Eat more whole grains! Eat more fresh vegetables! Choose lean meats! Health authorities practically shout this advice at us. But buying these healthier foods means that a family of four will spend about $1,500 more each year even if they shop at the same stores where they usually shop, according to a small study.
Parents of children with diabetes are told to feed their children a diet that is low in fat, the researchers noted, but this study shows that it can add a significant expense. The study looked at 23 families in Kansas and Missouri that included children with type 1 diabetes who was under age 7. Researchers then went to the grocery stores and supermarkets where those families usually shopped to find out the lowest non-sale price for items on a typical shopping list for a family of four. Then they did the same for a diet using healthier substitutes for items such as dairy, meat, canned fruit in syrup, and bread. Switching in the healthier items reduced the grams of total fat on the shopping list by four-fifths and quadrupled the amount of fiber.
But the average price for two weeks worth of foods on the healthier shopping list was $380.07 compared to an average of $324.71 for the less-healthy choices. The researchers also found that independent stores and smaller stores didn't have many options for whole grain foods or fresh vegetables.
However, the researchers note that there are affordable food choices that may be overlooked. Although fresh vegetables and fruit are recommended, frozen vegetables and fruit can be less expensive. Oatmeal is a readily available and affordable option as a whole grain.
The researchers noted that a healthy diet for someone with type 1 diabetes is not very different from a healthy diet for anyone. Healthcare professionals can help all their patients improve their problem-solving skills in buying healthy, economical foods.