Most people these days eat for pleasure. I am of the opinion that you should eat for the purpose of making your body stronger and healthier. Unfortunately, many rely on fast food to provide their daily sustenance, and this can be a disaster. Fast food is designed to make you crave more of it, and it is easy to overeat with all the fat and sugar and salt they fill these things up with. Healthy eating begins with cooking for yourself and your family.
A healthy diet doesn’t have to be expensive. Grocery stores are usually close, unless you live in an inner city food desert or way out in the country. We are lucky in my area to have a wide selection of stores with reasonable prices and a good stock of food. When buying food you should think about what you need in your diet, protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. You should also consider the vitamins and minerals you will need to grow strong and healthy.
The most expensive nutrient will usually be the protein. Unless you are following a plant based diet for some reason, this means meat, fish, dairy, and eggs. Perhaps the cheapest meat will be chicken. You can get boneless, skinless chicken breast around here for $1.99 a pound or less. This makes protein from this source about two cents a gram. I can get lean ground pork for $1.49 a pound. Milk has gone up recently to $2.59 a gallon, and eggs come in as the cheapest protein source at $1.59 for 18. Beef and fish tend to be more expensive, but if you watch the sales you can usually find ground chuck for $3.99 a pound. I tend to avoid fish recently because of the polluted state of the waters of the earth, but it is occasionally on my menu.
Carbohydrates will be the cheapest of the macronutrients. White rice can be had for under a dollar a pound, and a pound of rice goes a long way. White potatoes are available at $1.99 for five pounds, sometimes less. It helps to shop around. Sweet potatoes are about a dollar a pound, as is hard squash. Oatmeal is on the pricey side, but it only takes a little for breakfast. Fruits and vegetables are more expensive and don’t keep as long, but they have good vitamin and mineral content.
You will have to look around for deals on healthy fats like olive oil. In general you should avoid adding a lot of fat to your diet, though some fats like the omega-3 fatty acids are essential. I can get a liter of olive oil for $3.99 at the fruit and vegetable market, and ground flax seeds and walnuts are a good source of omega-3s from a plant source. Some margarines are made without hydrogenated oils, but you will have to read the ingredients. In general I use butter, but use it sparingly or not at all on things like vegetables.
The things to avoid on a diet designed to build strength and muscle are sugars, excessive fats, and fast-digesting carbohydrates like white bread. One combination that will certainly lead to excess body fat is that of sugar and fat, as found in cookies, cakes, donuts, and ice cream. Dessert is not your friend when you are trying to build healthy muscles, bones, and organs. This also rules out things like candy and chocolate bars. Do you want to be fit and healthy, or are you all about satisfying some food lust for sweet, greasy food? You should eat to live, not live to eat. For a graphic depiction of the effects of eating an unhealthy diet, watch any episode of 600 Pound Life.
It takes time, money, effort, and not a little skill to provide a healthy diet for yourself. You don’t need to be rich or a genius to figure this out. Start by reading up on foods that will promote health on the Internet. Get some ideas for interesting meals and make a list of the ingredients you will need to make these foods. Go to a grocery store and purchase what you need. Then plan ahead for your meal and start cooking. Food prep will take a couple hours out of your day, but you can plan ahead and make extra and keep it in containers in your refrigerator for those times when you want a quick, convenient meal. With a little work and planning you will have healthy foods that will benefit your body and not turn you into something resembling Jabba the Hutt.