Tuesday 13 April 2021
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Is eating healthy really more expensive?

  • The impression is that it is expensive to eat right.
  • I believe that it is not expensive to eat right if one can be smart about it, and know where or how to bargain on fresh produce.
  • This is how an average household in Namibia spends on its food budget in percentages:
  1. Meat ( including Beef/Lamb/Pork and Chicken) = 30%
  2. Pap,Rice and  Macaroni = 20%
  3. Oros ,Juice and Fizzy drinks = 10%
  4. Bread and Cereals = 15%
  5. Butter/spreads/Oils/Milk = 10%
  6. Fruits and Vegetables = 10%
  7. Snacks = 5%

If we have a look at these figures we see that in actual fact, most households spend the most on meaty, starchy, sugary products more than on fresh produce.

If we were to swop the ratio of meat and starches with fruits and vegetables around, we would realize that vegetables and fruits can cost just as much as we spend on the meat or less and they give us greater benefits. And in actual fact, it is recommended that half of your plate should contain fruits or vegetables, one quarter of the plate is starch and the other your protein.

Most people in the working class in Windhoek do not take lunch boxes to work. They buy their food from a chain shop or from the local vendors around town.  If one has to calculate the amount they spend on their lunches and compare with the amount to spend on healthier foods that they prepared themselves it would work out cheaper.

Most of the foods prepared in chain/take away shops are normally mass produced for the purposes of selling to make a profit. No love or health concern was applied and put into the preparation of those meals.

Some people opt to eat take-aways or any other junk foods regularly and then think that by supplementing with vitamins, this will help substitute for the lost nutrients. If we were to first of all calculate the cost of take-away and vitamins together and compare it to a plate of nutritional filled foods such as whole-grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts, the cost of the  plate would be much more cheaper than the total of the vitamin supplement and the take aways put together over a long term. It is best to eat your vitamins.

Diet is not always about losing weight. When you have a healthy, balanced diet, you maintain a healthier weight that reduces your chances of developing diseases and therefore you cut cost on doctors’ visits or any medical expenses. You improve the quality of your life, and you tend to have more energy and be more productive.

Eating foods and drinking fluids that are high in sugar , preservatives and salts  only causes you to eat more, as these foods are normally highly processed and it is as good as eating paper. You tend to eat these processed foods in more quantities and more frequently requiring you to purchase more. These foods cause illnesses, and therefore cause you to take time off from work, making you less productive and costing you more, resulting in loss of income.

We need to priorities correctly in order for us to thrive. Cutting on alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking and fizzy drinks (which are expensive habits) and replacing it with spending a little more to buy fresh foods, proper oils such as olive oil, and preparing our food in proper cooking utensils can add more value to our lives. There are no guarantees in life and so why not prioritize and spend a little more.

As Namibians, if we are to thrive, gardening, growing and rearing our own foods is a culture we have to adopt so that we become self-sufficient and pass on these cultures to the younger generations to come. It is unfortunate that we have not been receiving good rainfalls these past few years, but that cannot be an excuse.

Because even when rain was falling, this concept was as foreign as it is now. So we must be prompted now to make some changes when the rain comes, because it will eventually come.

We need to adopt the culture of planting our own herbs in pots to season and flavor our foods, instead of buying spices that are filled with salt, sugar and preservatives, which can cause cancers. We need to plant fruit trees in our gardens instead of palm trees for décor or other trees for shade and we need to consider planting herb bushes for landscaping so that it not only serves to look good but it can serve as culinary or medicinal herb for our own wellbeing.

When buying fresh produce in the supermarkets, it is wise to buy those fruits and vegetables that are in season, and usually they would be a lot on the shelves and be marked down as compared to the others. The fruits and vegetables in season normally serve us medicinally too, as they give us the necessary immune enhancing vitamins, such as vitamin C from oranges in the winter season to help fight the flu’s and watermelons providing us with antioxidants and fluids to prevent us from becoming dehydrated during the summer.


About the writer:

My name is Penehafo Hermenegilda Haitamba-Shindume, I come from Kuisebmund, Walvis Bay. I completed my high school at St. Joseph’s RC High School. I went to the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town. to study Dentistry at first, but after having found out about Naturopathy as a profession it intrigued me so much. I chose to study it instead as they had just started offering it at the University.

In our final year at university, my business partner Dr PN Mwandingi and I attended an entrepreneurship workshop that was being offered to non-commerce students on campus.

At the end of the workshop, we had to hand in a completed business plan, and our business plan won as the best business plan amongst all. We graduated in 2009 and co-founded Nature’s Way Natural Health Centre.

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