The Mediterranean Diet is proven to help you lose weight and save money on groceries.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that, over the past 20 years, obesity has been on the rise. One-third of adults and 17% of children in the U.S. suffer from obesity. As if this wasn’t bad enough, the CDC also reported in 2008 that obesity-related medical costs came in around $147 billion. The medical bills of an obese person weigh in about $1,429 more than an average sized person. In other words, being obese is as bad for your wallet as well as your body.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that our lives depend on quitting fast food, processed food, and reducing our meat intake. Unfortunately, a big draw for these unhealthy foods is that they’re cheap. If you’re on a tight budget, you might think you can’t afford to eat healthy foods, even if you wanted to. Luckily, there’s good news. A study done by Dr. Mary Flynn suggests that people who eat a Mediterranean diet will improve their health and cut their food costs.
What is a Mediterranean Diet?
Like the name suggests, a “Mediterranean diet” consists of foods eaten in Mediterranean countries, such as Greece and parts of southern Italy. This diet is largely plant-based, and olive oil is a major ingredient. The following are a list of typical Mediterranean foods, in order of importance:
- Legumes (beans)
- Olive oil
- Dairy (yogurt, cheese)
- Herbs and spices
- Reduced Grocery Bills
Dr. Flynn’s experiment focused on people living in low-income housing and who were dependent on food pantries. Researchers asked them to attend Mediterranean cooking classes for six weeks. In these classes, they learned how to make plant-based dishes that incorporated olive oil, whole grain pasta, brown rice, fruits and vegetables. After the classes, they received a bag of groceries containing ingredients for the dishes they learned to make.
Six months later, Flynn and her team followed up with the participants and found that everyone had incorporated the Mediterranean diet into their eating habits, cutting down the amount of meat, soda, desserts and snacks they purchased. They reduced their weekly food cost in half, saving almost $40 a week. The food pantry also saw a 14% reduction in visits. Before the study, 48% of the participants qualified as “food insecure”; after the study, that number dropped to 33%.
Even though Flynn’s study didn’t focus on the health impacts of a Mediterranean diet, she also found that half the study’s participants lost weight. This is important because it suggests that families on a tight budget can still afford to eat healthy.
Even if this wasn’t the case, and you had to spend a little more money to improve your eating habits, you would still save money in the long run by reducing your risk for heart disease and other obesity-related illnesses. Medical bills are the number one cause of bankruptcy in America. The healthier you are, the fewer trips you’ll need to make to the doctor’s office.
Have you experimented with a Mediterranean diet? How did it affect your body and food expenses? Share your experiences in the comments section.