Would You Pay a Fat Tax?

burgersThe obesity epidemic costs Americans an estimated 122.9 billion dollars a year. That’s a mighty impressive number for an incredibly preventable problem. With the health care field in crisis and discrepency over funds, I have to wonder: Would you pay extra money for your right to fattening and unhealthy food?

If an idividual makes the choice to purchase trans fat, cup cakes, and chips in lieu of fruits, veggies, and grains- why should their consequent health problems come out of tax dollars? It makes sense that one would suggest a ‘fat tax‘: a percentage of cost taxed onto items that are catagorized as ‘unhealthy’ and ultimately detrimental to health when consumed as a part of the daily diet. This is somewhat unrealistic, however, in the grand scheme of things it could be a nice new government piggie bank to throw towards the health cost of those without diet control. Would you add 1-2 percent to build health care and, hopefully, deter the people with weight and diet control problems from purchasing these foods?

I would- happily.

And I’m no angel- I love a dorito stint now and then followed by a taco bell run- but I also understand that that’s a bad choice on my end and and truthfully- I’d be willy to pay a little more. Especially since, for me, that’s not a bad habit that’s destroying my health and costing this country- its an occational treat. So the extra couple bucks I’d spend on a ‘fat tax‘ wouldn’t dent my budge.

But what would be categorized as ‘unhealthy’? It would likely take a team of experts to studyt the epidemiological trends and then weight the pros and cons of a food item. If the health risks out weigh the health benefits- tax it! And some are already taking action

Certainly some would argue that categorizing foods as ‘unhealthy’ would create very blurred lines and be unfair to those who take responsibility for their health, but, just as cigarettes we’re eventually taxed, maybe a saturated and trans ‘fat tax’ isn’t too far away.

Save Your Money, Not Your Appetite

In these ‘hard times,’ we’re all looking for ways to save a buck. But more and more, people are compromising their diet for this money saving venture. But they don’t have to! There are many ways to make grocery shopping fun, yummy, AND nutritious, without breaking the bank. The key is planning. Buying random grocery items will leave you bored and hungry in just a few days. By setting yourself up to make some hearty meals using versatile ingredients, you’ll make your dollar go farther without depriving yourself of nutrients.

Need Ideas!?

1. Whole Grain Pasta: Boxes are currently 3 for $4 at many grocery stores. There are so many ways to jazz up this grainy noodle. Add some veggie meat and tomato sauce for dinner and save the rest for a pasta salad to take for lunch the next day. You can also serve it with chicken breasts, capers and olive oil, or just toss in some veggies and parmesan. It’s cheap, versatile, and delicious.

2. Take a number!: Sure waiting in the deli is kind of annoying- but it’s worth it. It’s fresh and costs less than the prepackaged deli meats. Use it in a butter free grilled cheese, to make a chef’s salad, or heat it up with some egg and put it on a bagel from the bakery (usually under 70 cents- making your breakfast sandwich $1 and change instead of $4 or more). It’s also great in a pita or just rolled up in a cheese slice for a low carb and easy snack. Your local deli probably has some on sale too so be sure to ask!

3. Get more Cluck for your buck: Tyson’s offers chicken that is already frozen. You get more in the bag and it’s cheaper! Most of us freeze the chicken we buy anyway so we might as well buy the bargain. Just defrost a piece or two when you’re ready and cook it up. It’s great with whole grain pasta, on top of a salad or with a side or two of fresh veggies. Another option: Buy a fresh rotisserie chicken (most grocery stores sell them for under $7) and cut it up right when you get home. By buying, slicing, and storing, this easy purchase will go a long way!

4. Forget the Orgo Buzz: If the high price tag on organic produce is causing you to steer clear- forget it! More often than not people opt to skip the fresh fruits and veggies for fear that the traditional produce isle is poisonous. It’s not! Splurge on a bottle of produce wash and start bagging your goods. Having lots of fruits and veggies in your fridge means more salad, wrap, and snack options. Grab some hummus while you’re at it for the perfect veggie snack dip (or to replace mayo and other fatty condiments in your wraps and sandwiches.)

5. Forgo the pre-packaged foods!: Yes, this means a little extra effort on your end but it can result in HUGE savings, fewer calories, and fresher meals! Cut up and wash your own lettuce and veggies for an ‘on the go’ salad or sandwich stuffer. Chop up a variety of fruit and use it yogurt, granola, or as a finger food snack.

6. Make your own coffee!: Dixie makes coffee cups with lids that are perfect for travel. You can find them by the paper plates in the grocery store. Add a bag of Starbucks beans to your cart and brew a fresh pot every morning. It’ll save you hundreds of dollars and thousands of calories a year!

Where not to Skimp…

1. Don’t skimp milk, meat, and eggs. In the case of products derived from animals, organic is the better option because they’ll be free of antibiotics and hormones.

2. Get quality bread. It’ll provide more nutrients and be more satisfying.

3. Don’t get margarine instead of butter just because it’s cheaper….ew.

Planning your meals may take some creativity and a little extra effort, but putting forth that effort will be totally worth it when you see how much you can save. And it’s an added bonus that you’re getting fresher foods with more nutrients and FEWER calories!