According to research, some of the factors that stand in the way of healthy eating are the high cost of nutritious food, low rates of nutrition information, traditional dishes, social conditioning, and a lack of time for planning and preparing meals. A significant number of the obstacles to healthy eating are more related to perceptions than they are to facts. One misconception that is an illustration of this is the idea that consuming healthily must cost more money, even though there are numerous cost-effective options available for consuming healthfully.
According to Maria van der Merwe, who is the president of the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA), “Presently, the elevated living costs in South Africa are stimulating changes in what food we buy, as well as how frequently we eat out, or how often we select ready-made foods like takeaways over preparing meals at home.”
We should take advantage of this opportunity to ensure that we are emphasizing healthy eating. There are many different approaches that customers can take to reduce their expenditures on food. It is connected to eating a healthy diet to emphasize meal planning and preparing meals from whole foods at home because it is both cost-effective and beneficial.
Nicola Eley, the acting executive director of Grow Great, a campaign that seeks to galvanize South Africa forward into a national commitment to achieve zero stunting by 2030, asserts that children and mothers need access to inexpensive foods that include growth-promoting nutrition such as eggs and that transforming the culture of childhood development feeding habits begins at the household level.
Grow Great is an initiative that seeks to galvanize South Africa towards a national commitment to achieve zero stunting by 2030. She says that “offering aid for mothers who continue to nurse at both work and home guarantees positive development and growth of a baby; done in conjunction with nutritious food choices, nursing advantages for both mom and baby, and protects children against weight gain and stunted growth later in life.”
Professor Pamela Naidoo, CEO of The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSFSA), which is also a partner in National Nutrition Week 2022, explains how a healthy diet and regular exercise can be used to lower the risk of developing non-communicable diseases (NCDs). According to what she has said, “every day 225 people in South Africa pass away from cardiovascular disease.”
Following tuberculosis and diabetes as the leading causes of death in South Africa, cardiovascular disease, which encompasses both heart disease and strokes, is the next leading cause of death. To put this into perspective, more people in South Africa pass away from heart disease and strokes combined than from all forms of cancer put together. Being overweight and obesity, in addition to hypertension, are three of the primary contributors to the development of cardiovascular disease.
In general, the South African diet consists of a high intake of salt, fat, and refined carbohydrates, but relatively low consumption of fresh vegetables and fruit. Additionally, contributing factors include tobacco smoking, consumption of alcoholic beverages, and a lack of regular physical activity. Because of this, we need to make adjustments to the routines that comprise our lifestyle by selecting nutritious foods and engaging in daily physical activity.
Prof. Naidoo goes on to say that parents and other caregivers need to make an active effort to exert some level of control over the eating habits of their young children as early as possible. Households that are looking to cut their budgets as a result of rising costs should first consider reducing or quitting their consumption of alcoholic drinks and tobacco, replacing sugary cold drinks with fresh, clean water, and exchanging fresh vegetables and fruits for salty snacks or sugary treats. These are just some of the suggestions that should be taken into consideration.
The common misconception is that eating healthily must come at a high cost, but this is not always the case. Cooking your meals at home is not only more cost-effective than purchasing ready-made foods or eating out, but it also makes it more likely that you will make dietary decisions that are beneficial to your health. The Nutrition Society of South Africa (NSSA), represented by Carol Browne, offers the following suggestions for the planning and preparation of speedy, healthy, and inexpensive meals at home:
- Create a weekly or monthly menu plan and a monthly food budget that are appropriate for your financial situation, and do your best to stick to them. Choose simple recipes to save time.
- When money is tight, it is essential to minimize wasted food, which can be accomplished by planning out your menus and preparing your meals in advance. It is important to properly store food to make it last longer and to avoid throwing away any leftovers.
- Always use a shopping list when you go to the grocery store, and make sure that the list is based on your menu plan and your budget. Do not go grocery shopping while your stomach is growling.
- Keep an eye out for sales, and if you can swing it, buy in quantity and split your purchases with other family members or friends.
- Pick out a wide variety of foods that fall within your price range and are readily available.
- You should give thought to eliminating meat from your diet at least once per week.
- Include dry beans, peas, lentils, and soy, which are versatile ingredients that can be incorporated into a variety of dishes such as salads, soups, stews, and curries. Because of the high amount of plant protein that they contain, they are versatile enough to be used either in place of meat in a dish, to increase the amount of meat that can be used, or as an ingredient in their own right.
- You should make sure that your daily meal plan consists of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.
- Cooking extra food for another dinner or lunch the following day should be done whenever it is possible. Freeze any additional portions that can be used for another meal and quickly reheated. This not only helps you save money on energy costs, but it also helps you save time and prevents food from going to waste.
- When cooking on the stove, it is important to make sure that you are using the appropriate-sized pots and pans. Keeping the lid on a pot containing a stew or soup enables it to be cooked more quickly and with less energy consumption.
- To prevent yourself from overeating, make it a habit to control your portions.
- If you want to cut down on the number of oils and fats you use in your cooking, try steaming, boiling, grilling, and baking instead of deep-fat frying. These methods of cooking are much healthier.
- Instead of salt, try flavoring your food with different herbs and spices.
- Children of all ages require quick and easy access to a wide variety of appropriate foods, both in their homes and at school.
- These foods should include an abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits, which can be grown either at home, at school, or in the community.
- Involve your children in the preparation of meals, and try to eat together without any distractions like screens or other electronic devices.