8 Ideas To Eat Healthy On A Budget







Don’t listen to people that say you can’t afford healthy food.  Here are some tips to eat healthy without breaking the bank.

1. Eat at home

Plan meals for the entire week and then shop with a list and try to stick to it.  Eating out, whether it’s at a restaurant or picking up fast-food, is much more expensive than eating at home. But, if you don’t have the food at home it is much easier to just go out to eat. So, plan those meals!

2. Buy food in season

Fruits and vegetables are much less expensive when they are in season and growers have extra food that they need to sell quickly.  Also, they usually taste better then, too!   Whether it’s strawberries in the Spring or sweet potatoes in the Fall, it will help you mix up what you eat and keep your taste buds and your wallet happy.

3. Buy on sale

Look at the advertisements from the grocery stores and pick out the healthy items that are on sale.  Again, it takes planning but will save a few extra dollars each week.

4. Buy in bulk

This works especially well for family packs of chicken, fish and meat.  You can freeze what you don’t use or double the recipe and have leftovers. That can save a lot of time during the week because you’ve already done most of the work.

5. Plant your own

Growing your own fruits and vegetables can be fun and cheap!  A little effort pays off financially and nutritionally.  You can even just start with a potted tomato plant in the Spring and see where that takes you.

6. Go meatless  (or at least less)

Consider using other sources of protein such as beans as your source of protein for a meal. Even reducing the amount of meat or chicken you use can really reduce the price of a meal.  For example, you can find healthy chicken vegetable soup recipes that require much smaller portions of chicken per person than other chicken meals.

7. Tips for eating out

Just because many of the recommendations above involve eating at home, sometimes it is just fun to eat out!  Here are a few tips when you eat out:

- Try to find 2 for 1 coupons that many restaurants offer

- Take advantage of early bird specials

- Choose water instead of ordering a soda and save a few dollars

- Split a meal.  Many meals have large portions and sharing a salad and main course with a friend is usually plenty of food for both of you!

8. Plan

They key to achieving all of the above goals is to Plan, Plan, Plan!!  It does take a little effort to eat healthy on a budget but it absolutely can be done.  Go for it!

In Good Health,

Dr. Pat

Drinking Your Way To Obesity?

Recently, I had a 9 year old girl visit my office for a physical exam. She had gained some weight over the last year and I had to go into detective mode to figure out what might be the cause of the problem. She had been eating about the same, fairly healthy, but got into a “soda” habit. She was having at least one soda a day. Aha! I believe we are getting somewhere! Some people might think, “What’s the big deal? It’s just one a day”. But, look at the ingredients in most sodas. After water, high fructose corn syrup is the next ingredient. High fructose corn syrup is one of the code names for sugar. Sugar has a lot of nicknames: high fructose corn syrup, fructose, dextrose, sucrose, syrup. Sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages play a huge role in our epidemic of childhood obesity. A 20 oz soda has about 16 teaspoons of sugar and about 250 calories! It is recommended by the American Heart Association that children get only 3-4 teaspoons of sugar a day. Teens should get no more than 5-9 teaspoons a day. Ne soda and you are over that limit. Unfortunately, the average American teenager takes in about 34 teaspoons of sugar a day and a lot of that comes from sugar-sweetened beverages.

The interesting thing about high fructose corn syrup is that it can fool your body. Unlike nutrient rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, meats and grains, our bodies don’t feel satisfied. Medical studies have shown that if you drink a soda with a meal, you actually don’t eat less calories. So, those extra 250 calories are just added into your day. After one year of 250 extra calories a day, that’s about a 25 lb weight gain in a year for adults! And those calories are “empty” calories. What that means is that they don’t have as many nutrients as other foods or drinks such as milk but yet they are a part of your calories for the day.

Even seemingly healthy drinks such as sport drinks can have a lot of sugar. Many have about 8 teaspoons of sugar per serving. Look at the portion size on sport drinks. You may think you are only getting 120 calories, but there might be 2 servings in the bottle. For children playing participating in physical activities, water is the drink that is recommended.

What about juice? Juice has some vitamins such as Vitamin A and C. However, many juices have the pulp removed. By removing the pulp, you are taking away the healthy fiber that helps our bodies process the juice itself. Better to eat the fruit and drink water is what I like to say! A small amount of juice is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. But, no more than 4-6 ounces for kids 1-7 years old and 8-12 ounces for kids 7-18 years old.

What should kids be drinking? Answer: Water and low-fat milk!

You might wonder about milk since it has calories. Why is a 250 calorie glass of milk different than a 250 calorie glass of soda? Milk is a nutrient-rich drink. It has many nutrients such as protein and calcium which help build up our muscles and bones. And, our body becomes satisfied with those calories, it becomes a part of the calories we consume for the day, and we will decrease the amounts of other foods we eat.

For kids, water can be very boring. Often our kids today are looking for some flavor in their drink. What can we do to make water more exciting? Try to add some fresh fruits to a pitcher of water and leave that in refrigerator. Most fruits add great flavor such as lemon, lime, strawberry, and pineapples. Some fruits and vegetables work great too, like cucumber or mint.

I challenge everyone to be a detective! What’s in YOUR drink? Look for those hidden sugars and avoid them as much as possible. Remember: Drink water and low-fat milk instead!

Dr. Pat on TV!

Dr. Pat talks with Taylor Baldwin on PRIMETIME U-T TV! She discusses the 4 easy ways to prevent childhood obesity. Dr. Pat also  explains the hidden sugars in foods we THINK are healthy and why reading food labels is a key element in avoiding weight gain!

What parents buy at the grocery store is critical to nutritional health. If parents are taking good care of themselves nutritionally, there is a good chance the kids will eat healthy too.

Guess what percentage of kids grow up to be overweight adults? IT’s SHOCKING!

Watch this short clip and get all the details.


5 Tips to Get Kids to Eat their Fruits and Vegetables!

Not eating enough fruits and vegetables is one of the biggest concerns that parents have regarding their children’s diet.  It’s recommended that kids get at least 5 servings of fruits and/or vegetables in their diet every day.  But, most kids aren’t getting that amount.  Below are 5 tips that can help children get their 5 a day!

  1.  Cut it!  Kids love when food is cut into pieces that they can pick up.  An apple or orange might sit on the counter in the fruit bowl.  But, cut it up and all of a sudden it is much more appealing.  Even the fast food restaurants have figured this out and instead of just handing a child an apple or orange with their kid’s meal, they get apple or mandarin slices!
  2. Dip it!  Some vegetables can be bitter to a child’s immature taste buds.  Offering a yogurt or ranch dip can add the flavor they like and helps mellow out the taste of the vegetable.
  3. Hide it! What they don’t know won’t hurt them!  By disguising fruits and vegetables, kids will get the nutrients they need.  Plus, without knowing it, kids will learn to develop the taste for the vegetables or fruits and their taste buds will be more accepting of the fruit or vegetable in the future.  Smoothies are a perfect way to blend in a few servings of fruits and/or vegetables.  You can also puree vegetables like carrots or spinach and add that to a pasta sauce!  For more ideas, check out Jessica Seinfeld’s cookbook “Deceptively Delicious”.
  4. Grow it! Gardens are a great way to get kids to eat more fruits and veggies!     I took my sons (7 and 9) to their grandmother’s house and they ate just-picked sugar snap peas.  I was shocked!  First of all, they tried it without whining and second, they liked it and asked for more!  Since the fruits and vegetables can be picked when they are ripe, they often taste better than the store bought version.   Kids love to see the food grow and helping them be a part of the process encourages healthy eating!
  5. Make it fun!  Put cream cheese on celery and add raisins on top and you have Ants on a Log.  Use cookie cutters to cut watermelon or cucumbers into fun shapes.  The more appealing it looks, the more kids want to try it.  For some fun ideas, check out http://familyfun.go.com/recipes/cooking-with-kids/.

Be creative and persistent and try to offer at least 1 or 2 servings of fruits and/or vegetables at each meal!

Pat Cantrell, MD, FAAP

Pediatrician, President, KFIT Health, LLC




Kids vs Parents: Who’s Healthier?

Dr. Pat’s Healthy Kid Zone

Many people are asking the question: Are today’s kids healthier than their parents were at the same age?  The answer is Yes AND No.

  • Yes, we have better medicines to treat diseases
  • Yes, we have less diseases because of  vaccines
  • Yes, we have better safety laws to help prevent injuries
  • Yes, we have more knowledge about diseases

But, let’s look at what medical experts are predicting:

Today’s children may be the first generation that doesn’t live a longer life than their parents!

1 out of 3 kids born in the year 2000 or later will have diabetes at some point in their lifetime!

 Here are some more shocking facts:

  • Almost 1 out of 3 children are overweight
  • Children are getting an average of 7 ½ hours of media time (TV, computer, texting) a day
  • Children are getting an average of 3 “junk food” snacks a day!

So if kids aren’t going to live as long of a life as their parents mostly due to unhealthy eating and not getting enough physical activity, I’d have to say that kids ARE NOT as healthy as their parents when they were the same age.

I see it everyday: Teenagers with Type 2 diabetes, children with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and liver problems.

Let’s DO SOMETHING about it!  Start with your family, then your child’s school, then your community.  For the sake of our kids, we need to change what is the social norm of inactivity and unhealthy eating.  We can do it together.  But, we need to take those first steps and then just keep on walking!  I challenge you to start with these 4 basic tips;

1.    Serve at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day

2.    Serve at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day

3.    Limit your child to no more than 2 hours of screen time a day

4.    Encourage at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day

5.    Avoid soda and sugar-sweetened beverages

We can add more healthy goals later.  But, if everyone just followed the above recommendations, our kids can live LONGER lives than we live and be HEALTHIER overall!