Tuesday, February 28, 2012

UPDATE FOR "EATING HEALTHY ON A BUDGET"


This is an update for my Eating Healthy on a Budget posting at the beginning of this year.  I eliminated all processed foods, and added meat back into my diet.  The reason I added meat back into my diet was to see if it would give me more energy after being a vegetarian for many years.  By saying I eliminated processed foods means I eliminated snacks, cold cereals, frozen foods such as pizza, french toast, waffles, egg rolls, vegetarian burgers, and tortillas, and soy products such as soy milk, ground meat, soy burgers, and sandwich meats. One of the reasons I added meat was for the protein after eliminating the processed soy products which I don't think are any healthier than other processed foods.  The test was to see if I would save money and feel better on a less processed diet.  So here are the results.

Lowering My Grocery Budget.

I definitely did save money.  My average monthly grocery bill for January and February decreased approximately 26% from my average monthly grocery bill for 2011.  This equates my average monthly grocery bill for 2011 being 36% higher than my average monthly grocery bill for 2012 so far.  How do I know that my average grocery bill for 2011 was 36% higher?  Because I tracked my spending for 2011.  Yes, the accountant in me never goes away.  This tells me that processed foods are very expensive.  It is not the meat in your diet but the prepared and processed foods that increase the amount you spend and apparently by a significant amount. 

Did Adding Meat to My Diet Increase Energy?

This is obviously no scientific study since I not only added meat but reduced processed food in diet.  We must clarify the quality of both the meat and the processed foods.  The meat I added was organic only.  No red meat was added.  It was mainly turkey and chicken.  I also averaged one serving (3-4 ounces) per day.   The processed food I ate was not nearly as processed as the average American eats.   I never ate anything with trans fats, high sodium, MSG, aspartame, preservatives, or dyes.  Some of the foods did contain sugar or other sweeteners but never artificial sweeteners.  My processed foods came mostly from Trader Joe's or Whole Foods.  In any event, they were still processed foods.  So did my energy increase and did I feel healthier?  I know this will come as a surprise to meat eaters but the answer is NO.  I did not feel healthier or have more energy.  As a matter of fact, I actually had slightly less energy because eating meat made me feel more bloated and I gained 5 pounds.  In less than 2 months I gained 5 pounds! 

What Should I Change in My Diet?

So will I continue to eat meat?  The answer is NO except maybe on rare occasions like Thanksgiving.  I did like the taste of soup with a little ground turkey so I may do that occasionally but maybe 1/3 of what I used during my experimental diet.   I plan on continuing to eat eggs and minimal amount of cheese along with nuts, seeds, and beans for protein.  I will not buy the "healthy" processsed foods I used to buy on a regular basis.  I believe eliminating the processed foods is the main reason my grocery bill decreased.  I will keep you posted on my monthly grocery bill. 

Should You Continue to Eat Meat?  

That I cannot answer without a nutritional consultation.  Everyone is biologically diffferent when it comes to nutrition.  What works well for one person does not always work well for another person.  Some people need meat for energy and for optimal health.  I do not.   My suggestion is to add ORGANIC meat to your diet for a couple of months if you have low energy and don't eat meat or take it out if you currently eat meat and have low energy.  Also make sure you are eating several fruits and vegetables a day and some healthy fats.  These foods are important for energy and a healthy immune system. 



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