Deciding to start eating a healthier diet and reduce sugar consumption is easy, but making it happen is the tricky part. Most people find it difficult to change their eating habits and tend to give up on their goals. A healthier and happier life relies on making wise choices in terms of physical activity and nutrition.
The latest study revealed you could eat less sugar and make wiser diet choices by sleeping longer. But eating healthy is not necessarily cheap either. In today’s article, we will be talking about the link between sleep and diet. But we will also be sharing 18 tips that are meant to help you eat healthily and save money at the same time.
Sleep and Diet
Sleep is deeply connected with our physical and mental health. After all, sleep deprivation is a major risk factor for numerous health conditions, and it contributes to stress, anxiety, and other problems. What most of us overlook is that the amount of good night's rest influences our diet choices too.
Evidence shows that short duration of sleep could be a modifiable risk factor for obesity, but only a few studies aimed to investigate this subject. Dr. Wendy Hall and a team of researchers at King’s College London carried out a study to assess the effects of extended sleep on dietary intake and quality (1).
Longer Sleep Equals Lower Sugar Intake?
They enrolled 42 participants aged between 18 and 64. All men and women were habitually short sleepers who got 5-7 hours of sleep every night. Participants' BMI was 18.5-30, and they were healthy (no diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other health problems). Scientists assigned participants to two different groups:
- 21 participants were assigned to the sleep extension group where they undertook a 45-minute sleep consultation whose objective was to prolong their time in bed by 1.5 hours a night
- 21 participants were in the control group and received no intervention that would change their sleep patterns
Each participant in the first group also received a list of four appropriate sleep hygiene behaviors that were personalized specifically to their lifestyle. For example, they were advised to reduce or avoid caffeine intake, not going to bed full or hungry, among other things.
Men and women who took part in the study were advised to keep a food diary for seven days. Throughout the study, they carried a wrist-worn motion sensor whose purpose was to measure how long they were awake before falling asleep and the duration of sleep too.
Results, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that 86% of participants from the first group extended their sleep duration between 52 and 90 minutes. Interestingly, getting more sleep can lead to healthier food choices (2).
Scientists discovered that extending sleep patterns were associated with a 10-gram reduction in sugar intake compared to baseline levels. Not only did participants from the first group decrease consumption of sugar, but they also reduced the amount of total carbohydrate intake too. These findings only confirm that the duration of sleep is strongly related to the quality of one’s diet.
How Can This Study Help You?
Dr. Hall explained the effects of longer sleep on the reduction of sugar intake suggest that a simple lifestyle modification may help people make healthier diet choices (3). Most people find it easier to change the sleep duration.
That’s why this simple lifestyle tweak could help you make necessary changes in your diet too. Scientists plan to investigate this subject further, particularly in people who are at high risk of obesity and cardiovascular diseases.
18 Amazing Tips for Eating Healthy on A Budget
1. Plan your meals
One of the greatest healthy eating hacks has to be meal planning. Meal planning can take only a few minutes and then save you tons of time and money over the week (4). All that you need is a piece of paper and a pen. Start by scanning your fridge and pantries and see what products you have. While you are there, make sure to throw away any food that many have gone bad and, of course, any unhealthy food. Then, think of some recipes that would allow you to use these products. Add the missing products to your grocery list, and you are done!
Some people like to plan their meals each day. We would recommend choosing one day a week, preferably over the weekend, when you will take time to plan your meals and go grocery shopping. You can plan all three meals and snacks for each day or choose to only plan your lunches and dinners. Some people skip breakfast or dinner and make lunch their main meal of the day. Whatever works for you is fine as long as meal planning is saving you time and money.
2. Never leave the house without your grocery list
We mentioned writing a grocery list as a part of the meal planning process. Even if you do not want to plan each of your meals, it is good to always carry a grocery list with you. But here is the trick – You would also need to stick to it as well. No unintended and often expensive purchases. No buying sneaky junk food and snacks. Stick to your commitment. And if you consider handwritten grocery lists a bit too old school, you can always download an app on your smartphone. That way, you will never forget your list at home (5).
3. Cook more at home
There is no doubt in our mind when we say that eating out is way more expensive than cooking at home. Sure, it does save you a lot of time, but is it really worth it? Take out, and restaurant food is often filled with unhealthy fats and too many carbs. Just think about all of the money that you are wasting buying takeout food when you can cook at home (6).
If you are not a fan of homemade meals, put effort into making them fun and delicious. There are many healthy and easy recipes that you can try. From homemade salads, soups, main meals, and even salad dressings, there are millions of recipes to choose from.
4. Give meal prepping a try
While we are talking about cooking more at home, we have to mention meal prepping. If you were to try meal prepping, you would cook all of your meals for the entire week. Of course, you would first need to plan your meals and go grocery shopping, which is why this is the usual weekend activity for most people. Again, you can cook all of your meals or choose to cook only one to two meals per day.
Meal prepping is great for anyone who is busy during the week and rarely has any time left for cooking. You can easily store all of your meals in the fridge and simply reheat them as desired. Give it a try and see if meal prepping can save you, too, some money and time (7).
5. Use the sales to your advantage
Supermarkets tend to have weekly discounts and sales that you most definitely want to take advantage of. It will take some extra work and planning, but if you do it right, you can save a lot of money. This, of course, refers to buying products that can last longer. It can be anything from frozen fruits and veggies, canned beans, rice, oats to olive oil. Be smart about it, and only buy what you need. Otherwise, you will end up throwing your food away and, with that, wasting money.
6. Eat less meat
Meat is an important protein source in our diet (8). But here is the thing – it is not the only protein source that you can rely on, but it sure is a pricy one. Eating less meat and eating more legumes, eggs, canned fish, and seeds can save you some money (9). Try eating meat no more than one to two days per week. The rest of the week, plan your meals so that they include more of the other protein sources that we discussed. You will still have a healthy and balanced diet while also saving some money too.
7. Always buy seasonal produce
Seasonal produce is often way cheaper than exotic fruits and veggies. With the exotic produce having traveled half the world to get to your supermarket, it makes sense why they would charge extra. So, be smart and save money by sticking only to seasonal produce (10).
An extra tip that we have for you is to always buy the bag whenever possible. Buying fruits and veggies by piece is often a lot more expensive. And if you end up not needing it at the moment, you can always store it in the freezer for later. It will be good as new.
8. Stock up on frozen fruits and veggies
Buying frozen fruits and veggies is a great money-saving option as well. Frozen berries, pineapple, spinach, peas, and edamame are perfect to stock up on (11). They are just as tasty and nutritious as fresh fruits and veggies. Plus, they are available all year long and at a much lower price. And most importantly, they will prevent waste, which is a big issue right now.
9. Try buying in bulk
Bulk buying is yet another money-saving option. There are several foods that you can purchase in bulk. Oats, rice, quinoa, beans, lentils, and even popcorn kernels are perfectly fine when stored in an airtight container for a long period of time. You can even purchase dried fruit and nuts in bulk. These staple foods are often inexpensive and still delicious options when bought in bulk. Luckily, there are many supermarkets nowadays that sell these staple foods in bulk. So, you do not have to worry about driving from one store to another until you find what you need.
10. Cook larger portions
If you decide that meal prepping is not for you, the least that you can do is to cook larger portions of food. Stews, soups, salads, and meat can all be prepared in large portions. When you are done eating, simply store the leftovers in your fridge or even freezer. That way, you will always have a meal waiting for you whenever you may need it. This is another great time- and money-saving option that you need to try.
11. Take a homemade lunch to work
We go to work each day. Many of us are used to eating breakfast and even lunch at the office. But then again, how many of us are thinking about the money that we spend on food? Most of us are grabbing coffee and store-bought lunches at our break without giving it a second thought. Well, here is an idea. Why not pack a lunch for every day this week? Then, at the end of the week, see how this small action has reflected on your budget.
We are sure that you will be seeing a rather positive change. It can take as little as 10 minutes to prepare lunch. You can even take those leftovers or spend some time preparing a salad, oatmeal, or a sandwich, all of which are perfectly good options. And while we are here, consider preparing your coffee at home as well. Get yourself a sustainable to-go coffee cup and take it everywhere with you.
12. Buy generic brands
Most bigger supermarket brands are now offering their generic brands of food. They are perfectly safe to use, although they may be of a somewhat lower quality than expected. Always make sure to check the ingredients list. Otherwise, you have no reason to be worried or to ever avoid these cheap brands.
13. You do not have to always buy organic
Many of us like to stick to organic produce. Organic produce is free of harmful pesticides, which is always good for our health. However, organic produce indeed comes with a bit of a high price. But it is also true that you do not necessarily need to be paying such a high price, buying all of your products in their organic form.
Eggplant, asparagus, avocados, pineapple, onions, and mushrooms are some of the foods that are marked as clean. Spinach, strawberries, tomatoes, and celery are, on the other hand, better off when purchased as organic. To make things easier for you, we will link the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen list (12). In this list, you will find all of the dirty and clean foods that you need to keep an eye on.
14. Eliminate junk food
If you analyze the receipts, you will be amazed at how much you are paying for all the junk and processed food that you love. Processed food and snacks are usually filled with way too little nutrients and yet sold at a very high price (13). Simply compare the price of a bag of potato chips and an apple or even a homemade salad.
Eliminating these foods will not only save you a lot of money, but it is also one of the easiest ways to transform your diet as well. Plus, if you fill your kitchen with healthy food, you are more likely to cook it and actually eat it. If there is no junk food and you are not ordering it, how would you ever consume all those empty calories?
15. Drink more water
Unless you are buying bottled water, water is a free and healthy drink that you should not miss out on. Water is also incredibly hydrating and beneficial for your health (14, 15). However, we often go about our day without a single sip of water. Then again, we rarely forget to drink all those sodas, energy drinks, coffee, and whatnot.
Our advice would be to purchase a nice water bottle that you can take everywhere with you. And if you do not like the taste, you can always flavor your plain water by adding lemon drops or even a few pieces of cucumber. You would be amazed by the rich and flavored taste of your water.
16. Take a trip to the Farmers Market
We are all used to grabbing our fruits and veggies at the supermarket, but have you ever considered going to the Farmers Market instead? The fruits and veggies that you will find on the Farmers Market are often less expensive and fresher. Some offer perishable items at discounted prices. These are still perfect for eating, and they will save you money as well.
17. Avoid grocery shopping on an empty stomach
A lot of us are making their usual grocery trips on the way back from work. But that usually means that we are grocery shopping on an empty stomach. This is one of the greatest mistakes that you can make. Shopping hungry will only increase the risk of purchasing items that are not on your grocery list. These items are usually unhealthy and expensive. So, do yourself a favor and grab a quick snack before you head to the supermarket.
18. Create a garden in your backyard
If you are living in a house, consider using your backyard as a garden. Other than flowers and trees, you can also grow your own fresh produce. Think about it for a moment. Seeds are quite cheap to buy. Sure, it will take you some time and patience, but it will be worth it. You can grow just about anything. From tomatoes, onions, and sprouts to even herbs, all of these can come from your very own garden. While you will be saving money, the best thing about it is that you will always have fresh produce. Keep in mind that this will also be organic produce free of any GMO, just the way you like it.
A team of scientists from the King’s College London discovered that longer sleep duration was positively associated with a reduction in sugar intake and overall healthier diet choices. These findings show that a simple lifestyle change can give you a much-needed boost to improve the quality of your diet. And we hope that our 18 tips will be enough to help transform your diet and save you a ton of money. Eating healthy does not have to be expensive nor complicated. Stick to the basics, eat healthily, and save money at the same time.