Months ago I discussed the surge in sales of Spam, Dinty Moore stew, Hormel’s chili and cheap win.
Now it’s only right that I talk about the surge of your stomach.
Despite the supermarkets of America bombarding customers with sales, it seems grocery shoppers are still opting to go as cheap as possible with their food purchases. That means healthier foods have given way to fast food restaurants, canned goods and frozen dinners.
As a result, folks are getting fatter and setting themselves up for a date with diabetes.
"Eating healthy has been one of the big casualties of this economic downturn," says Harry Balzer, chief industry analyst at NPD Group and author of the research firm's annual "Eating Patterns in America" report. "Last year, consumers cut back on eating 'better-for-you' and organic foods."
In an online survey this summer of 1,200 people about food affordability, conducted by food-industry research firm Technomic, 70% of respondents said healthier foods are increasingly difficult to afford.
"Value is what counts to consumers right now," says Bob Goldin, executive vice president at Technomic. "And, unfortunately, in the minds of many consumers, a lot of these lower-priced options are just not as healthy, but they're still buying them."
Black people: Is that 99 cent black taco at 3:00 a.m. worth the extra pounds?
If that weren’t enough, food shoppers are also snacking like crazy – going with chips, mini-burgers, candy and other stroke-inspired snack foods in the place of meals. As someone who recently lost their health insurance, I can’t play around like that.
I’m not going to pretend I’m a health guru, but as an ex-fatty on a budget, I can offer some advice:
1. Go run. If you need motivation, pretend you’re running from a bill collector.
2. You don’t have to fry everything. That’s what $20 George Foreman grills are for.
3. Lay off the soda. A new study reveals the artificial sweeteners used in soda (particularly diet soda) increases the risk of kidney decline. I’m keeping my kidney, so learn to wade in some drinking water.
4. Stop being lazy and cook. You can get quick recipes from Google and Bing.
5. There’s big and beautiful, and there’s big and greasy. If you show up to an interview looking bloated with bad skin and black taco breath, what are the chances of a hiring manager giving you the side-eye? Don’t starve yourself, but no good can come of you treating chips and cookies like chicken and crab.
Leave your own fitness-on-a-fixed-budget tips below.
Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.