As a personal trainer I have come across many people who make countless excuses as to why they haven't, or in their opinion, can not succeed in terms of living a healthy lifestyle. Not enough time to workout, not enough money to afford a gym pass, not enough energy to be active, the list goes on. One of the most common excuses I hear is that related to healthy dieting. When I speak of healthy dieting, be mindful, I am referring to dieting in terms of making healthy eating choices and not starving yourself or getting on a celery diet for a week. Many people say that the reason they can not eat healthier foods is simply because healthier foods is significantly more expensive than unhealthy foods. They claim that the cost of eating healthy is too much, therefore they are forced by finances to eat unhealthy. I decided I would do research on Louisiana State University's campus in order to see why this may be.
I began my research by creating polls that asked four questions pertaining to what the participants were eating, where they were eating and what they thought about eating healthy. The results of my poll of 100 students showed that 64% of them agreed that healthy foods were significantly more expensive than unhealthy foods. On the other hand 36% disagreed and thought that healthy dieting was not significantly more expensive. This made me realize that according to my sample many people believe this statement to be true that healthy foods are just too much to afford.
Question two asked the participants what played the most important role in their grocery shopping decisions. The results of this showed price to be the biggest role for 45% of people. The taste of the food was the most important for 30% of people. The healthiness of the food was most important for 18% of people and convenience was most important for 7% of people. These results showed that although people believe healthy food is more expensive, they base what they buy on the price and the taste of the food before looking at healthiness. Question three asked the participants how often they ate fast food in a week. The results showed that 40% of people ate fast food 3-5 times per week, 7% of people ate fast food over 6 times per week, and 32% ate fast food 1-2 times per week, and 15% ate fast food less than 1 time per week. This information told me that the majority of people ate 3-5 meals from fast food places per week. The last question I asked played a huge role in my research. I asked participants how often they cooked their meals that didn't include instant foods. The results of this question showed that an overwhelming 55% of participants only cooked 1-2 meals a week. To add to this 34% of participants only cooked 3-4 times per week, 3% cooked 5-6 times per week, and 11% cooked over 7 times per week. These results showed me that the majority of participants did very little cooking other than instant foods such as Ramen Noodles or Kraft Easy Mac.
From my data I collected I was able to determine that based on my participants, although the majority claimed that healthy food was more expensive, the healthiness of the food came third in the list of importance when grocery shopping. Also I was able to determine that the majority of the participants didn't cook their own food and ate fast food 3-5 times per week. With the majority of people not cooking and eating fast food 3-5 times per week the cost of eating healthy would be more expensive. If you do not know how to cook trying to find healthy instant food would be a challenge in itself much less trying to find healthy instant food at a good price. On the other hand, if you know how to cook, it is much cheaper to buy grocery and prepare meals that are healthy and save money in the long run with left overs.
Many people get caught up in the gimmick that is Whole Foods and believe that the only place to get healthy foods is a place called Whole Foods. You don't have to shop at Whole Foods in the organic aisle to be healthy, despite what many people think. Eating healthy is a matter of making good decisions over poor ones. For instance a 21 oz box of Cheerios is $3.98 and a 20.5oz box of Lucky Charms $4.18, one is a healthy choice the other is not. Another example would be Quaker's Instant Oatmeal over Poptarts. PopTarts are $3.68 for 8 packs of 2 and oatmeal is $3.65 for 22 packets. I could literally do this all do. A Mcdonald's Big Mac combo is approximately 7$ while a 4lb bag of chicken breast is the same price. A Hot N' Ready Little Caesars Pizza is $5.45 but a rotisserie chicken from Walmart is $4.95. We have healthy choices all around is if we are willing to look for them. A bag of frozen vegetables is $1.98 while a bag of chips is $2.00. The only time unhealthy foods are more expensive is when you are eating out and because that seems to be where the majority of people are eating their meals, they blame their poor eating habits on price. You can find healthy foods almost anywhere and you don't have to be rich to do so. In some instances healthy foods may be more but not as significant as people claim they are.
In conclusion I think that people believe that healthy foods are more expensive because they are not preparing the food themselves. With health not being a top priority when it comes to eating, people probably won't be inclined to eating healthy. If you enter a grocery store and first look for cheap food, then look for what is good and cheap that you do not have to cook. Chances are you won't find very healthy foods in that aisle, and you probably won't throw away your first two criteria for the third which is healthiness. People are buying what is cheap, good, and instant. This is the source of the problem that can only be adjusted by the actions of the consumers.