There is a stigma that eating healthy costs more. This is highly dependent on your situation and what you take into account for cost.
If you are eating at restaurants regularly, you will find that it can cost substantially more and is not necessarily faster than preparing food at home. ABC News played out a scenario, running to a drive through restaurant versus making dinner at home, to determine which was actually faster for a particular family. With their experiment, it turns out that it took 31 minutes to pick up food, while only 22 minutes to cook, and the take out was $10 more expensive. Now this experiment doesn’t consider the time requirements of going to the grocery store or cleaning up from the preparation, but is an interesting illustration of how your perception may be different than reality.
As for the cost of the food, the short term cost of a healthy diet is about $1.50 per day per person more expensive. This was based on both prices per serving and per 200 calories in healthy and less healthy diets, with the healthier diets consisting of more fruits, vegetables, fish, and nuts and the less healthy diet of processed foods, meats, and refined grains. This amounts to about $550 per year in additional food costs for a healthy diet. To put this into perspective, according to Daniel Lieberman in The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease, treating an American with heart disease costs an extra $18,000 a year, or about $33 dollars per day. Each year you live with heart disease would cost the equivalent to 32.7 years of eating more healthfully. According to the Center for Diesease Control and Prevention, in 2010 86% of all heath care spending was for people with one or more chronic medical conditions. The CDC defines “chronic diseases and conditions—such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and arthritis—” as “among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems.” Based off of data from the U.S Census and Health Affairs, there were 308,745,538 people living in the U.S. and the total cost of health care was equal to $2.6 trillion in 2010. This means the cost of preventable diseases was over $2.2 trillion, or about $7, 126 per person. That’s a lot of money to pay every year for something that can be prevented by something as clear as changing your diet.
Now this isn’t to say that diet is the sole cause of these preventable diseases. Exercise, tobacco use, and too much alcohol also play a huge role, but diet is something you have complete control over and you already participate in everyday. If you think about the total costs, not just the immediate one, it really can be a scary picture. If you are unhappy with the way you feel or your body looks, diet is crucial to seeing changes. You may be paying psychological costs now as well as medical costs later. If you are looking for information on where to start, check out our article on Taking Control of Your Diet.