Healthy Food at All Costs

US News

It's time to put up or shut up. But that doesn't mean you have to go for broke eating healthy. The myth that eating health is too costly is just that: a myth. Here's the truth behind the lies about healthy eating and what it will cost you.

When it comes to eating healthy, decision is the ultimate power. Make the decision to lead a healthy lifestyle and become powerful instead of powerless.

The Money

I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say, "fast food is the cheapest option in my neighborhood," or "I really can't afford to eat healthy right now." The fact is a $2 bag of brown rice, $15 package of chicken and $10 in bulk veggies can feed a family of four for an entire week! This option costs much less than a $4 fast food meal each weeknight (if you can find a fast food meal that cheap these days).

Get real. There are far too many programs, web apps and meal plans that will literally show you how to eat healthy on a budget, so don't knock it until you actually try it!

The Time

"I don't have time," you say? Please... do I really have to list all the screen time on the Internet we use up doing absolutely nothing for our health? Not mention our drive time and leisure time going to waste.

Incorporate planning for meals into your daily routine, and multi-task when you can. Cooking takes up valuable time, so if you are working hard throughout the week, I suggest preparing meals in bulk on a day off, and keeping a go-to list of quick recipes for breakfast, lunch or dinner so you can make healthy meals on the go.

[Read: Change Your Life in 8 Minutes.]

The Taste

"These vegetables are bland," It continues to shock me how many people dislike whole foods and exchange them for processed ones. But guess what all of the processed foods try to mimic? The taste of whole foods.

Skittles are fruit-flavored, but a natural kiwi, mango, and peach are so tasty without any additives. Tossed vegetables with herbs and olive oil are divine, but we give them up for bland-tasting fried potatoes drenched in ketchup - talk about bland.

Don't believe the hype: Healthy food IS tasty, and unhealthy food is some of the most bland stuff on the planet. That's why the ample amounts of salt, sugar and other additives have to be added to processed foods - they don't have any flavor! So don't get fooled. Taste can be altered. Just take the time to find the best recipes for healthy foods that meet your taste expectations.

Grocery Shopping Tips

-- Avoid the white devils - white sugar, white milk, white rice, white salt and white flour.

-- Focus on lean, healthy protein like chicken or fish, loads of fruits, veggies and nuts and a huge helping of H2O!

-- Stick to brown or wild rice if necessary, and choose almond milk over dairy when you can.

-- Use unprocessed, Himalayan salt and a healthy dose of fresh herbs and spices for seasoning.

-- Purchase healthy fats like coconut oil, egg and avocado.

[See: Unusual Uses for Avocados.]

The Steps to Eating Healthy at All Costs

1. Skip the four-syllable ingredients: If you can't imagine your breakfast bar growing out of the ground, falling off of a tree or running around in the wild, it probably isn't a whole food! A nutrition label with ingredients you can't pronounce is a processed mess you should avoid. My rule of thumb: three ingredients or less, period.

2. Stay away from packages: A general rule of thumb is the more packaging, the more processed. If you can pick up the piece of produce or have the butcher pass you the meat, you are in good shape. Frozen, dried, canned, bagged or boxed food is usually not whole food. Be very wary of terminology like "all-natural," "natural-tasting," "lite" or "low-calorie." Whole foods don't need a marketing campaign; they're healthy, and you know it.

3. Check the expiration date: If the product doesn't expire until next year and is from a land far, far away, it is likely chock full of nasty preservatives. If it doesn't expire on the shelf for months and months, what makes you think your stomach will easily digest it?

[Read: High Net-Gain Nutrition.]

The first step is always the hardest because it takes a few weeks for your body to get used to the new way of eating, and many people have withdraws and cravings in the beginning. Instead of focusing on the food, focus on your positivity and health, and keep smiling. After four weeks of eating healthy, you will become happier and more energized. In twelve weeks, your family and friends will notice the difference and need to know your secret.

You are what you eat. Sound off...

If you had to list your "ingredients" to the world, what would be on your label?

[See: 8 Ways to Eat Well and Save Money at Home.]

Hungry for more? Write to eatandrun@usnews.com with your questions, concerns, and feedback.

Well known for his work as a trainer on NBC's The Biggest Loser, Brett Hoebel is one of New York and Los Angeles' most popular fitness and nutrition experts. In addition to his certifications in nutrition, yoga and functional training, Hoebel was trained in martial arts (Capoeira and Muay Thai kickboxing) and has a pre-med, neuroscience background. He is the founder of Hoebel Fitness, a body-mind approach dedicated to inspiring healthy living, as well as the creator of in-home lifestyle-fitness programs RevAbs, reVamp, and his new 20 Minute Body program to debut in 2014. Hoebel believes in "fitness from within," acknowledging that a healthy life starts by changing yourself from the inside out.

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