When we talk about healthy lifestyles we sometimes forget that there are aspects that are a luxury, while some things may be argued for as an investment, other things may also be described as a luxury.
For me a gym membership is an investment, but having one is a luxury for others.
When it comes to food, I will always remind you that you don’t need protein bars or powder to be a healthy person and to reach your goals. You certainly don’t need organic produce or grass fed meat to live a healthy life either. I will also remind you that there are some misconceptions that you need to throw out so you can make healthier choices without feeling the pain in your wallet.
In May, I met with the public health director in a town near me and we discussed what I can do to help them and create more connections for health coaching. I’m excited that I’m the health coach for their farmer’s market this summer where I will provide recipes that incorporate items that can be found at the market (as well as at the store) along with nutrition information about some of the items that some may stay away from like breads and higher carbohydrate vegetables. I’m most excited about the recipes I’ve been putting together – some are recreations of things on here and others are a mosh posh of fresh ingredients – like salads topped with fruit and goat cheese. I also love the opportunity to talk to people about coaching, meal planning, meal prepping strategies and how small changes that fit into your life can make a difference.
All this excitement being said, I also know that a farmer’s market may be a luxury for some.
While in school, the concept of access sucked me in. Access to care, to food, to shelter. Access not just financially, but also geographically. Access is also social, which is connection to geographical location – think access to mental health professionals in a country where it’s taboo, it’s going to be limited.
Hunger and food access are an aspect of a healthy lifestyle that we don’t always talk about.
In the past year, as I’ve had more conversations with clients that help them navigate their food relationship, it’s become more clear to me that more individuals experience food insecurity, but may not have talked about it before out of shame or ignorance. Many of us have a hard time making connections of our past experiences to our current realities.
Last week, a story published on WBUR called The Ongoing Fight to End Hunger in Massachusetts stated that 1 in 11 people in Massachusetts struggle with hunger, 1 in 9 children struggles with hunger. You can actually check out Feeding America to learn about hunger in your state.
In 2017, Massachusetts introduce the Healthy Incentives Plan (HIP) – a reimbursement program for those who are already enrolled in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). HIP allows SNAP users to purchase fruits and vegetables from authorized vendors like community supposed agriculture (CSA) farm share programs, farmer’s markets and farm stands with the benefit that they will receive $1 for every $1 they spend up to a monthly limit.
- For 1-2 people, the limit is $40
- For 3-5 people, the limit is $60
- For 6+ people, the limit is $80
This doesn’t completely solve the problem of hunger or address high foods costs, but it does start to provide people with options and what they found over the past two fiscal year’s since it was implemented is that when given the option, people will buy fruits and vegetables. The program was so popular, that last April – a few months before the budget year was finished it ran out of money and a request for a supplemental budget was submitted.
So, a project I’m working on is how do I show you how you can also make healthier choices and stretch your money further. This is something I talk about with clients often – what is reasonable for their budget and for their goals.
I’d also argue that if you’re not investing in eating out then you can invest that money in weekly groceries. However, for some – it comes down to time. Time is money – it’s an investment too.
So these posts are going to be call Budgeted Eats. They may bounce around a bit, but I will share with you the full cost of an item, how much of it I used and the recipes.
We’re going to shop the sales, we’re going to get creative. Most importantly, food is going to be fun again because it should be.
We’ll also talk about meal prepping in a realistic way to save time and waste less too. You’re not going to have containers of the same meal for a week here.
I’m excited to share some of this with you because this is a challenge that many people face, but it’s a challenge that may be lessened. It’s also an excuse many people use and I think showing that food can be reasonably priced, taste good and healthful may make it easier to say yes to creating healthier routines and eating patterns.
All of us, myself included, can find ways to improve to ensure that we’re getting everything we need – physically and mentally. Food is fuel, it’s also for the soul.