Making Smart Choice for Your Body and Your Budget

On the set of The Biggest Loser we didn’t have meals prepared by chefs like some may think. We still had to cook our own food (and clean our own kitchens).

But one lovely treat I was exposed to on the set of the show was organic food. Until that point I had never really paid much attention to what I ate—at least not the quality of it. Eating organically was wonderful. But boy, did I ever get a shock when I came home from Los Angeles and visited our local Native Sun Natural Foods Store in Jacksonville for the first time.

I was so proud of myself. I was, for the first time in my life, shopping with a clear conscience. I strolled through the store reading labels, thumping fruit and surveying every vegetable. I wanted to fuel not just my body, but the bodies of my family members too with the best food possible.

When I got to the cash register—after the total was tallied, the cashier shared the shocking news: my total was $400! I thought for sure I had forgotten to put the little plastic divider between me and the shopper behind me.

It was a difficult lesson to learn that day, but a valuable one—and one I will share with you. Not only do I need to pay attention to what’s in my food, but in the real world I need to pay attention to the cost of my food too. As with all things you must make choices. And eating the right things may take extra time to plan or rearranging the family budget but it truly is an investment for the good of your family.

I was forced to have to be creative with my grocery shopping, like so many of us do nowdays. Being resourceful and creative is essential; especially for moms. So I’ve learned to look at the cost and the nutritional content of my food. I make sure my family has healthy veggies that don’t break the bank by choosing in-season produce, clipping coupons and planning ahead before I get to the grocery store so that I can get the most for my nutritional dollar.

Beware that sometimes the most inexpensive deals are also the least healthy. Take sugary drinks for example—they are cheap but bad for you. So you save a little in your wallet but pay for it in other ways. When grocery shopping, I like to get my 8-year-old son involved. I have taught him to read the first three ingredients on packaging.

I learned from my experience on The Biggest Loser that the ingredients are listed in descending order of predominance. The first two or three ingredients are the ones that matter most. Ingredients at the bottom of the list may appear in only very tiny amounts. Especially for things like breakfast cereals, crackers, pasta, and breads, the word “whole” should appear as the first or second ingredient, whether whole wheat, oats, rye, or another grain. I also make it a point to avoid anything containing high fructose corn syrup.

And the word “enriched” is very misleading. You could look at a food label and interpret the word enriched to mean that extra vitamins and nutrients were added to the food.

In actuality, enriched means that a food that has been processed has been re-supplied with vitamins and minerals. This means that vitamins have been lost and artificially added back.

I once heard the explanation of “enriched foods” described like this: if a robber takes the last 10 dollars out of your wallet, you’ve definitely been depleted of your immediate financial resources. However, if that robber became suddenly sympathetic to your financial situation and decided to return one dollar back to you, it is not likely that you would consider yourself “enriched.” Instead, you would just consider yourself a little bit less massively depleted of your money. And it’s the same way with grains and food processing. Enrichment really only means slightly less massively depleted.

These are just some things that I’ve learned along the way about the importance of the foods we put in our bodies. I have come to realize that having the best for my family isn’t just a financial issue it’s about teaching them what food is good for them and how to take care of their bodies.

Just as I wouldn’t want to waste money on poor choices in the food I buy; I also don’t want to waste empty calories on poor choices of the food I put in my body. In today’s economy—waste is something none of us can afford.

About Julie Hadden

I'm Julie Hadden and for the past few years I've been on quite journey. My experience on Season 4 of "The Biggest Loser" resulted in a total transfomation in my life. What started out being about what I could "lose" turned more into what I "gained." God revealed great truths to me about the infinite WORTH we all possess in His eyes and I'm passionate about sharing what I learned through this process. View all posts by Julie Hadden

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