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Health News of Monday, 3 March 2014

Source: The Mirror

Healthy diet, healthy for your wallet

Having a healthy lifestyle is a prerequisite for enjoying the highest attainable standard of health and a good quality of life; we all know that. Yet what we know and what we do are sometimes two different things because we don’t adequately prepare for the obstacles that may get in our way.

We all know a thing or two about physical barriers. If you don’t, try going through rush hour traffic around Kwame Nkrumah Circle and you will have a fair idea about what I am referring to.

Just as human and vehicular traffic would hold you back while driving along the road, a variety of physical and mental barriers can block your path when you’re attempting to make healthy changes in your life. Financial barriers can be looked at the same way.

I started talking about some barriers mid -January and pre-Valentine day, but in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I took a break to talk about love and heart health.

Just in case you missed the earlier articles, I talked about the barriers of lack of planning, lack of time, information overload and unrealistic expectations.

Granted, you may well face one of these barriers when you start making changes towards a healthier lifestyle. This is perfectly normal.

However, if you prepare for the obstacles that may get in your way, you won’t be discouraged when you falter and you will be able to quickly get back on track to a healthier lifestyle.

Cost has often been cited as the number one barrier that prevents people from making a healthy lifestyle change. For example, I have heard some people say that eating healthy is expensive but compare that to the quality of life you will have as a result of not eating healthy or to medical costs. I am sure you will agree with me that eating healthy is a better alternative and healthier for your wallet/purse.

I want you to take out an exercise book and complete this sentence, “When I have more money, then I will…”

We think that having more money will increase the quality of our lives, and while it has the potential of doing that, waiting till we have enough can stop us from living at our best potential now.

You know what I think? Most of the things you want to do don’t need to cost too much money. If you want to change your diet for instance, there’s no reason why you can’t do that now.

Some of the healthiest foods in the market are also some of the least expensive. Let’s think about items like beans, spinach, tomatoes, oranges and bananas. Aren’t they less expensive per portion than meat, burgers, pizza, potato chips and soft drinks?

What about smoking? How much does a pack of cigarettes cost? If you stop smoking, that amount of money stays in your wallet, doesn’t it?

When I was growing up, eating processed foods was quite minimal. Things like soft drinks were an occasional treat but somehow our diets began to change.

The sad thing is we now feed our children on pizza, soft drinks and processed foods on a regular basis and think it places us on another level. How did we get to this point?

Going to the gym, buying a treadmill or exercise bike is good but if you can’t afford it, don’t let the lack of money stop you from exercising. Consider exercises that don’t cost money.

I am thinking of the word ‘free’ as in walking, running, jogging, dancing to music, push-ups, skipping rope and other things you could do at home.

You don’t have money to go on a vacation? What about places like Akosombo, Aburi, Cape Coast, or you don’t think that counts as a vacation because it is not UK or USA?

Might not be as fancy but it still provides a break from everyday life and gives you much needed rest and relaxation. A powerful antidote to stress.

Admittedly, not all of us will be able to afford to go to some of the places I’ve mentioned, but you know what? In tourism, we have what we call a ‘staycation’ (a vacation spent at home or in your hometown). We all need the work-life balance.

An unhealthy lifestyle will cost you so much more as compared to a healthy lifestyle so don’t let the lack of money stop you.

Think of creative solutions to overcome financial barriers. At one point when carrots were expensive, my mother substituted carrots with green pawpaw; a cheaper and easily available substitute. The stew tasted great. That’s what I am talking about. Substitute at its best.

Though there are many more barriers one could talk about, I am ending the series with this article. As Mae West, American actress and playwright, said, “you only live once…………” Live it well!

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