Health Buzz: A Healthy Diet Isn't Cheap

Trick yourself into eating more fruits and veggies; how to stick with a diet.

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Following Government's Diet Advice Would Inflate Average Food Tab

Eating healthfully can drain the wallet—so much that it could make it difficult for Americans to follow the government's 2010 Dietary Guidelines, according to a study published Thursday in Health Affairs. The federal dietary guidelines implore Americans to get more potassium, fiber, vitamin D, and calcium, and to avoid saturated fat and added sugar. Actually following that advice is expensive, likely leading to grocery tabs that are hundreds of dollars higher than what the average American spends annually, the Associated Press reports. Meeting the 4,700 milligrams per day recommendation for potassium—a notoriously difficult target—alone could add $380 a year to the average American's bill. But the payoff could outweigh the cost, since sufficient potassium counters salt's ability to raise blood pressure, decreases bone loss, and reduces the risk of developing kidney stones. (Potatoes, beans, and bananas are all good sources.) For the study, researchers at University of Washington surveyed more than 1,000 area adults on their eating habits, and calculated the nutrient content and cost of their subjects' diets. Perhaps not surprisingly, respondents who spent the most got closest to federal recommendations. Food costs dipped considerably each time they got 1 percent more daily calories from saturated fat and sugar, according to the researchers.

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  • 6 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Eating Fruits and Veggies

    Experts say most people know they don't eat nearly enough fruits and vegetables (Find how much the government says you should be getting here.) Some may not know how to prepare them. Others might think they don't like them. Here are six ways to work them into your diet painlessly, U.S. News reported in 2010:

    1. Use them in sauces, chili, soups, and casseroles. They're great at camouflaging zucchini, squash, carrots, or corn. Grate and sauté them or pulse them in a food processor until they're smooth. But they don't have to be hidden to taste good. Pasta sauces or toppings on meat dishes are other veggie vehicles. Grab a can of butternut squash soup and cook gnocchi in it—it's "super yummy," says Andrea Giancoli, a registered dietician and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. Smother your chicken in ratatouille—an assortment of seasoned, sautéed veggies—or top sea bass with tomatoes, capers, and olives or perhaps a mango salsa. [Read more: 6 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Eating Fruits and Veggies]

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    • How to Stay on a Diet to Lose or Maintain Weight

      A diet is only as good as your ability to stick to it. Research has found that most plans will help you lose weight, regardless of type—low-fat or low-carb, for example. What counts is whether you can stay on it long-term. And with restaurant meals, dinners with friends, and hot fudge sundaes to tempt you, adherence is an understandable challenge. Here are five tricks for making your diet stick:

      1. Gather the troops. You need support, be it from a friend, a group like Overeaters Anonymous, or even an online community. Research suggests those who go it alone are most likely to fall off the wagon. That's why some diet plans have a formal support component—Weight Watchers connects dieters via weekly meetings, while Jenny Craig members are assigned counselors for advice and encouragement. If you're not comfortable talking about your weight face-to-face, log online. By signing up for the free program PeerTrainer, for example, dieters can interact and track each others' weight-loss progress, pose questions, and swap diet and exercise tips. "It's important to have people who will pick you up when times are tough and cheer you on when you have successes," says registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner, author of The Flexitarian Diet. Plus, she adds: "Healthy habits are contagious." [Read more: How to Stay on a Diet to Lose or Maintain Weight.]