How To Eat A Healthy Diet For Cheap

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How To Eat A Healthy Diet For Cheap

How To Eat A Healthy Diet For Cheap

We are on a serious budget after my husband and I set up our own business last year and made a few misjudgements. We have two small kids. I’ve been enjoying your newsletters these last couple weeks. I’m keen to buy your e-books but I’m just wondering if you’ve noticed a recent trend in blogs and in general.

There’s a movement about “nourishing foods”. They are touting this as the best, most healthful diet ever. It’s expensive-ish to follow but they have a little guilt trip with it saying things like, “Your kids are in their important formative years. You can’t feed them cheap junk,” along with all the eco-warrior and organic foods movement stuff. I feel that people like me are afraid when they have to go on a budget because they wonder if their family’s health will suffer . Do your books give good balanced diet recipes that I know will be nourishing my kids? Did your diet when you lived on a dime contribute to your chronic illness later on?



First let me answer your question, “Did your diet when you lived on a dime contribute to your chronic illness later on?”

No. A virus or bacteria (doctors are pretty sure it’s a virus) is what caused us to become ill, not what we eat. Having said that, I do now have to go on a special and expensive diet to help try and fix some of the immune problems caused by this virus but if it works it will work out to be cheaper for me than the regular medical bills that we currently have to pay for. The diet I am currently on includes no wheat or starches, no sugar, no dairy, no corn or no beef. It’s an elimination diet. Basically all I can eat is fruits, vegetables, chicken, fish, nuts and homemade chicken broth.

Frankly, I think this new movement in nourishing foods is just putting fear into people. Unless you have some medical reason to be eating this way, I suggest that you STOP READING THOSE WEBSITES!!! I am very serious. We have gone from “learning about nutrition” to “being afraid” and that is not at all what God wants for us.

My grandparents are in their 80’s and in very good health. Most of their lives were spent eating all the preservatives that are supposedly killing us now. Before we had things like preservatives and added vitamins and minerals, people were sick and dying from malnutrition. During World Wars I and II, they discovered that the farm boys who lived off of just the “great” organic foods on the farm were very malnourished and that is why they started adding vitamins and minerals to foods. They added these things to save lives.

Having said that, there is a happy medium. You don’t have to eat all raw organic food but you don’t have to live on boxed macaroni and cheese either.

Make life easy.

  • For breakfast, eat cereal or oatmeal with a piece of fruit.
  • At lunch, with your macaroni and cheese, eat some carrots and cucumbers with ranch dressing.
  • Eat a sandwich with lettuce and tomato.
  • Make broccoli and apple slices to go with your chicken and rice for dinner.
  • Eat sliced apples with peanut butter or yogurt with granola or a smoothie for a snack.

Don’t make it so complicated. It sounds like you are overwhelmed and worrying about this is just making it worse for you.

Yes, the meals in our books are balanced and nutritious but we are moderate when it comes to food. We do not swing either way because you can go insane if you do!!! :-)


Here’s something for everyone to think about: Since the organic and eco-eating frenzy started in the late 80?s and 90?s, there has been a rise in child obesity, diabetes, allergies and many other things. It should make you wonder and stop and think. Yet, like Tawra mentioned, many people like my parents who were raised on preservatives and all the foods so many people are poo pooing are living to a ripe old age.

There is something else going on here more significant than the food we eat. We need to stop bowing down to fear and start rationally looking at the reasons that this is happening. Stress is a big factor in heart disease (and other illnesses) and fear, among many other things, causes extreme stress, yet we fluff over the fact that obsessive worrying about what we eat is causing us to be very stressed in our lives.

How much stress do you think it causes a child if you are always bugging him about not eating this or touching that or, even worse, how stressed is he when his classmates sit and eat a candy bar. Kids are torn between wanting one too and the fact that their parents have told them they will die of something awful if they eat one. Just the stress of being unnecessarily different from the other kids can cause a problem.

Honestly, the chances are just as great that I could get a horrible illness stewing over whether or not I should buy an organically grown banana and worrying about how to get the money to pay for it as they would be if I just tossed a regular banana in my cart.

You will have less illness if you are on a healthy diet? I’m not so sure about that. Tawra is on one of the strictest diets I know of. She eats nothing unhealthy yet she has been much sicker then I or say my elderly parents who eat “regular” food. She has colds, the flu and other things all the time. I on the other hand have had only 1 cold in the past 3 years.

We get so hung up on one certain area we don’t bother to think about or factor in other things like she has school age children who brings home all kinds of things – things her healthy eating doesn’t seem to protect her from. She isn’t the only one I know who eats unbelievable healthy but yet gets sick all the time.

Here’s one last point you need to really think about: Any doctor will tell you that more than 50% of illness is caused from stress. The confusion and hesitation you’re experiencing is a perfect example of that stress and what this movement is doing to people.

Moderation. Don’t go extreme in either direction.


It is important to make good choices with your food. Clearly, if all you eat is meat and bread, it’s not a good choice. Most people eat too many carbohydrates and not enough fruits and vegetables so reminding yourself to lean a little more toward fruits and vegetables and a little less toward breads and other carbohydrates is generally a good choice.

Regarding the “guilt trip” you mentioned – It’s good that you recognized that’s what it is. When you get the feeling that you’re experiencing a guilt trip, you’re probably right. In this case, there are two reasons for it. First, in order to motivate you to buy their products, many people know that if they tell you your children are going to die or be horribly damaged for life, you will buy just to alleviate the fear that it “might” be true. I remember one news promo that aired at 2:00 in the afternoon where the reporter said, “Could you be poisoning your child right now without even knowing it? … The story at 6.” If it’s really that serious, why do you have to wait 4 hours for the answer? That message is a good way to get you to buy it without really considering whether or not it’s wise or necessary.

The second reason someone may use a fear tactic is that the person has invested a lot of emotional effort in that area. Maybe the person does get some benefit from the extreme diet but a lot of people soothe their own fears and feel more like they’ve made the right choice if they can persuade everyone else that their way is finally the secret perfect solution everyone’s been waiting for.

In any case, when you feel afraid something terrible will happen if you don’t immediately adopt someone’s apparently extreme eating regimen, you’re probably being touched more by guilt than by common sense, so don’t let it scare you.



For hundreds of recipes for quick and easy inexpensive home cooked meals, check out our Dining On A Dime Cookbook.



  1. Bea says

    I personally don’t think it’s the meals made at home that are causing obesity in children and adults, and other health issues. I think that many working people eat out too much. There have been few, if any, people I work with that bring a lunch made at home. Most co-workers go out to get some kind of fast food DAILY for lunch, or have it delivered. EVERY DAY. They also refuse to walk anywhere. It cracks me up because at the building where I work some people have to park a little further away from the front door, and you should see how much they complain if they have to walk 100 feet or more. Whoa. You would think it was the end of the world or something. And at Church I would say most people live within a block or two from the Church, but they drive to Mass. WHAT? You can’t walk a block or two? They circle that Church like vultures after food to try to park almost in the Church itself because there’s limited parking there too. If they have to park a half a block or more away they get upset. So it’s not so much eating at home that’s causing people problems, it’s there unwillingness to exercise or cook homemade meals.

    • Pat says

      I totally agree. In Europe people still walk after lunch and dinner. It is a family tradition to go window shopping if you live in town or walking in the fields and woods if you live on the outskirts of town. I have many fond memories of walks with my family growing up, my daughter has the same memories now just have to see if I can give my granddaughter those same memories.

      Dieting is a balance of watching the calories and exercising or you will fail.

  2. donna b says

    I would like to jump in here. the menus and recipes in Jill and Tawra’s books can so easily be altered for I think any diet. It’s all about balance. Many recipes are for mixes you make yourself, so you’re not just saving dollars, you’re cutting out the preservatives that are in these packages.

    Lots of receipes can be altered with powered milk, low fat cheese, low fat sour cream, etc. It’s all a little bit of trial and error in the kitchen, but eventually we get there.

    Organic is easy to achieve if you have your own garden, or shop at your local fruit stand in the summer. You don’t have to have 50 kinds of organic apples from the grocery store.

    Produce can be easily washed with water and a brush. Above all, don’t stress so much, it will give you wrinkles and shorten your life!

    I’m not affiliated with these ladies in any way, but I have Dining on a Dime in my home here in New Jersey and another copy in my daughter’s house in MA. My cousen uses hers daily. I’ve said before it is a “life skills” textbrook and teaches practicality, and as usual I can’t recommend it enough!

  3. Susan J.Gardner says

    I just want to thank you all for your site.I know I use 1 or to things form here almost everyday.You are such a blessing to all of us.May God richly bles all you endeavers.

  4. grizzly bear mom says

    The malnutrition which caused “25% of inductees to be disqualified for enlistment in WWII” was probably caused by the dust bowl of the 1930s and the depression. The dust storms impacted 100,000,000 acres and reached from the prairies to New York. Using pesticides and herbicides, and fertilizers increased the yield of crops, such as increasing crop yields from 50 to 55 bushels per acre. It doesn’t increase the nutrition past the original 50 bushels. Nutrition in agricultural products is going down. Note: My numbers are only for illustration.

    Additionally, the people who are eating the eco food aren’t feeding their children items that make them fat. Children are getting fat eating fast and prepared food.

    I stress my Sunday school children to be Christian, loving, chaste etc because it’s in their best interest. I do the same with food. Appropriate stress doesn’t hurt them, it protects them. Too little stress and they will be obnoxious, obese, malnourished couch potatoes.

    Jack La Lane lived healthily to age 96 not eating meat or sugar past age 15. He ate 10 raw vegetables daily and did cardio and weight training daily. Study him to learn how to live healthily.

    • Teri says

      Hey Grizzley Bear Mom – I laughed when I read your post as at first I thought that you were stressing to your FOOD that it needed to be “Christian, loving, chaste etc because it’s in their best interest.”. But your point is well taken.

      in our house we have a lot of ingredients but very few prepared foods, other than leftovers. I have two sons ( a son and a stepson) who live away, and when they come ‘home’ for a visit, the fridge door is opened and the leftovers are pulled out with huge grins – they KNOW that these meals are well worth reheating. other than crackers, occasional breakfast cereals and some crackers, we are mostly made-from-scratch around here – and one result is that the food is fabulous. mind you, it sure helps that Mr. Pablo is an amazing cook and that he loves loves loves to make delicious meals. blessed, indeed, we are

    • says

      But then you have my 94 year old grandmother that in my lifetime (I am 46 & she helped raise me), have only seen her eat real veggies a handful of times. Her “veggie” of choice is corn if that tells you anything. When I was younger, we ate dessert after lunch AND dinner, every day. If there is a cake in the house, she can still finish it off by herself, in two days. She has never been sick, and her doctor’s have no idea how she does it. Now, I WILL say, she does have Charles Bonnet syndrome & I have no idea if that is caused by diet…but again, she is 94! :)

      Funny side note…she gave up sweets for lent one year & on the 2nd day of lent, I came home to her eating tapicoa pudding. I said “Grams, you gave that up for lent!”, she said to me “oh, tapioca is a FOOD, not a sweet.”….I was (& still do) laughing so hard about that! 😀

      • says

        Marjori maybe that is why so many now are stressed and up tight about everything – they have been told they have to give up sweets and desserts. I too remember having dessert after lunch and dinner. Now that really was the good old days. But hey your grandmother is a lady after my own heart. Love my sweets.

  5. Sandi says

    Like many other posts you have here, this is an eye-opener. For many years I’ve worried and stressed over what everyone says you ‘should’ be worried and stressed over. Looking back over my life, I see many places where I’ve been overly influenced by other people’s ‘shoulds’. I know I make mistakes (and will continue to do so), but making mistakes because someone said I ‘should’ do something when I feel otherwise is the worst. Forgiveness applies to ourselves as much as to others, so I will do the best I can with what I have, and try not to overstress about it.

  6. Grandma says

    What is a healthy diet for one person could be a very unhealthy diet for someone else.
    If my sons followed along the rule of vitamin C by oranges or citrus fruit every day they would be totally unhealthy. Their brain would rebel and they would be sick with mood swings and have severe headaches constantly. I know this because I was eating oranges and citrus every day of my life until I was around 28.
    Give another person lots of fresh vegetables and fruits and it will cause sever digestive track problems.
    So eat what makes you healthy and don’t worry about what everyone says.
    You may get a lot of lectures and rolling of eyes from them but it is your body and your health.
    The experts here in Canada are saying there is no great benefit to organic foods. Wash the vegetables and fruits and the pesticides are removed so why spend twice the amount for organic when you can get more of the regular produce. You will eat better and have more money in your pocket.
    Make small changes to your diet if you feel it is bad for you BUT don’t suddenly tell everyone you are going vegetarian for everyone. Start small so they don’t really notice there is less meat and less fatty foods. It will go over much better.
    Now a question on cooking something.
    Went to a bulk store and Don picked up some bean soup mix that he thought would be nice to try. Problem is the mix has barley and legumes and beans all together. How do you soak the beans without the barley becoming a mess of starch before the beans are soft enough to eat.
    I made a pot yesterday and had it simmering all day and the beans are still hard but the rest is done.
    Did I do something wrong? I took it off the heat and put it into the fridge when I went to bed last night hoping just sitting in the soup would soften them up. Will check it out later. If anyone has any ideas please let me know. It is rare when Don will suggest beans or even soup so I would like to make it more often if he decides to try it a bit more often. But not knowing how to get the beans soft at a bit longer than the barley.
    He liked the flavour when I said just try the liquid just hope he still thinks it is good at lunch time today. 24 hours later.

    • says

      Thank you Lynda. I got a really good deal on broccoli and cauliflower ($.99 a head) at Alidas this week so I have been eating a healthy diet of veggies each day. Anyway I was talking to Tawra and I said I wouldn’t mind eating more veggies but they make me deathly sick including severe stomach cramps. She was teasing me and laughing and said “Sure mom good excuse not to eat your veggies.” So that is why I was glad to see your post this morning. : ) : )

      What you said is true. They have been saying here for years too that if you just wash off the things they are fine too.
      I don’t know what to tell you on the beans. I don’t cook them much but maybe someone else can pop in with an answer.

      • Grandma says

        I can’t eat raw carrots or celery because they make me hungry. add dip for carrots ok and celery with cheezwhiz ok but just those and I get so hungry that if they are snacks in a diet forget it.
        Also the cauliflower and brocoli make a lot of people feel yucky due to the gas build up if they eat too much of it at one sitting.
        Seeds on strawberries and in tomatoes cause diverticulosis which is almost as painful as kidney stones
        so eat healthy for your body and system.
        off to start my bbq dinner. first one of the season and have to have the bbq on the ground instead of the porch because it is frozen down there.
        Lots of fun.

        • Nancy says

          It am so glad to hear what you said about raw carrots and hunger. I thought I was going crazy the first few times it happened.

          Also jut to clarify, not everyone gets diverticulosis from seeds in tomatoes and strawberries.

    • Teri says

      honey, too late to help your soup problem, but in the future I would smile at my sweet man and take 12 1/2 minutes to pick the beans out of the ‘soup mix’. then I would do what Mr. Pablo does – bring the beans to a boil, turn them off and leave overnight, then in the morning turn on low for several hours…. once they were done, adding the remaining ingredients would let them all ripen nicely. Beans hate having salt when they are cooking – it keeps them firm. but if you get a package from your sweetie, don’t say no, just put on a good rocking song or listen to your favourite radio show, pick out the beans (very soothing) and make it the right way.

      If you still have hard-bean soup now, I would suggest 1/2 hour in a pressure cooker if you have one… or just 6 hours more at a low simmer, adding water as required. and then you kiss your sweetie and say – hey, good lesson, let’s try making this ourselves, from scratch, and keep the bits separate until it is right to bring them together…

      • Sheri says

        You are exactly right! Every time Mommy tries to make Swedish beans, she follows the recipe. It tells her to put all the ingredients in together. Well, she always has trouble with her beans getting soft! I cook the beans first, then add everything else. My beans turn out fine!

  7. Sandi says

    Just a thought on the beans: I’ve had the best results with beans when I follow the quick soak method of bring it to a boil on the stove for a few minutes then turn it off and soak for a couple of hours. Then I drain and rinse the beans and put them into the crockpot with fresh water (reduces gas). If I try cooking them on the stove they usually burn on the bottom, so I prefer the crockpot for the long slow cook time. The crock pot will also not mush the barley as much, I put barley into crockpot soups and stews because I like the flavor and the thickening effect. I’ve not tried that bean soup mix, but I might try it this way to see how it works.

  8. Grandma says

    The soup tastes ok the beans have a bit of bite left in them and the barley is good. I simmered it for hours on the stove and the beans were still too hard so I put it all into a container and into the fridge overnight.
    Had a bowl for lunch and it was actually ok.
    I was surprised that the barley was in it since it takes such a shorter time to get soft. The lentils all cooked away so I didn’t notice them at all.
    I would like to find a really good bean soup recipe that has a bit of tomatoe in it but no molasses.
    I invented one that I liked but forgot to write down the measurements.
    oh well. going out now to help the neighbour toss his wood into the garage. Don is already out there so another 2 hands should get it done. It is cold today.

  9. Maggie says

    Just remember NOT to add any salt until the beans are cooked. The salt keeps the beans from softening. Not sure the physics of that but know that it is true. Add salt once the beans are cooked. If you have already put salt in, you may not be able to get the beans to soften any more than they are. Try another batch.
    I cannot eat fruits and veggies that have lots of Vit K or Potassium. If you check out their contents, you will see that most fruits and veggies have these. Potatoes, tomatoes, bananas are on my forbidden list yet most people don’t get enough potassium so everything you read screams that you must eat more of these items. Jill, you, Grandma and I agree, you must eat a diet that is best for you.
    Our health care group had their members do a survey to find out where we were lacking in nutritional needs. When I mentioned it to my doctor, he said I was a special case and those surveys were mostly for healthy people under the age of 40. Once you reach 40, you know your nutritional needs and must follow your own way. Hope this helps others who feel guilty for not eating “the pyramid” way or the new “by the plate” way.

  10. Mamaof4prayingformore says

    I am a huge “Nourishing Traditions” fan…but following alot of their suggestions can get expensive. I think adding one or two things at a time and not trying to do all of them. Also making as much as possible from scratch will cut out alot of additives/perservatives. Like today I made homemade macaroni and cheese instead of using the boxed variety which is loaded with junk. I think even little changes can add up and benefit our health. There is a list of the “dirty dozen” of the worst produce and if we buy organic in just these we could eliminate 90% of our pesticide exposure. If you are not buying convienance foods like cookies, chips, and such and making these things at home you can save money and boost nutrition as well. Really just having a balance and not being black or white and you can save money and eat healthy.

    • Mrs. S says

      I agree. Honestly I have never heard of “nourishing traditions” until now, but I think that finding a balance and educating yourself about the best choices for your family are so important! My family eats mostly organic fresh produce, and because of severe allergies almost everything is cooked from scratch.

      Everyone needs to leave the guilt behind and do the best they can with the information they have and the resources that are available to them. :)

    • slmac says

      LOVE your screen name! I totally agree with you! Baby steps in adding a few good things and cutting out bad things little at a time can do a world of good without breaking the bank. Just a simple switch from bad fats to good fats can do alot in how your body functions and how you feel.

      • Sheri says

        I can agree to that! My cholesterol was high. I changed to olive oil and butter from vegetable oil, corn oil, canola oil and margarine. I also changed from pork sausage to chicken. But be aware of the smoke point of your oil. If you burn your oil, now you have transfats. I use sunflower or grapeseed oil for higher temperatures. Anyway, changing my fats brought my cholesterol down with a healthy balance between the good and bad cholesterol. No medication needed! Oat bran helps too.

  11. rose says

    i know this isnt the healthiest way to eat the beans in the soup, but usually i just buy a can of beans rinse it well and then add to the soup ..
    the problem is that we like more vegi’s in our soup and less meat (well,i prefer lots of chicken but hubby would rather not so i usually keep the chicken on the side and we take as much as we want) .. but the beans i normally put in half a can and leave the other half in a container (usually still in the liquid) .. this way, we all get what we want and as much as we want (same thing wiht the rice; i dont add pasta or potatoes bc well its jsut easier with the rice for the soup) ..
    i do it this way bc some like more of some things and less than other things .. odd, i know but it works best for us .. ;D

    • Grandma says

      to be honest I rarely use beans in any cooking. So when my husband showed an interest in them I picked up a few cups of the ones he saw.
      The soup confused me by having the barley in the bean mix. I would have added it separately since barley does not need to be soaked.
      The soup turned out ok but nothing to write home to mom about.
      I prefer soups with vegetables and meat in them.
      I cut the meat up small and add the vegetables so they all have time to cook.
      We like the vegetables with a bit of bite left in them so they are small and added in the last hour of simmering time.
      If the meat is small it mixes with the rest of the soup and even my meat eater husband likes it and will taste a few of the vegetables.
      I shred the carrots so they are more just colour and corn is a good filler. Sometimes I use pearl barley as a thickener or rice if I am going to freeze the soup for another day when I add flour and make a chicken or beef pot pie or stew with tea biscuits.
      Like I said beans are rarely used in any of my cooking.

  12. Deb says

    You ladies and Mike of course are brimming with good common sense regarding eating healthy, well balanced meals. It’s not hard, fruits and veggies are still fairly reasonably priced, for the most part. With the way the world is going it really makes me laugh how much time , energy and focus people devote to something so elementary. I guess stressing about those things give people something more to think about than facing some other really tough issues we see unfolding in our country and in this world. Thanks for all you do. I love your website and books.

    • says

      Very well said Deb. It is funny that my folk’s generation didn’t give as much thought to what they ate. Then my generation came along and started the ball rolling on the “healthy eating kick” and the obsession about it. I heard the other day that my parents generation was the last healthy generation. Their diet? Sausage gravy, biscuits, chips, bologna sandwiches, canned foods with preservatives, white store bought bread lots of desserts. go figure.

      • Sheri says

        They also worked harder, watched less TV and walked more. They didn’t have super sized meals, drink soda like water. The clothes were hung out on the line, they gardened more. (Another form of exercise) they knew how to make things, instead buying. Theirs lives were more physical. There were fewer conveniences. They didn’t have to go to the gym for exercise, it was part of their lives. They only had one car, maybe and maybe a phone. They walked to their friends house. Children also used to “just go outside and play!” I know I did! We rode our bikes everywhere! We played in canyons and climbed trees.

  13. LYNDA Kling says

    I think what is in your food is a real should not be so dismissive. Processed foods contain all sorts of addotives and then there is all the GMO food around. I wouldn’t suggest being a ” food Nazi”, but I would suggest reading labels, using fresh food, and cooking from scratch. You can do this on a budget and eat well!

  14. Sandy says

    Sorry, Micheal, but we are not eating the same foods your parents ate. We have added pesticides, insecticides, airborne pollutants & all the additives that have been added to flavor, preserve & color food today.

    • says

      This is where so many people get it wrong my 85 year old parents ate foods with more preservatives and pesticides etc. then what most of us do now. I remember when the bug man would come down our street 50 years ago and we would holler get in the house here comes the bug man. Why we would do that is because it was a truck with huge fogging machines that would spray our neighborhoods with huge amounts of insecticides each week. This was in the 50’s. I also remember living in places back then where they did only organic gardening and we would have to soak the vegetables in Clorox water for so long before we could eat them because you could get tape worms and other diseases that people were actually dying from by eating these organic grown foods.

      If you want to compare the percentage of people getting deathly sick from eating preservatives and food coloring in their foods to people dying from tape worms and other things the percentage of preservatives making people sick is almost too small to compare. Of course they never mention that fact in the things against pesticides and what not having them did and still does to people when they die of terrible diseases caused from the insects and other pests.

  15. Joetta says

    I agree, we have become afraid of food, and we need to be careful about limiting healthy foods for no reason. Our parents and grandparents DID eat all the things that are now considered bad. But there was a difference. I am 60 years old, and when I grew up in 50’s and 60’s, we ate totally differently from today. Eggs and bacon were standard breakfast fare. Fruits, usually fresh, sprinkled with a little sugar were standard for dessert. Snacking was a “no-no”. Sweets were homemade, once a week or holiday occurences. Candy and cookies from the store were rare. Fast food was rare. Eating out was an occasional event. Few restaurants of any kind served dessert. Plates and portions were smaller. We got more exercise on a daily basis, just from running around and playing, or from doing housework. My mother, at 5′ 8″, stayed 130 lbs. all her life, and never joined a gym or “exercised”.

    I think special diets made be needed because of medical conditions (food allergies, diabetes, etc.), or we may need to avoid things like sugar TEMPORARILY to recover from the effects of overeating. But if we just followed a 1950’s lifestyle, we would probably have 1950’s figures.

    • says

      Thank you Joetta. I get so frustrated with 20 – 30 somethings always saying how their grandparents didn’t have all of these preservatives etc and I wonder am I the only one who grew up in the 50’s that remembers we ate boxes of Kraft mac and cheese, TV dinners, lots of sugar, fat, eggs and things like that we ate and survived. I think the things you mentioned are really what made a difference and not so much the preservatives in the food.

      We have so much money now and so much more available that we just buy mounds of food even “healthy” food and really just eat too much. I remember an exchange student we had said Americans love their food. The first time she went to a Pharmacy here she couldn’t believe they sold candy bars and food there. She said every place you go in American sales food – at our gas stations, hardware stores etc. I think she hit the nail on the head.

      • says

        Jill, you are so right. I have done research for a project on food, etc. and the influx of processed foods, convenience foods for “housewives”, etc. began around the turn of the century but really grew in popularity around WWII. I was born in the 60s and while my grandmother (an Italian) was still making most things from scratch, she drank wine and 7-up, ate pasta every day with heavy meat sauces and lived to be almost 100. My mother, however, a housewife beginning in the 50s used a lot of processed/canned foods. When I looked back over the decades it is amazing the shift from how we used to eat and how we eat now.

        • says

          I am so glad for your comment Natalie. There are some days I think am I losing my mind and really can’t remember the way it truly was so when you wrote this it makes me think maybe I’m not going crazy – of course my kids would disagree with that :) :)

    • dpenn says

      i agree totally with you.. i grew up on a farm we grew our own food.. made every thing from scratch.. and did not snack.. and worked our farm! people today are lazy and eat way to much..

  16. Carol says

    You made mention that the food manufacturers added vitamins and minerals to our food because people in the WWI and WWII days only ate what they grew on the farm. I beg to differ with that. I grew up on a farm and we never had store bought vegetables and fruits. My parents slaughtered their own meat and canned what we grew and our meals were nourishing, filling and plentiful. We were never sick or under nourished. The garbage they put in our food these days is, I believe, why so many children today have alergies and are constantly ill. What we call wheat is no longer wheat, it is refined so many times there are no more nutrients in it. We continue to make our fruits sweeter and less nourishing than in the past. Our vegetables have to be greener and prettier because poeple don’t want to see imperfections in their food so we end up eating the pesticides they spray to make them look that way. Another part to being ill all the time is we are “too” clean. We wash away all the good germs our body need to build immunity to. We shower everyday, use hand sanitizers, and wash our hands 20 times a day. Of course washing after using the restroom is important. But as in everything else these days, we go overboard.
    What it boils down to is moderation in everything and understanding that just because the manufacturers say its better for you, in most cases it is not. We have become a society that wants everything easy and fast. When it comes to sustaining our bodies that isn’t the best road to go.

  17. Mary says

    Lots of great comments here. It seems most of us agree that the main problem with Americans today is not what we eat so much as how much we eat and how little exercise we get. Children now are so fearful of everything: shootings in schools, drive by shootings, foods that are ‘bad’ for you, chemically altered foods, etc. They are no longer allowed to be children and enjoy life as a child they are forced by our media and some parents to grow up quickly and take on so many responsibilities and stress. Small wonder that teen suicides are getting more frequent. The value of life itself seems to be forgotten – the people doing all these shootings and stressing over everything they eat,drink, and do have lost track of the value of life itself. God didn’t give us life to make us worry and stress over everything. He gave us life to be lived and to enjoy our day to day being, drawing closer to Him.
    Concentrate on the important things in life – enjoying your family and friends and living life as God intended.

  18. Carola says

    Twenty plus years ago we adopted a sibling group of three to add to our family of five, later we had a big surprise making us a family of nine. Money was tight so I continually asked the Lord to take the food that we did have and use it positively for our bodies.
    My grandmother had dramatically improved her health by being health conscious long before it was the vogue, but fear was always a controlling factor in her life. Just last week I saw a huge change in our grandson who they were thinking might have autism when he was taken off the gluten and dairy he is allergic to.
    The quality of our food is not near what it was in my parents and grandparents generation but the Lord is bigger than the lack. I have come to believe that He wants me to do the best within my ability and leave the results to Him. Being a poor steward of the life He has given me does not honor Him. But I agree totally that living in fear and anxiety is worse both physically and spiritually.
    That’s my experience which seems to agree with what you shared. Thanks for the balance.

    • CJ says

      The gluten & dairy thing with Autism is amazing, isn’t it? I have a daughter on the spectrum, and we always know when she “got gluten” because she doesn’t sleep, and “got dairy” because her OCD symptoms go through the roof!

      That being said, the issue with gluten/dairy and autism isn’t the lack of quality of foods, but the way their bodies process it. It becomes an opiate, literally binding to their opiate receptors in the brain. They become addicted and like a drug. I don’t think this is something the general population needs to worry about.

  19. Fay says

    I vividly remember the feelings and dilemma you are facing. Don’t let guilt, or fear, or feelings that some medical/food guru claims to know more than you, dictate what/how you eat. We were a family of 4 with a decent food budget and still could not afford to eat. Then it hit me–buy real foods. The mixes and boxes offer small portions of food with huge portions of unhealthy additives. Also the packaging adds to the price. We all know that single serving sizes are more expensive than bulk sizes.
    Meals without the guilt are about buying a variety of the least refined foods you can with the budget you have. You don’t need the guilt because you are doing the best you can. If you still worry about nutrition-add a good multi-vitamin to the mix.
    For me, when growing up many foods were taboo because someone said “you shouldn’t have them” All this did for me as a kid was made me sneak “bad foods”. I became a closet eater. I ate healthy around family & the public and the forbidden foods when alone. No one taught me balance. I ended up quite obese because I ate when I wasn’t hungry just to keep up the facade. Took many years undo all that. I guess what I’m trying to say is that you CAN have your cake and eat it too, you just need to balance it with other foods.
    Cut yourself some slack–you are doing what you can.

  20. Birdie says

    Thank you for another EXCELLENT post. I had a friend who was organics and no meat all the way, but they have dealt with cancer. I appreciated that this friend never forced their ways of eating on me. They were always respectful and I was always respectful to them. As a little girl I watched my parent go to an health food store to make expensive purchases that they couldn’t afford. Even then I wondered why I would do that. I really enjoyed the sugar-free licorice that I was treated to :-)

  21. Ed says

    Most of the fearmongering about what we eat is done by those who would sell us the ONLY CURE, usually at shameful prices. After reading the first post, I googled “nourishing foods.” Sure enough, the first hit was for a website selling vitamins.

    The answer is simple: eat foods that are as close as possible to their natural form, in moderate amounts. Eat reasonable portions of meat, poultry, fish, and other proteins, and get most of your carbs from fiber rich veggies, frozen or fresh.

    It’s not expensive to do, either. You will save money in two ways: eating less food, and not buying junk. I realized about two years ago that only about two thirds of my food spending was for the ingredients I used to actually prepare meals (My wife and I both cook from scratch) The other third was spent on what anyone would agree was purely junk food. Voila! Food spending reduced by one third, while making our diet twice as healthy!

    At least get rid of the “three whites.” White flour, white sugar and white rice. These three are being proved more and more to be the criminals behind America’s obesity epidemic. All have basically no nutritional content yet make up a huge percentage of America’s grocery bill. Oh, and if you don’t know how to cook….LEARN :) You’ll be glad you did.

    • says

      Yes one of the first things I taught when we wrote the cookbook is that 1/3 of most grocery bills are made up of things to drink and just changing over to water would be better for you and less expensive. Junk food like you said covers another big portion. I do wonder sometimes about things and we maybe the exception to the rule but I’m not so sure about the white flour, sugar and rice thing. My parents, brother and I eat all of those regularly. So do my son and his family but we have no real problem with obesity yet I know others who stay away from those things and yet struggle with their weight all the time. This is why I have trouble with jumping on the band wagon of this item being really bad or that one really good.

      • Ed says

        Hi Jill,

        You are right about the bad food/good food thing. I find I do a lot better without the three whites, but it’s really more about intake and expenditure. Maybe it’s because I started being a lot more conscious about how I was eating.


        • says

          Also Ed we all react to different things and I thing somethings or staying away from somethings work better for different people so I think you are smart in being in tune with what works best for your own body and not always going with the crowd. For example I can’t drink coffee for a pick me up when I drink it (and I do love it although I only have about 2 cups a day) it either puts me to sleep or really relaxes me depending on the time of day. Coffee works better for me to relax then chamomile tea.

  22. Mi. Dingemans says

    Years back I was so ill with the yeast syndrom, put on a super strict diet with no sugar, yeast, dairy, corn and then they took out wheat and I dropped 22lbs in 3 weeks and was not fat at the start. It didn’t make me well, just thin, and I got better within a few days after trying Km by Matol, which got liquid nourishment into my blood that my weak digestion was failing to do. So, malabsorption of nutrients tore my health down and finding a way to get the nutrients in my body, way above any healthy vegies and lean meats I ate was my saving thing, alone! Wash your vegies well, if possible, I’d buy at least your lettuce organic and your celery as they tend to be loaded with pesticides, but other stuff I don’t spend the extra for organic. It gets too pricey and just eating enough vegies and green leafy salads, some lean meats and keeping your blood sugar steady all day, you will feel pretty well. It took me 15 years to regain that lost weight and then I felt better. The doctor nearly starved me to death. Think for yourself and you will come out fine.

    • says

      I found your post interesting because the past year or so I have been wondering myself if part of the problem with everyone is something wrong with our digestive systems. I mean somehow I don’t think a person should have to take 3000% of the recommended amount of a vitamin to be healthy. Am I the only one who thinks there is something weird in people being told to take and eat all these mega amounts of things for the vitamins? Also why in the world is it one year everyone is getting too little folic acid so we inhale bottles of it. Time passes, now we don’t have enough vitamin C, give it a couple of years vitamin B, now the rage is vitamin D. I find it all a little strange for some reason.

  23. Melanie says

    Adding vitamins and preservatives to food is I don’t think the problem. GMOs on the other hand I believe are big health risks and should be avoided. When you change the makeup of a food God created so it no longer resembles the original is not good. I don’t want human DNA or other foreign DNA introduced into my food. Many of the health problems we have today can be linked to GMOs. My family for one has a majority of the health issues. They started putting GMO into foods that we eat regularly in the early 1980’s. Interesting it is that generation that has more of these health problems at a much earlier age than the previous generation. Reproduction problems, the inability to get pg or difficulty carrying a pregnancy. It is unsettling when everyone you know has family members and friends who have lost a baby or know somebody close that has had problems. Obesity, digestive issues, allergies and joint problems are also on the list. Corn, soy, cottonseed oil and canola oil are the 4 big culprits.

    • says

      The only thing about stuff like GMO’s is first it seems like every few years they come up with a new study on something like this. What I find frustrating is the studies always say is “we think it could, it may, there is a chance, there is maybe some evidence….” in other words they have no real definite proof but yet they are stating things as fact and even in some cases if they have definite proof sometimes down the road they will find out that is wrong.

      I know I use this example often but it is one of the best and that is MSG. A doctor got sick one night eating at a Chinese restaurant.He was positive the MSG in the food was causing him to have a bad reaction so he wrote a huge report that was put in a major medical journal saying MSG was bad. Everyone was all over it and immediately had restaurants changing their recipes, canned foods and other things it was added to to be taken off of the market, pulling bottles of MSG of the shelves. A few months later the doctor wrote a thing saying he found out that it was something else that had made him sick and that MSG is made out such a natural product you couldn’t have a reaction to it. Of course this didn’t make the headlines and by this time so many changes had been made and the medical and media world didn’t want to loose face so you didn’t read much on the retraction. People have been tested and tested who swear they have an allergy to MSG and they are finding it is all in their head. These often false scares like this is what cost us money because every time a company has to change their recipe and ingredients it cost us.

      I could list other things too. For example sugar. The studies said it made the kids hyper. I never believed it because the studies were conducted on kids at Christmas, Easter and birthday parties. Kids will be hyper at these times even without sugar. Moms were all over it at the time and it became a good excuse for kids misbehaving instead of dealing with the real issue of needing to discipline their kids properly. Now they have proven by top doctors that sugar doesn’t do a thing to make a kid hyper.

      One other thing too I find it interesting that I often get comments on different peoples opinion of what they are sure is bad for us which is fine but they sometimes miss the whole point of the article I have written because they are so intent on thinking what they are going to write to state their cause. What has me concerned is if they missed the whole point of my article because of this how much of other articles and things they read on the internet do they really understand and get the facts right because they do the same thing with those. I’m just saying I’m not sure we should be dogmatic about things until we have some real solid cold hard facts and it has been tested for a few years.

  24. says

    Once there was a lady who refused to touch cow’s milk because of all the bad stuff in it. She watched everything she ate and all her kids and husband ate.

    One day she went to the doctor. The verdict was colon cancer. As she wept she asked what could’ve caused this. His arrogant reply: your diet!

    Sad to say that sweet soul died within the year. I am no doctor but as careful as she was how could it have been her diet?

    This is the lesson I learned from that experience.

    We are all going to die someday. Most of us, before we leave this life, will get some form of illness; some much more serious than others but eventually we all die.

    If all of your life is spent policing your food for whatever reason then you are missing a huge portion of living your life.

    Sadder still is the fact that the people who perpetrate this food fear, or any other form of fear, in our society do so to make a good solid dollar. If you get rid of milk you have to replace it with something else-the something else is usually what they are selling.
    Sorry, I am not jumping on their fear bandwagon-ever.

  25. Alicia Webster says

    Wonderful post–thanks to the three of you for writing it, as it needed to be said. I have three kids and they are all thin, and certainly much thinner than most of their classmates. Genetics ? Nope. Most of the people on both sides of our families are overweight. No, I made a decision BEFORE I had kids not to pathologize food. I spent waaaaaay too much time in my early years worrying about “good” foods and “bad” foods.So I decided that, when raising our kids, I would treat food as simply a part of life, and leave it at that. Just like sleeping or using the bathroom or breathing or anything else. I buy food, I cook it, they eat it. Or they don’t eat it ( in which case they then can do without ). But I just didn’t want this sense of desperation and of wanting and craving, and angst over something so trivial as our daily bread. My grandmother said, “moderation in all things is the key”, and I agree.

  26. Shelly says

    I agree, there is a lot of “fear mongering” happening about food. The best thing to do is use food the way God intended. Would the Creator have made food so imperfect that it would need supplementation by man? Hardly. Keeping it simple not only reduces my grocery bill, but helps us avoid illness as well. My husband is a Type 1 diabetic and often gets ill after a restaurant meal, and not just high blood sugars. I, myself, have something the doctor can’t name wrong with my digestive system, it processes food way too fast, but nothing hurts. I found that by not having a microwave, avoiding foods that are heated before being packaged in plastic and in general just planning a few hours ahead have given us healthier meals and less sickness. I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s on a farm and although I did get a little ‘sick’ of green beans (they were Dad’s favorite) I don’t remember being any sicker than anyone else and we ate processed and packaged foods 3/4 of the time. I just find that now, with chronic (but some what controllable diarrhea)eating as simple and fresh as possible helps a lot.

    • says

      I would be very foolish if I said eating healthy would be wrong and that is not what I am meaning when I write this but a person who is healthy can eat what I call normal food. What happens is people with special illnesses eat certain things and it helps them where it probably wouldn’t make that big of a difference for the average person so I don’t think we can say eating right will take care most illnesses. More then 75% of illness is stress related. Why are we always pushing the perfect foods to eat instead addressing stress that causes illness?

      I remember at one point years ago they said people who have a heart attack should watch their salt in take. Well everyone started doing that because any new food thing they jump on the band wagon for it but they over looked the fact that it was for people with heart problems. The food companies started taking out salt from their products people stopped using salt. Fast forward a few years and now guess what everyone and their dog is having problems with their thyroid and part of is do to the fact most Americans are not getting enough iodine in their diet and guess where you can get the best iodine? You got it good old salt. We go to extremes and it messes everyone up.

      I also I personally don’t like to say this is how God intended us to eat and not eat because there are to many things that will knock that theory out the door. Salt is a perfect example of that. God gave us salt in it’s perfect form but yet some people say the perfect diet the way God intended doesn’t include salt. The same logic applies with eating only foods Jesus ate. Well I’m sorry no matter how hard we would try I don’t think I we could grow a fig tree here in Kansas even if our life depended on it. Besides Jesus said we shouldn’t worry about what we eat and drink but when ever I run an article like this I can see many not paying attention to those words of His.

      I was reading in a book from the 1800’s taking on diet and foods. They had a whole section on diets for the elderly now I don’t consider myself elderly yet but in the 1800’s I was. One of the things in there it kept mentioning over and over that older people have to have a different diet because their digestive system is different in the same way you wouldn’t feed a 6 month old a steak. I have finally excepted the fact my body is dying and aging. I will now once again change my diet to fit my needs.

  27. Doris Hofmann says

    Ah, moderation in all things is the key to everything, not just food. I can remember when it was said that coffee would cause cancer! Well, my reply to that was, “How come there is anyone alive in South America where coffee is king?” Then it was milk that caused cancer. Wow! How come any babies ever survived? Next, we found that coffee and milk are both okay. If we listen to all of this silliness, we will go crazy. I am a diabetic and have been for over forty years. I am doing well by eating moderately almost anything I want within reason, of course. While I was growing up in the thirties and forties, I heard so often that grapes were the cure for cancer. We ate grapes like crazy and my maternal family was full of cancer of all types. I have had three cancers and am doing well, thank the good Lord for that. We have to think of heredity and lots of other things, but when it comes to eating, God put good things here on Earth for us to eat. We just have to use our good sense and, again, moderation with a capital M.

  28. says

    Just follow the money…..fear-mongering is big business and tons of people make big bucks convincing people to eat the way they want them to.
    That said, I feel a lot of obesity is about unhappiness and loneliness with “sweets and fast food” as a quick fix much like a drug. People seem to be self-medicating due to stress and a general lack of contentment in our violent and crazy culture.
    Have you noticed how many restaurants there are in your town? I do not remember seeing anything like the amount of food places when I grew up in southern California in the 50-70’s. Things have really changed and it is so easy now for people to just grab something continuously. So sad.

  29. Maggie says

    I had a liver transplant 16 years ago and was on one specific immunosuppressant for 15 1/2 years. Two years ago I began to suffer from kidney disease and (to make a long story shorter)was put on a low salt, watch your phosphorus, low potassium and watch your Vit K (taking coumadin)diet. In Sept of 2012, I went into the hospital with low renal functions and thought I was going to be put on dialysis. However, they decided to change my immunosuppressant drugs and within days, the renal function went up, my health got better and my kidneys began doing their job. Seems like I was having a reaction to the liver meds and it was killing my other bodily functions. Now, I still have to watch my salt and other vitamins and manage my diet but my kidney doctor says “everything in moderation”. If you want extra salad, only eat it one day a week. If you want broccoli, eat 1/2 cup instead of 1 cup. Again, moderation is the key.
    After reading all the above entries, I think we are all talking the same language. Exercise and eat moderately. We don’t need an entire bag of potato chips (wish I could eat them) or a double portion of steak at dinner. Eat a healthy (for you) meal and then do a project or something to take your mind off food. Get a good night’s sleep and get up refreshed for another day. Life is too short to worry about every morsel you put in your mouth.

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