Diabetes, The Economics of Eating Healthy, and My Family’s Story

by Brittany Sherman

America, the wealthiest nation on Earth promotes healthy food everywhere one may turn. Lifestyle changes and better habits can support a person on this change to become healthier, or to head down a healthier path. Although eating healthy has been promoted everywhere you look, it has not been easily followed. One may think that healthy foods are something appealing but the costs of healthy foods in comparison to unhealthy foods will make you rethink food choices. Has anyone ever noticed the price of a salad at McDonalds as opposed to a hamburger? Even in the grocery stores, unhealthy foods appear to be cheaper. For example, a pack of pork steaks come about six in the pack and cost about $3.68. A pack of beef steaks that come four in the pack may cost $6.75. These prices are not exact, but they show the point being made. How can one eat healthy foods if they’re unaffordable?

Business Wolfman by Jose Gordillo

Business Wolfman by Jose Gordillo

In 2005, my mother was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. The doctor informed her that she could control it with medicine and diet change. When he suggested that she stop both smoking and eating greasy foods, she almost lost her mind. For the sake of her health, we tried to stop frying so much food and help her quit smoking. As we began this diet change, I noticed that the budget price that had always been set for groceries had risen significantly. When I noticed this, I made a mental note to myself to pay more attention to what I was buying so that I could figure out where the rise came into play. Assuming that all meats had been the same price before this experience, I’ve never checked the prices of meats. So when I returned to the grocery store the next month and priced all of the different items I had purchased, the rise in price from meat and other healthy foods, such as salads, fruits, and vegetables and other various items had shown me where the price change came from. Looking at these foods versus pizza and fries or pork chops and other unhealthy snacks and food proved to be unnerving to me. The pricing of unhealthy food had just changed a budget that supported a family of six.

We even tried baking and grilling everything to keep from buying beef, due to the costs being more than our budget would sometimes allow. It baffled me just to see this because pork always seemed to be soaked in so much grease. It did not matter if baked or fried; pork just had too much fat to be considered healthy. How does one become something other than a junk food person if all of the healthy foods are overpriced? Since pork provided part of the original problem, we substituted with chicken, which is something cheaper as well but a person does not want to eat the same meat all of the time. The need for variety made this somewhat difficult. Eventually it worked out for the better; we all regulated our diet and the house budget to get everyone what they needed.
My mother, an important person in my life to my siblings and I, still had work to do. We decided that since she was not the only one with a problem we would take the health journey with her. Though we did not have diabetes, we could all use the healthy eating and no smoking. This is what actually saved my youngest sister, who at this time was overweight and working on more diseases than just diabetes. My grandmother and her mother fought with the same disease. My aunts all had it as well. So the diet change really had not been the worst thing in the world we have endured. The results from eating healthier foods have been that my mother does not have to use self-injected insulin or go to dialysis three days per week. Another great result is that my youngest sister was no longer in danger of being sick from this disease now cooks for my in aspirations to be a chef. My mother still controls her diabetes through medicine and healthy diet habits.

My sister has opted to become a healthy chef and has decided to maintain her status as well. She has done some research on healthy meals for diabetics and she likes to try the new ones on my mother. She has been much healthier since our journey began. She enjoys trying new recipes with the things she has researched. I like explaining to people the costs of beef versus pork or the costs of a salad versus a hamburger. It’s something that should be known so that maybe we can change it. The cost per meal may be higher, but in the end, worth it. My family is still here enjoying life. There is not a price that can be put on the health and well-being of my family.

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