Is Healthy Eating Expensive?
So lately I've noticed a lot of "rebel nutrition" going on in the world of social media. I love social media. It has made a lot of bite-sized education accessible to anyone who can afford a smartphone (and no, that isn't everybody). However, it has made a platform for a lot of ill-educated and subjective opinion which is actually a little bit aggressive in tone.
Most of these are influencers trying to win clicks and followers by "demystifying" a lot of good evidence-based nutrition advice. They're positioning themselves as authorities and have even come up with a clever word for their opinions on healthy eating: nutribollox. These people often call themselves "intuitive eaters" and some of them are even general practitioners and "nutritionists". And of course, some of what they are advocating is balance in everything, which I don't disagree with. Covering up an eating disorder with a highly restrictive diet under the guise of "nutrition" is becoming increasingly common these days and it is something I work with my clients to move away from.
The one thing it seems that we all agree on, is that plants are good for us. And that's what I'd like to celebrate and elaborate on today. Do we all really need to know how to read and interpret a scientific study and keep up to date on the latest in nutrition science? (No, that's what I'm here for.)
Part of the problem is that there is a plethora of "nutrition information" out there and all of it appears to conflict and there are a vast number of opposing results from research and studies. When you unpick these studies and look at those which have been done to the gold standard randomized double blind placebo controlled studies, you'll find a lot of these inconsistencies fall to the wayside. It's my job to keep on top of those studies and help guide you through the labyrinth of information and misinformation to help you make informed decisions.
The global wellness economy is a $4.2 trillion USD market and between 2015 - 2017 the industry grew from a $3.7 trillion to a $4.2 trillion market, nearly twice as fast as global economic growth (3.6%). Healthy Eating, Nutrition and Weight Loss accounts for $702 billion in spending, with more and more people engaging in healthy eating practices, or seeking information about healthy eating. The dietary supplement industry alone is expected to be worth $274 billion USD in 5 years' time. The average American spends $56 dollars a month on supplements alone. There is a lot of money to be made in the "healthy pill" flogging industry and some of these are excellent products and others, not so much. Others yet, are just downright unsafe.
Mostly, these are supplements which are poor quality and ineffective, or un-required nutrients which are not suitable for the user - and possibly even unsafe if they're conflicting with existing medications. People spend their money on these supplements (and believe me I used to do the same thing!) because they read an article on a health website about today's miracle vitamin/mineral/antioxidant/random product. Pretty soon you have a cupboard full of expensive, half-used supplements, powders and other "miracle" products. This is where the services of a Registered Nutritional Therapist or Functional Medicine Practitioner can come in handy and save you money.
Here's what I do. I help my clients streamline their food spend, focusing on simple, real foods - the ones which are appropriate for their individual dietary needs. Yes, sometimes a particular health symptom will require the temporary use of a high quality supplement, but I spend a lot of time researching different practitioner-grade supplements and will only recommend the most effective (and cost-effective) product which is right for you. Unless there is a specific reason (i.e. vegans require life-long vitamin B12 supplementation) then I will only keep you on that supplement for a fixed term period until it does its work. I even have clients who ask me to work with food-only plans, eschewing supplementation entirely.
A number of discounter supermarkets are starting to offer a larger range of budget friendly organic and pesticide/herbicide-reduced products. And while I always encourage supporting veg box schemes, farmers markets and local fruit and vegetable stalls where possible, I am grateful that I live in a country where I can send a client living on a fixed income to an easy-to-access supermarket where they can load up their cart with healthy, real-food, low-carb options and still stick to their budget.
What about you? Do you believe that it's possible to eat a healthy diet on a budget...or am I talking "nutribollox"?
Resources: globalwellness.org, https://www.grandviewresearch.com/press-release/global-dietary-supplements-market, https://us.myprotein.com/thezone/training/much-americans-spend-health-fitness-survey-results-revealed/