When health and money values conflict…

I just hate it when my values conflict with each other. I like to eat healthy and inexpensively. Sometimes it’s easy, like buying fruits and vegetables, grains, and lean meats at the grocery and making simple, great tasting meals my way, instead of paying extra for convenience meals.

But sometimes it is hard. Why are the big bags, value meals, Big Gulp, Big Grab, Big Mac the best value (in the sense you get more for your money)? Why can’t a salad and a bottle of water be made into a value meal? Why do I have to buy a kid’s meal to get a healthy portion and a lower price?

Part of the reason so many of us struggle with weight issues is that you can buy sugared and salty snacks and candy so many places, and the size of the packages just continue to grow. Yes, the larger sizes cost more, but we are getting more, so we think it is a bargain. Then we eat the whole thing and get excess calories.

It’s the same conflict with the 100-calorie snack packs. My eating healthy value says that’s the way to go, but my eating inexpensively value reminds me that I am paying more.

So what’s the answer? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue and your solutions to this dilemma.

-pointers from Peggy

27 thoughts on “When health and money values conflict…

  1. It costs more to eat healthy because it costs more to make it. A salad is more expensive than fries. One way to cut costs is not buy bottled water but ask for a glass for water. Wendy’s lets you substitute a salad in a combo meal for free. There are ways to cut and still get what you want, but with salads those ways are fewer.

  2. I totally understand your conflict! The other day, I bought white bread because it was cheaper and then I thought, what the heck am I doing?! The price difference was greater than normal because they were out of some of their wheat selections, but when it comes down to it, I can’t feed that to my son.

    I’m still trying to figure out how I’m going to pull off eating healthy and inexpensively. I have my weaknesses though. Lately it’s the beefy five layer burito from Taco Bell. Only $1 and big enough you only need one and order it with a water. Beans are healthy right?!

  3. I think we could all return to eating more simply. Eat when we’re hungry, stop before we’re stuffed. Eat and prepare simple foods. Enjoy our food, preferably with others – not in a car.

  4. Mindful eating and health at every size paradigms help us learn to eat according to our internal signals of satiety and hunger and to truly appreciate food (see Linda Bacon’s website, SNE’s Weight Realities division and The Center for Mindful Eating). If we are able to help people learn to eat intuitively, then we can get back to buying the inexpensive larger sizes of quality foods knowing that we can trust our bodies to eat when they are hungry and stop when satisfied. I also think moving to a more sustainable eating pattern i.e., eating locally and purchasing food that is sustainably and ethically grown/raised also moves us in this direction.

  5. Peggy,
    I buy in big quantities – example: 1 pound of almonds from Costco and I bring them home and put into snack size baggies to grab when I need them. I have done the same thing with other large bags, such as trail mix.I also do the same thing with my leftovers from dinner. I have small containers that hold exactly what I need. I measure the amount I need, date/label and put in the refrigerator or freezer for later use.
    Thanks for your helpful hints.

  6. Make your own “100 calorie packs” with “snack-sized” zipper bags or (for greener snacks) small re-usable containers.

    There are many websites listing amounts and measurements for fruits and vegetables and more. For prepared foods, usually all you need is the label (and sometimes a calculator).

    For example, if six wheat peanut butter crackers is a 200 cal serving, I pack three to get 100 cal.

    If X number of anything (nuts, crackers, etc) are Y number of calories, then Y divided by X will give you the calories per “thing.” Then add up the calories for individual pieces until you figure out how many will equal 100 cal.

    For the cracker example above (which most can calculate without help), it would go this way:

    200 cal divided by 6 crackers = 33.33 cal

    33.33 cal + 33.33 cal + 33.33 cal = 100 cal

    Therefore, 3 crackers = 100 cal.

    Obviously, if you are away from home and only have one snack pack in your bag, it’s easy to eat just one. But, I also tell my program participants, even if you eat one pack and go back and get another, you are still aware of how many calories you are consuming. And (even though you end up with 200 or even 300 instead of 100 cal for that snack) you’re still a lot less likely to eat half a large bag of SunChips or Cheetos or pretzels or whatever.

  7. I will buy the larger bag of preztels, and measure out the serving into indivual bags, or containers, depending on my space available. Then it is quick to grab a bag, know that I won’t eat too much – and I feel FULL because I ate the whole bag! 🙂

  8. this is one of those things you run across everyday but probably dont realize on a regular basis. excellent post! oh and yea i agree about the 100 calorie snack packs…eating healthier cost more.

  9. This certainly isn’t a new idea, but I buy snack size baggies and make my own 100 calorie (or at least single serving) packs out of the larger, more economical bags. I do this for my kids too with their lunches as their school lunch is just awful. It helps us all with portion control.

  10. Peggy,What you say is true so in class we discussed how to make our own snack bags to carry with us or put on the table when playing bridge-ie nut packs for office drawer.

  11. I like the idea of 100 calories but the cost seems too much. In fact, any smaller package items (animal crackers, crackers, cookies) cost more so here is how I keep it in my budget.
    I buy a box, crackers or cookies, items for trail mix, and put them in smaller snack bags so we have the portion amount and they are ready and convenient!

    I give this tip in my classes I teach. Thanks for your great tid bits!


  12. When I was working as an outpatient dietitian, I would encourage clients to “Share It or Save It”. Get a doggy bag and bring some home or share part of your dinner with the people you are eating with.

    If you have favorite crackers, make your own “snack packs”. Open the box of crackers and take ziploc bags (snack-size). Put a handful of crackers in each ziploc. Then put the ziploc bags back in the cracker box. You can see at a glance which crackers you have. The crackers are ready to go as part of your lunch or snack supply.

    More recently, I have leaned more heavily on Ellyn Satter’s approach to healthy eating. I first heard of her work with children as “Division of Responsibility for Feeding” when I worked for the WIC and Maternal, Child Health Programs. In infancy parents are responsible for providing appropriate food (e.g. breastmilk, infant formula and adding appropriate solids), but infants need to be fed on demand. After infancy,parents are responsible for what, when and where foods are offered for meals/snack. Children are responsible for deciding how much and whether to eat.

    See http://www.ellynsatter.com for many resources. One of my favorite books that Ellyn has written is “Secrets to Feeding a Healthy Family”. Ellyn is a dietitian and social worker with decades of experience working with individuals and families of all ages and stages of life. “Secrets” discusses Division of Responsibility, as well as the importance of adults eating well and enjoying their food. Having regular mealtimes (and snacks if needed) is important for adults and children. Including a variety of foods is important–not everything has to be fat-free or low fat. A healthy diet can include some higher fat foods. Sometimes the public loses sight of that. I’ve seen people just give up and throw caution to the wind. Or they get so “fat- and calorie- phobic” that find they just can’t enjoy eating anymore.

    I’m not doing Ellyn’s book justice, as I’m trying to consolidate this information as I write back quickly. Hopefully some of these ideas are helpful. I think you have a fun job writing these notes for weekly email. I would love to visit with you more about this sometime if you are interested.


  13. Hi Peggy! I totally understand how you feel! I just try to cook more myself, that’s all. I know, it’s old-fashioned, but it saves money 🙂

    Good luck!

  14. I allways advice people to go to markets and buy there healthy and fresh fruit and vegetables! That’s a great way to keep your money in the pocket and even be able to create the best recipes

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