Living Frugally: Healthy Choices and Your Wallet

As I write this, I’m watching a documentary, A Place at the Table, which covers the atrocity of hunger in America. While the topic of hunger existing in a country with more than enough food is a topic worth investigating, there is another reality brought to light in this documentary that we’ll address here: Those who are too poor to feed themselves well are also the sickest among us, and therefore, spend the most on medical care.

Dr. Mariana Chilton, founder of Witness To Hunger, notes “Any kind of nutritional deprivation, however short that it could be in those first 3 years of life can have lifelong consequences for a child. It effects their cognitive development; their ability to get along with others. They could be constantly sick, constantly getting infections because they’re not well nourished. It can truncate a child’s developmental potential whether or not it affects their growth outcomes, sort of their physical… their stature and their weight… It affects their brain in a much deeper level.”

Kids are just smaller versions of you and me. The human body doesn’t build up an immunity to malnutrition as it gets older. We simply carry with us the effects of what happens to us as children. This film also featured a decision, a health choice, brought to Congress and the direct result of the choice that was made.

Fruits and Vegetables

David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, stated “The President proposed an additional one billion dollars a year to strengthen child nutrition programs and he was very clear, let’s take that money away from some of the least justifiable payments to affluent land holders.” Unfortunately, that part of his proposal died within 24 hours. Both the Congressional agriculture committees said “No way, you’re not touching that.” I hope this makes you as mad and irritated as it made me. I thought to myself that their priorities were obviously misplaced. (Hold onto that thought.)

Considering the words of these two professionals working on the front lines of combating hunger, it is clear to see that the health choices made by those in power have helped contribute to many of the illnesses across our country. And what’s one very important place sickness affects all of us? Our wallets! Let’s bring this issue to our backyards, shall we?

A doctor has said to you that malnutrition can cause mental and physical problems which will greatly impact you and your family. Combine that with the real-life example of Congress choosing to ignore the problem of hunger. Long-term hunger leads to malnutrition, then to sickness, and on to high medical expenses which of course, leads to financial bondage of many American citizens.

Questions you should ask yourself:  Are you just as guilty as Congress on a smaller scale? Are you holding onto the cable TV while saying you can’t afford fruits and veggies? Do you Cable TVspend more on birthday presents than on healthy foods which will enrich your diet, and therefore, help keep you healthy? Do you insist on buying the special edition DVD instead of stocking the fridge with cancer-fighting broccoli?

Earlier I mentioned the irritation I felt towards Congress and its short-sighted decision. I’m guessing you felt the same way. However, do you feel the same way about your poor choices, or are you following in Congress’ footsteps?

What decisions do you make on a daily basis that positively or negatively impact your health?

Blogger-in-Chief here at RetirementSavvy and author of Sin City Greed, Cream City Hustle and RENDEZVOUS WITH RETIREMENT: A Guide to Getting Fiscally Fit.


  1. I’ve requested a copy of A Place at the Table. The Living Frugally section here on Retirement Savvy always sparks a thought. I’m particularly fond of …

    Are you holding onto the cable TV while saying you can’t afford fruits and veggies?

    I’ve always thought [& said] it is expensive to eat healthy both as I hold on to bills; wants rather than needs that can be eliminated and used for purchasing healthier foods and savings.

    • I think you will enjoy the documentary, Brian. It makes a lot of interesting observations with regards to “how” certain foods are more readily available, how a household’s economic situation factors into which foods they choose, and of course, the resultant relationship between the foods we eat and our health. I have said it more than a few times, but I will say it again, people underestimate the connection between fiscal & physical fitness.

    • Thanks for reading and for your comment. It’s very freeing to realize you can let go of something in order to have something that would benefit you better.

  2. A place at the table is a wonderful documentary. And yes I am absolutely pissed off that Congress would choose not to aid with the hunger problem in the US because they would upset the rich by taking money from them. Just another thing added to the list of reasons I have lost faith in our Government.

    As far as my family’s nutrition,I believe we eat fairly well. We have fruit and veggie days sometimes. I have been making healthier soups, and we do believe in being physically fit.

    • Thanks for joining the conversation, Karen.

  3. Excellent post, Taz. It’s hard to deny that malnutrition early in life can set our children up for a lifetime of ill-health, as well as poor health choices themselves. You make a very good point about trading cable TV or some other nonsense for healthy food. For the sake of our children we should all make healthy food a priority over entertainment or material items. I will look for this documentary on Netflix.

    • It is well worth a viewing, Kay. One of the things I found most interesting – one of the observations that is made – is that 25-30 years ago processed foods were expensive and fresh fruits/vegetables were cheaper. Flash forward to the present and an environment where the government subsidizes farmers of foods (e.g. corn, wheat) that end up as processed foods/snacks, yet do not subsidize many fruit and vegetable farmers. Therefore, what you get is a situation that is now completely reversed, processed foods are super cheap and good fresh fruits and vegetables are more expensive. And of course, when push comes to shove and you have a limited food budget, what are you going to buy?

      Such a vicious cycle. You have less money, you buy nutrient poor foods, you have more health problems, you incur debt trying to manage your health, you’re less able to save/invest in your future….

      • James, the vicious cycle you refer to, in my opinion, is someone’s greed-based plan. I highly doubt that nutritious foods costing more than govt-subsidized foods which profit big business is just a coincidence. That’s a topic I could speak on all day wothout gettingntired. It’s very irritating!! I’ll stop typing now 🙂

        • No doubt that there are some benefiting handsomely from the current system!

    • Thanks for the comment Kay. The connection between health choices and financial freedom can no longer be ignored and the health of our children must be given a higher priority than entertainment, especially when the entertainment (more often than not) isn’t really all that great for us in the first place. I was really impressed by this documentary, as James points out, it’s well worth the time invested in viewing it. My wife and I have added it to our “must purchase” list.

  4. Agreed that A Place at the Table is an excellent documentary that gives great insight into why some of the food choices are made and the factors that influence the available choices. The wife and I have watched it a couple of times already. In fact, I have been meaning to cover it as a SavvyRecommendation. For those that might be interested in seeing it, it is available for streaming at Netflix.

    • It was a very enjoyable documentary. I highly recommend it. It definitely served to strengthen my belief that eating healthy leads to being healthy which leads to less money spent on trying to get healthy.

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