“Health complications changed my life,” said Jake Loeffler, a doctoral intern at the Counseling Services Center on campus. After explaining his battle with constant sinus infections and acid reflux syndrome, Loeffler decided to change his unhealthy eating habits.
The UMKC Mindbody Connection Center held a workshop Wednesday on how students can eat healthier despite budget constraints. Loeffler hosted the event, offering students three helpful tips to accomplish what seems to be a nearly impossible task.
Tip #1- Budgeting. Forming healthy eating habits can be insanely expensive. Therefore, the best thing to do is set aside an amount of money for your shopping trip and create a grocery list organized into needs and wants. Setting aside money specifically for groceries allows you to focus on meal planning without overspending.
Loeffler said your list should consist of your favorite fruits, vegetables, and meats and your favorite guilty pleasures.
“Healthy eating is not about taking away what you love to eat,” he said.
It is, however, about having the self-control to limit your intake of unhealthy foods you love to eat.
Buying things in bulk is cheaper than making continuous trips to the grocery store for the same few items every week. Costco and Sam’s Club are great stores to buy food in bulk. If you’re on a budget, it’s good to stay away from wholefood stores because they are more expensive than regular stores. Some local, affordable food markets include Aldi, Save-a-Lot, and HyVee.
“Many people think that when they eat healthy they have to eat the best of the best. That’s not true. It’s ok to buy non-name brand foods as opposed to name brand foods.” said Loeffler. “Generic foods taste just the same, if not better than name brand foods, and they’re cheaper.”
Instead of buying more major items to add flavor to your meal, buy toppings and seasonings. It’ll not only give your food flavor, but it will also save you more money. It’s also not a problem to buy frozen fruits and vegetables because they do last longer. But if you do decide to buy these items fresh, you can always freeze them instead of throwing them in the trash, this too saves you money.
Tip #2- Time management. Between jobs, school, homework, socializing, athletics, and sleep, it can be hard to fit healthy eating into a busy schedule.
“Time is the main excuse people use to not being able to make better food choices,” Loeffler said.
Not having enough time to meal prep seems like a reasonable explanation to spend money on fast food and premade foods. However, you must make time for things that will benefit your future. Spend that hour of watching tv, listening to music, or playing video games to meal prep instead. That way, when you have the chance to cook, you won’t have to prepare the meal from scratch. This saves you time, money, and energy.
“You don’t have to cook long complex meals to eat healthy.” shared Loeffler. For breakfast you can have a simple yogurt parfait, make a bowl of oatmeal, or blend up a smoothie. These meals only take 2-5 minutes to make.
Let’s say you love to have trail mix for a snack. You can buy your trail mix ingredients in bulk and fill zip-lock bags with it for the week instead of just for the day.
“Whenever you have the chance to cook. Always make more than what you need. In this way your meal can last you for a few days instead of just one or two,” said Loeffler.
Tip #3- Overcome temptation. The best way to do this is to have a friend join you on this healthy eating journey.
“When you have someone to vent to about these unhealthy temptations, it’s easier to overcome them.” Loeffler stated. “You guys can also hold each other accountable and motivate, inspire, and encourage one another.”
With these great tips, healthy eating seems possible after all.