Justifying the Expense of a Low-Carb Diet

by Jimmie

Eating low-carb is more expensive than the standard American diet. But it is worth the cost.

When you make the shift to a low-carb diet, one of the first painful areas is in the grocery budget. Ouch! No more cheap pastas, potatoes, and white rice to fill out the menu plans. Now you need to eat more fresh (or frozen) meats, vegetables, and fruits. And those food items on the perimeter of the grocery store are expensive! There are rarely any coupons for those kinds of foods, either.
But do not despair. Although you will have to spend more for food than the average American, your choices are worth it! Here are five realities that help you to justify your expensive low-carb eating habits.

Our Food Budget Has Just Doubled!

Or Tripled!
Healthy Low-Carb Meal
Healthy Low-Carb Meal

Reality One: Eating is Fueling Your Body

Yes, eating is pleasurable. But our primary goal in eating is to fuel our body so it can function at its best.

When we think of our bodies as machines that need energy, we are going to invest in the best, most efficient fuel we can offer them rather than focusing exclusively on the flavor and comfort factor of foods.

Quality food -- fresh meats, fruits, and vegetables -- is expensive just like quality gasoline or oil is expensive. You pay for what you get. Cheap foods such as white rice, pasta, and potatoes are going to give you cheap results. Paying more for a low-carb diet is worth it. Your body will run more efficiently, run with better energy, and in the long run with better longevity.

Reality Two: Junk Food is Poison

Junk food is poison.

It's not food at all. It's just junk, a collection of chemicals created in a factory.

If you can truly appreciate the damage that sugars and refined grains do to your body, you will begin to rightfully perceive them as poisons. Instead of feeling deprived when you do not eat them, you will wonder how you could bear to stuff yourself with them before you knew better.

Stop considering sugars and refined carbs a forbidden pleasure and start thinking of them as poisons.

That $.99 bag of gumdrops looks cheaper than the $2.99 pint of blueberries. But why would you save $2.00 so you can eat what is going to poision you?

Whisking in the Kitchen
Whisking in the Kitchen

Reality Three: Cooking Saves Money

Yes, food for a low-carb diet is expensive, but whenever you can make something from scratch, you are going to not only control the ingredients, buy you are also going to save money in the long run.

Initially getting a kitchen set up for true cooking is an investment. Take ordinary salad dressing, for example. You can buy the packaged kind full of chemicals, processed vegetable oils, and high fructose corn syrup for less than $2.00. To buy ingredients to make your own, you will need to spend more than $2.00. The olive oil alone may cost you $10.00. BUT you are going to have not only a delicious, healthy dressing but also plenty of leftover ingredients for another dish or more salad dressing. So in the long run, cooking wins as a cheaper alternative.

When compared to eating out, cooking is much cheaper, even when you factor in the added expense of the low-carb diet. I find I can often buy enough meat for an entire meal for my family for less than one meal at a restaurant. 

Stick it out. Invest in some quality kitchen tools and healthy ingredients. Cooking will recoup some of the money you spend by eating a low-carb diet.

Economical Chicken Quarters
Economical Chicken Quarters
Grilled Chicken Legs
Grilled Chicken Legs

Reality Four: There are Affordable Low-Carb Options

Your body, as a machine, doesn't care a lot about the type of protien you feed it. So you can pay $10 a pound for lamb or $2 a pound for chicken breast. Either will do the job equally as well. So although meats are far more expensive pound for pound than refined carbohydrates, there are meat options that shouldn't break the bank. And to feel satisfied, you don't need to eat as much meat as you would need to eat refined carbohydrates. So the comparison is really unfair.

Stick with affordable meats and splurge occasionally on expensive fish and beef that you know is good for you.

As far as fruits and vegetables, try to eat in season. When produce is in season it is not only at its best flavor but also at its most affordable price. Gorge yourself on peaches in the summer, asparagus in the spring, and apples in the fall. But outside of those times, rely on frozen vegetables if money is too tight for fresh ones.  Eat less expensive fruits and add the more expensive berries as treats or garnish.

Reality Five: Good Food is Like Medicine

This reality is the opposite of "Junk Food is Poison."

Healthy food is full of vitamins and nutrients that protect the body from illness and give vitality. You can think of them like medicine. 

One day my mother was marveling that I bought fresh raspberries. "Those are expensive!" she said. I agreed. But they are packed with fiber and vitamins. AND my family loves them. So I can think of them as natural vitamins or preventative medicine. Eating our vitamins is the best way to get them; eating healthy is a prescription for long-term health. So those expensive vitamins are growing more and more economical when I think of them as medicine.

I can pay for expensive fruits, meats, and vegetables now, or I can spend that money later in the form of pharmaceuticals, doctor visits, medical treatments, and fatigue. Those raspberries are sounding cheaper and cheaper when I think of the alternatives!

Updated: 02/27/2012, Jimmie
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whitemoss on 10/03/2011

Very sensible!

PeggyHazelwood on 09/02/2011

Good way of looking about the cost of food.

ohcaroline on 09/02/2011

You are so right about the junk food is poison. It comes down to good decisions and discipline to follow through on them. Good advice here!

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