says, most such recipes were not put together in mere minutes. Plus, they also tend to be quite one-note. Rarely do these healthy eating posters incorporate cultural dishes or get creative with affordable grocery staples. Some clients assume healthy eating is out of reach for them based on the social media images they’ve seen, which are generally curated by a small, mostly caucasian audience. However, Instagram is not always reality and healthy eating is possible no matter your ethnic background or income level. This message applies to more than just food posts. Know that the innumerable fitness and beauty posts are often curated by a similar audience.
- Modify foods instead of totally removing them. Whether they be churros, cheese blintzes or glazed doughnuts, any culture has its fair share of foods that are absolutely delicious they may not be the ideal healthy source of vitamins and minerals. Yet, instead of totally removing such foods from a diet, I recommend that you modify your cultural staples and favorite treats. For example, if nachos are a family tradition, switching up the toppings to incorporate more veggies like peppers, tomatoes, and onions. For candy fanatics, swap Reese’s Cups for a version with dark chocolate and almond butter. By modifying your favorite foods, you can get the necessary nutrients without sacrificing your budget, depriving your taste buds or totally erasing your beloved cultural traditions.
- Do not avoid the grocery store’s inner aisles or skip buying non-organic produce. Many clients say, “Wow, I have just seen the prices of avocados/organic lettuce/raspberries/cauliflower here and I simply can’t afford that.” While I definitely advocate for the produce section in the grocery store, budget-friendly, healthy options do exist there that may not fit the standard image of healthy living. Take frozen fruit for example! Frozen fruits may not be all that photogenic but they offer nutrients at a quarter of the cost and they last much longer! I also support portable snacks like almonds as they chock full of protein and fibre. A mere handful keeps you full and provides you with health benefits that other snacks won’t. Is buying non-organic fruits and veggies permissible for healthy eating? Absolutely! I am a huge fan of plant-based eating, so I fully believe that eating non-organic fruits and veggies trumps not eating any fruits and veggies at all.
- In the end, food is more than just its nutrient profile. Many clients apply negative words like “guilt” or “shame” to their food intake. Often, recipes with a rich cultural heritage have been passed down for generations but clients still fret about the fat, calories, sugar contained within a tasty ethnic dish. While I always advocate eating whole foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, I know that food is more than just its ingredients. Indeed, certain foods conjure up happy memories of days spent in a cozy kitchen with loving relatives or special events like weddings or baptisms. So, enjoy your favourite abuela’s incredible flan or dearly departed mom’s thick, crusty, deep dish apple pie. There’s plenty of room in a balanced diet for many types of food although the chocolate flan may not quite fit the #healthyeating hashtag on Instagram.