Good health and wellness are privileges that everyone deserves even in difficult economic times. With the hectic lifestyles that most of us lead these days, it is increasingly important to ensure that in spite of it all, healthy living is a priority; a healthy lifestyle can help you achieve your goals and it needn’t be expensive. Here are some tips for staying healthy on a budget.
A balanced diet
A menu that has a balanced diet is the most essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Manage your weekly grocery shopping with both health and a budget in mind planning your weekly needs in advance. By mapping out your meals with a menu, you will have an idea of what to buy. No matter how busy you are, try to keep abreast of what food and other grocery items are at home otherwise you are likely to be taken advantage of by some unscrupulous staff and end up spending much more than you should.
Shop with a list and stick to it. Without a list it is very tempting to meander through the aisles of the supermarket to fill your basket with all your favorite treats. We are always advised to eat fruits, leafy green vegetables, and whole grains rather than processed, sugary snacks. Choice vegetables and fruit can be quite expensive but are essential so try not to skimp on these. To include more vegetables and fruits in your diet, try and cut back on some of the excesses such as soft drinks, “junk food” and alcohol as they are high in calories and have little nutritional value.
Have you ever thought of growing some of your own food? A home garden allows you to enjoy healthy foods, without going over your budget. If you have a patch of land or even a windowsill or a balcony and have the interest, it is surprisingly easy to grow some of your own vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, and herbs.
Take a packed lunch to work
Unless your office offers staff a healthy meal at work, you will probably have to eat out regularly or order in a take-away. Fast foods are nice treats on occasion but can end up being very expensive if it becomes a routine and they tend to be unhealthy and fattening. Eat as many meals at home where you can control both the portions and ingredients. Taking a packed lunch to work with you is generally healthier and more frugal than eating out. It is particularly important to be very conscious of your children’s school snacks to avoid them developing weight problems from an early age. Solving problems of obesity will cost you much more in the long run so address these issues now.
Buy seasonal fruits and vegetables
Every fruit and vegetable has its season. Purchase your fresh fruits and vegetables in season when they are much more pleasant to eat and tend to be cheaper. Try to adapt to the current season as if you are tempted to eat your favorite fruits all year round you will be forced to buy imported fruit at much higher costs.
Buying in bulk can save you a lot of money. You can purchase your gari, rice, beans etc in bulk to get decent discounts. Not only is produce bought directly from the major farmer’s markets or from those who by from that source typically cheaper, but it tends to be fresher as well.
Whilst it is usually more economical to buy certain items in bulk, do be careful as you can end up over-buying and be left with well-stocked shelves with food well passed its use by date. Choose an amount that works for your family. Unless you have a particularly large extended family or entertain frequently, plan to share rice and other bulk items with friends and relations otherwise you will just end up with more than you need, little space and end up having to throw food away as it goes bad. As prices usually start increasing as Christmas approaches it is a good idea to consider your Christmas budget in good time.
Following an exercise regime is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. There is nothing expensive or complicated required to be active yet regular physical activity will help lower your risk from many diseases. Regular attendance at a good gym or health club is a fundamental part of some peoples’ lives, but for most, gym membership is expensive. Since we are fortunate to have pleasant weather most of the year, why not get your daily 30 minutes of exercise by taking a brisk walk outside. During the rainy season you can move indoors and follow an exercise regime with a work out video.
If you feel you don’t have the discipline to exercise alone, then team up with a friendly neighbor so you can be accountable to each other. There are many activities that will keep you fit and toned yet will not cost you much, such as jogging, cycling, skipping, strength training with dumbbells or resistance bands. Walk whenever you can and take the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator; this is absolutely free as is housework and some gardening.
Water is a necessity and we are always told that we need to get the recommended eight glasses a day to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Drinking water keeps you from drinking alternatives that may be loaded with calories and sugar. If your mains water supply is reliable, boil and filter your tap water and fill up your bottles and place them in the refrigerator. Boiled and filtered tap water is just as good as bottled water, which can be expensive if consumed every day.
Good old fashioned family fun
Board games are growing in popularity, which is a wonderful opportunity for families and communities. Enjoy yourself and have some mental stimulation at the same time by playing cards and board games, These are a great forms of entertainment and also give you valuable leisure time to forge relationships and reduce stress. Board games, reading and developing interests all provide mental stimulation on the cheap.
Regular medical check ups
Regular checkups by your dentist, or doctor can help detect medical problems before they get out of control. You will spend much less money on preventive care than on treating a serious condition. An annual check-up is one of the best ways to keep potential health issues at bay. Your age and individual risk factors will determine how often you need to be screened, but most healthy adults should be screened at least once a year.
Your lifestyle has an effect on your insurance premium; if you don’t maintain a healthy lifestyle, you increase your risk of major illnesses such as heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, diabetes and cancers, which are very expensive to fund. If you have a history of illness, you are likely to have to pay much higher health insurance premiums with higher out of pocket costs and deductibles. With a poor medical history, you will forever be having tests and procedures for diagnosis from one ailment or the other and be constantly spending. The healthier you are, the lower your insurance premiums will be.
We all already know that if we can be disciplined and follow healthy habits we can significantly improve our quality of life. Remember, a healthy lifestyle needn’t be expensive. With the right approach and a commitment to eliminate or significantly reduce some of the excesses in your life, you can enjoy a long happy, and successful life