No matter what the general perception is, you don’t need to break the bank in order to keep yourself fit and healthy. Anindra Siqueira & Sara Shah tell you how to switch to a healthy lifestyle without spending too much
Living in Mumbai can be quite stressful, physically as well as mentally. Whether this is because your schedule is so rushed that you don’t have the time to eat healthy, or because the stress of the daily grind is making you turn to the unhealthy comforts of binge eating, junk food, drinking and smoking, the truth is that it’s becoming harder to live healthy on a budget.
This is because in order to offset these bad habits and living conditions, people resort to extreme measures — they spend time in expensive gyms, buy “superfoods,” consume nutrient supplements and ill-advisedly resort to self-help. But, contrary to conventional belief, you don’t have to spend excessively in order to stay healthy. What you do need to do is make minor changes to your daily routine. And you will instantly notice the difference when you have more energy and exuberance.
THE SIMPLE THINGS
Make good food choices, starting with groceries
Getting healthy starts with your grocery shopping. It’s important to make a list of the items that you need before you head out to buy groceries. Make sure that you plan well, and if you can, buy your supplies for a week or so. Do some research on healthy foods so that you can pick them instead of the ones you regularly buy. And, most importantly, stick to your list. Resist the urge to impulsively grab something unhealthy that catches your attention.
Eat out less often
Eating out is expensive, even if you don’t think it is. To find out just how much more expensive it is than preparing a meal at home, analyse how much it costs to buy the ingredients that go into a restaurant meal. You’ll realise that you can save a lot, if you eat home-cooked food rather than at a restaurant! And, when you’re preparing a meal, you can’t work the recipe to make it healthier. If planning your meals is proving to be a problem and you don’t seem to have the time, think about prepping the ingredients on your day off, and whipping up something during work days. It makes your task a lot easier.
Most people don’t drink enough water. But, having a water bottle handy, to sip on from time to time, gives your body the water it requires and helps you ward off hunger. It’s the simplest step to good health without spending too much. Also, avoid packaged bottled water, because you can’t be sure of the source; boiled water is the safest bet.
Change your breakfast routine
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, specially when it comes to staying healthy. Switch to a meal that contains protein, carbohydrates and fibre — oatmeal and eggs are good options and are relatively inexpensive. These will keep you feeling full for longer. Holistic health guru Mickey Mehta, tells us, “Oats, a good helping of fruits, rajgira or nachni dosas and sprouts are good for health and a great way to begin your day.”
Eat less red meat
Yes, vegetable prices fluctuate a lot, shooting up so often, but meat is still expensive. And, eating a lot of it may not be very healthy either. Mickey says, “Excessive consumption of meat can lead to toxic and undigested residue in your system. It contains naturally occurring toxins, pesticides, growth hormones, additives and antibiotics that can leads to grave health issues. Fruits, sprouts, nuts, seeds, whole grains and vegetables are storehouses of natural nutrients and are ideal for digestion.” If you don’t want to eliminate meat from individual meals, eat smaller portions with every meal, and make up for it by eating more plant protein.
Ditch your gym membership
A gym membership isn’t proof of your fitness or health. Exercising outdoors will save you a ton on expensive yearly gym payments and you can stay equally fit and healthy. Going for a daily jog can do wonders for your health and exercising in a natural setting will also melt your stress away.
Make your commute active
Driving to work in your car or taking the bus may seem like convenient options, but you can kill two birds with one stone. You can use your commute time to your advantage by cycling if you don’t work too far away from your home. If that’s not possible, hop on the old cycle when doing your daily or weekly grocery or market shopping.
Kick the habit
Smoking and drinking are expensive indulgences. And, you don’t need a doctor to tell you that they’re bad for you. Try to cut down on alcohol and cigarettes. There’s no doubt that it will make you healthier!
OFFBEAT WAYS TO STAY HEALTHY
Switch toactive dating
This doesn’t mean that you need to be more active on the dating circuit, but we suggest going on adventurous dates with your partner. These could range from a simple nature walk or a hike to a canoe outing. They will keep you physically active and are also light on the pocket. The best part is that you don’t even need to besuper fit!
Listen to your doctor
Your sore throat or runny nose may seem harmless to you— just like a random bout of cold — and maybe it’s just that. But what if it isn’t? So, schedule regular appointments and make sure that you visit your doctor to treat something as minor as a cold. It may sound counterintuitive if the aim is to save money, but if you think about it, treating a minor sickness rather than something that started off small and is now severe could save you a lot of money.
Take care of your mental health
In our quest to keep ourselves physically fit and healthy, we often forget about our mental health, which is equally important. Psychological issues can affect the quality of your life and can often increase your risk of suffering from chronic health conditions and substance abuse.
WORTH SPLURGING ON
Nothing is more important than your health and it’s vital that you attend to a health issue immediately. It will benefit you in the long run.
Oils such as olive oil tend to be costlier than your standard vegetable cooking oil. However, rather than buying them for cooking, you can use them on popcorn, in salads or include them with eatables that might require a little grease.
Organic food is cultivated without the use of chemicals or pesticides. And, although there aren’t any extraordinary benefits of going organic, you will be definitely reducing your (inadvertent) consumption of chemicals and preservatives in the long run.
Staying healthy includes more than just eating right and exercising. Don’t let everyday stress get to you. Mickey says, “Incorporate frequent meditation, pranayam and prayers in your routine. They help harmonise your emotional, spiritual, physical and physiological wellness and will keep you energised and healthy.”
The ol’ Switcheroo
You may think that healthy eating is expensive, but we tell you about a few smart swaps that will help you make better food choices
We’re not talking about packaged frozen food. Certain fruits such as berries can be rather expensive and get spoilt easily. However, frozen berries can be preserved for longer durations. And you can freeze them yourself to extend their shelf life. It’s better than throwing out rotten food that you’ve forgotten about in the fridge.
Ditch the instant oats
Instant oats are delicious, but they are packed with empty calories and sugar, which will do you more harm than good. This is why it’s so much better to invest in a large can of plain oats, which you can prepare as when you want to.
Say no to boxed juices
They are loaded with sugar and most of them aren’t even made from real fruit! Pick whole fruits instead or just juice them at home — all you need is a blender. Not to mention, you can sweeten them as per your liking.
You can spend your money on those expensive protein powders or you can choose to go natural and spend a few bucks on some actual protein. Beef, pork, fish and chicken are high in protein. You can chop them up and store them for up to a week in your freezer. They make for a delicious meal and if you’re a vegetarian, lentils and legumes can add protein to your diet. Tofu, which is also rich in protein, is a good meat replacement.