Inexpensive Ways to Eat Healthy & Live Mindfully

DenaNovember 11, 2009

“Your body is your temple.”

Recently, I’ve been inspired to reinvigorate my quest to live a healthy lifestyle. As many of my readers know, a few years ago I lost seventy pounds and transformed my life; but it is still important that I remind myself to “live healthy” every single day. It is so easy to fall back into the trap of stopping at McDonald’s for lunch or picking up a pizza after the gym because I’m just “too tired to cook tonight.”

Eating healthy is one of the best things that you can do for your body. Healthy food can help you prevent and treat disease. Eating more fruits and vegetables as part of a heart-healthy diet can help lower blood pressure. Eating more fruits and vegetables may also lower your risk of lung, oral, esophageal, stomach, and colon cancer! And eating less saturated fat may also lower your risk for cancer and heart disease. Just think about all of that that for a minute — making minor changes to what you put into your body can absolutely save you from a lifetime of pain and suffering. It’s amazing. Healthy food is a miracle at your disposal.

Eating healthy can also be very good for your wallet. Last month, my partner and I decided to cut way back on eating out. We realized that not only was it adding inches to our waistlines, but it was also draining dollars from our bank accounts. I can already see a difference in my body and we’ve saved $75 a piece in one month. Yea, $75 bucks a month, that’s $900 a year per person. In addition to cutting back on eating out, I’ve discovered some great websites for healthy dinner recipes at $5 or less! My favorite is So far I’ve made the beef goulash (substituted ground turkey for beef) and the angel hair with cherry tomatoes — both delicious, nutritious, and cheap. I will admit it, sometimes it is really difficult to come home after a long day at work, a good workout at the gym, and then cook dinner; but the good far outweighs the bad. When I can, I prepare big meals in the slow cooker on Sunday afternoon and they last throughout the week (sausage, peppers, & onions; chili; beef roast with root vegetables, etc). A little extra effort goes a long way and is undoubtedly worth it in the end.

“A smiling face is half the meal.” —Latvian Proverb

In addition to my own insights I’ve come across some great articles recently that express similar findings. There was a post on Zen Habits recently, “The Anti-Fast Food Diet” which I absolutely loved. It shared nine solid tips on how to avoid fast food and embrace slow food:

1. Stop rushing to eat. Set aside more time for eating, for shopping and preparation, for enjoying life. Stop rushing to fast food places because it’s convenient — because it’s not so convenient to be hospitalized. Instead, make time, and take things a bit slower.

2. Prepare your own meals. I know, who has the time? You do. Make the time, and cook simple meals without a lot of ingredients or preparation time. It takes 10 minutes to whip together a healthy and tasty lunch or dinner. And it can be a lot of fun (get the family or your partner involved). Preparing your own meals is healthier, frugal, and you know you’re eating good food.

3. Eat real food, not processed. Buy fresh ingredients such as fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, beans, and the like. Use ingredients you can recognize, not things filled with chemicals. Don’t use prepared food if you can avoid it — microwaveable or boxed foods are not the best. Avoid processed food at all costs.

4. Eat slowly and mindfully. Too many people stuff food down their gullets these days. It’s not healthy, and you’ve just consumed food without enjoying it. Instead, take the time to chew your food, to taste it, to be present as you eat.

5. Enjoy the food. Fully savor each bite. Appreciate the miracle of the food you’re eating, and be grateful you have that bite at all.

6. Take time to breathe, and smile. Before you begin to eat, smile, and take a deep breath, reminding yourself to be present and enjoy the food. Between bites, instead of rushing to the next bite, breath, relax, enjoy. Savor the moment.

7. When drinking tea, just drink tea. When eating, just eat. Be fully present. Don’t read a book or surf the net or drive or work or anything else but eat and drink.

8. Good conversation. OK, the exception to the above rule: eating with friends and family. Fast food has destroyed the good meal and conversation, because we’re rushing as we eat and don’t have time for a good talk. Bring it back.

9. When you do eat at a restaurant, make it a good one.
Avoid the fast food places, but also the chain restaurants (Chilis, TGI Fridays, Lone Star, Olive Garden, etc). Go to locally owned restaurants where they use real ingredients and really make good food. These may be more expensive, but you’re not supporting a corporation and your food will be better, and even if it means eating out less that’s OK — quality is more important than quantity.

“All happiness depends upon a leisurely breakfast.” —John Gunther

My friend Ken, over at Wasabi Burger made a post last week about snacking healthier — “Don’t Become a Snack Monster” that included some really excellent tips for healthy alternatives to common snacks, like eating chips with salsa instead of guacamole; eating baked potato fries instead of french fries; yogurt instead of ice cream; and more.

My friend Dave, over at LifeExcursion posts about healthy lifestyle every Tuesday and has got lots of great advice and inspiration. (Just have a look at his abs and you’ll be racing to the gym in no time!)

There is no shortage of healthy inspiration to be found all around the internet. There are hundreds of sites dedicated to inspiring you to be your best self. Feel free to share your favorites in the comments section.

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” —Virgina Woolf

There are so many elements to take into consideration as we embark on our personal journeys of evolution. The important thing is to be mindful of all that you do. Whether you are climbing a mountain or peeling an orange
, there is beauty and importance in every move that you make. Do only the things that will nurture your body, mind, and soul. You alone are in control of your destiny, life, and health. You have the power to be amazing in every way. The things that you put into your body will make a huge difference in the way that you live and feel each day.

Begin to start living the healthy style that you’ve been after for so long today. Nourish your body, your soul, and your bank account! You can do it.

Comments (6)

  • Greg – Live It with less

    November 11, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    You're, eating healthy can be inexpensive, however there is a common misconception that fast food is cheaper because its easier.

    Thanks for the 5dollardinners link, I am going to check it out now.

  • Ken Kurosawa

    November 12, 2009 at 2:44 am

    Dena, thanks for the mention!
    BTW, do you drink green tea? If so, here's an interesting article I found. Adding a little lemon juice in green tea can increase the effectiveness of the antioxidants.
    Green Tea and Lemon Juice

  • Dena

    November 12, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    @Greg – Fast food is evil! Ha. Actually, I think that fast food is alright *once in awhile*. (Yes, sometimes I divulge in Taco Bell as disgusting as that may sound to some.)

    The problem occurs when people do it everyday. I understand that people think it is "cheaper" and "easier" …and guess what, in some ways that is true! However, there is no excuse to not take a little extra time to prepare your own food ESPECIALLY when you can make incredibly delicious MEALS for $5! 🙂

    @Ken – No problem, great post. I do drink green tea almost everyday and I had no idea! That's a super idea, I've got to get my hands on some lemon juice.

  • Ryan

    November 12, 2009 at 12:56 pm


    I've dieted consistently for the past 20 years. I agree fully that there are ways to eat healthy while not spending a lot of money. My biggest challenge has been mindful eating. I, like many, have a deep psychological relationship with food. Any food that tastes good has been a comfort food for me, and during tough times I used to scarf it down. I keep extremely active and always knew when enough was enough so I've never had a weight problem. I've made the decision to become more mindful, to fully enjoy my meals, and to dedicate myself to eating without distractions. Dining has been a more enjoyable experience for me.

    Great insight!

  • Dena

    November 12, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    @Ryan – Wow! 20 years.. you know I would say that to some degree I've done the same, maybe a few years less. I think that being conscious and aware of what we put into our bodies is the most important thing. It sounds like you've got an amazing handle on that. Thanks for the inspiration. 🙂

  • My Journey to Financial Freedom | Part 2: The Climb

    March 19, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    […] made—chili, sausage & peppers, and goulash will be your new (delicious, cheap) best friends. (Here are some more tips for eating healthy & […]

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