Eating healthy does not need to be expensive, say Dieticians

Published Oct 21, 2020


CAPE TOWN - The coronavirus pandemic has brought to light the detrimental effect, that lifestyle diseases can have on our overall health.

Obesity, hypertension and Type 2 diabetes have been linked to more severe Covid-19 outcomes.

Around this time of the year, the National Nutrition Week and National Obesity Weeks (NNOWs) are celebrated to create awareness among consumers about obesity and the importance of eating healthy.

Dietician Mia Marais says a healthy life starts with good nutrition.

“Nearly 70% of South African women and 31% of South African men are overweight or obese, according to a recent study. This is alarming as obesity leads to diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, some cancers and heart failure amongst others. People have to know that you can live a healthier lifestyle starting with good nutrition,” she said.


It is reported that poor diets are among the leading health and societal challenges of the 21st century, leading to disability and death, growing inequalities, staggering healthcare costs and environmental implications.

“Good nutrition helps us fight many illnesses, including Covd-19. To keep your gut bacteria healthy, you should eat less sugar including sugary foods and drinks.

Bad fats and processed or red meat, and eat more whole, unprocessed foods like fruit and vegetables. You should also sleep well, avoid alcohol and smoking, and exercise three to five times a week for good immunity,” advises dietician Darinka Theron.

Meanwhile, dietician Claire De Koker says eating healthy does not need to be expensive.

“Legumes, such as lentils and dried beans, seasonal vegetables and fruit, are often more budget friendly than we think, and using them more often can save money. In addition, using less sugar and staying away from sugary or salty snacks can help you to save a lot,” said De Koker.


Tips when buying groceries on a budget:

Look out for specials – look for discounts, coupons and sales, especially on store brands, which usually cost less.

Compare unit prices (rand per gram or kilogram) listed on price tags to find the cheapest brand.

Buy in bulk when you can (e.g. purchase a whole chicken instead of just chicken breasts).

Eggs are a good source of protein and nutrients.

Dried and canned beans, peas and lentils are great sources of vegetable protein and fibre, and can be used in a variety of meals such as stews, soups and salads.

Canned vegetables with no added salt or sugar are good alternatives to ensure a sufficient intake of vegetables.

Canned tuna, sardines and pilchards contain healthy fats which play an important role in the immune system, particularly in regulating inflammation.

Long-lasting fruit and vegetables such as citrus fruits and root vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals needed for a good immune system.

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covid 19