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I Would Eat Healthier If... (What Would You Say?)

What keeps you from eating healthy foods?

Registered dietitian Kimberly Boone asked 91 people this question in a survey recently. It asked people to finish this sentence: “I would eat healthier if I could ______”.

The top 3 answers were:

  1. Learn to cook foods in a healthy way
  2. Have weekly meal plans and grocery lists
  3. Know more about healthy portions

Boone works at Church Health in Memphis, Tennessee, a health and wellness clinic that serves people who do not have health insurance. Boone helps people eat healthy foods with easy, low-cost options.

Boone shared the following tips:

Kimberly Boone standing in a kitchen space

Kimberly Boone is a registered dietitian who help clients eat healthy on a budget.

Use frozen and canned vegetables and fruits

Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables are healthy options that do not cost a lot of money. Fruits and vegetables should make up 50% of your plate at mealtimes.

“I think one of the biggest barriers to eating more vegetables is people think they have to eat fresh or it's not considered healthy,” Boone said. “Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked at peak freshness. Sometimes they may be richer in nutrients than fresh produce that was picked before its peak and has been sitting out for a while. Choose fruit packed in 100% fruit juice, or water. Try to avoid items with lots of sauces. They can be high in added salt, sugar, and fats.

Fruits and vegetables

Eat “the rainbow.” Different colors of fruits and vegetables have different benefits.

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A healthy diet include a variety of foods.

Eat less meat, more legumes

Protein-rich foods should make up about 25% of your plate. Meat is the most expensive source. Save money by cutting down on meat. “In truth, plants should make up about 75% of your overall diet,” Boone said.

Get protein from legumes: beans, lentils, peas, and unsalted peanuts. If buying canned items, look for no salt or low sodium options. If there are not any, rinse and drain before using. 

“Legumes are not only super cheap and affordable but extremely healthy,” Boone said. “Legumes can help lower blood sugar and blood pressure and may even help prevent digestive cancers due to their fiber and antioxidant content. Regular eating of legumes can lower your risk of heart disease.”

Eat whole grains

Whole grains are a healthier option than refined grains such as white flour and white rice. Brown rice is a low-cost option. You can buy quick-cooking and microwave versions, but they cost a little more. Grains should make up about 25% of your plate.

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