Does a healthy diet have to be expensive? – How we do change our purchase behaviour?

July 30, 2022

By Sheba Sunny Marottickal
Healthy eating has received more media attention over the past ten years, and tales concerning its
cost are also on the rise, both of which have an effect on the public’s perspective. While it has
been established that organic ingredients and gluten-free foods are more expensive, customers
tend to apply this mental model to a wide variety of goods, which could cause them to overlook
healthier options or overpay for them due to an incorrect price bias. Less healthy foods are
typically less expensive, according to several research comparing the cost per calorie of foods,
however, these studies don’t fully explain the situation. The parameters by which cost is measured
are crucial.
Consider the illustration of two pots of chocolate dessert, one regular and one with lower fat.
Using the price- per- calorie measure, the lower-fat dessert appears more costly than the regular
pot, because it contains smaller calories. But studies comparing the price per unit weight of food
from the same food group suggest healthy options are frequently cheaper – for instance, 200g of
chickpeas versus 200g of bacon. The latter is a more meaningful measure because the majority of the
people buying food suppose about the amount they’re buying rather than how multifold calories
they’re getting for their plutocrat.
Despite the fact that this association is questionable in some product categories and
environments, Haws and her co-authors found in a paper just accepted for publication by the
Journal of Consumer Research that consumers do agree to a general lay proposition that healthy
means premium. As a result, this lay theory is improperly applied in areas other than those in which it
is actually accurate.
According to a pair of studies, customers conclude that a more expensive product is healthier just
solely on price. Consumers also believe that foods associated with better health will cost more.
Another study discovered that when there aren’t obvious differences between the nutritional
advantages of coloured options, customers tend to focus more on pricing.
How does such an unhealthy routine is proliferating in our food culture?

  1. Public health & prejudice
    Providing nutrition information and recipes is a common emphasis of public-health campaigns to
    encourage healthy meals. However, these strategies frequently assume that those with low
    incomes have less food literacy, or food knowledge and abilities. According to research, adults
    who live in food-insecure households are just as likely to change recipes to make them healthier
    as adults who live in food-secure households. In terms of cooking and food preparation, they are
    equally skilled. There is little evidence that improving one’s financial or culinary skills will
    lessen food insecurity. Instead, disadvantaged populations are limited by their socioeconomic,
    political, and economic environments
  2. Consumer behaviour
    Diets high in calories and lacking in nutrients are particularly harmful to the younger generation.
    Children who consume a lot of sugar, fat, and salt are more likely to become type 2 diabetes,
    heart disease, and need to have their teeth pulled. The tendency for early habits to persist is
    maybe even more worrisome. Tragically, these problems might have been prevented.
    For far less than the cost of a cheeseburger, one can eat healthfully. Cost is not the main problem;
    knowledge, skills, and time are. Because of the cost of meat, fish, and dairy products, the rise of
    “superfoods,” and the greater price of organic produce, we are conditioned to view healthy eating
    as being expensive. But providing wholesome food should not be expensive. A basic diet of
    potatoes, carrots, and lentils costs as little as a bag of chips, but chia-seed smoothies are a pricey
  3. Feverish lifestyle
    Being poor is exhausting, which influences eating preferences. Cheap takeout food appeals to
    consumers because, after a long day, cooking is sometimes the last thing they want to do.
    Because they are more filling, people on low incomes are more likely to purchase calorie-dense
    items than fruit or vegetables. However, junk food is detrimental to our health even though it
    may keep you fuller longer than an apple.
    However, it is challenging to encourage healthy eating in a time- and money-strapped society,
    and teaching cooking skills by themselves won’t cut it. While well-intentioned, Jamie Oliver’s
    attempt to teach cooking skills to individuals on low budgets alienated a large portion of his
    target audience by demonizing the turkey twizzler and further stigmatizing families in Britain
    who are experiencing the worst effects of austerity. Strategies to address diet must understand
    that what we eat is fundamental to who we are if they are to be effective.
  4. The myth about the cost of higher-quality diets
    There’s a strong belief that cooking from scrape costs a fortune, and with takeaway refections
    priced as low as £1, they’ve little incitement to change their geste . It’s well-established that food
    prices are an important determinant of food choice, particularly among low-income consumers.
    Low-income homes report that they find it delicate to borrow dietary guidelines because food
    prices are a hedge to enhancing their diets.
    According to research, those who are wealthier and more educated in industrialized nations tend
    to eat better-quality diets that include more fruits, vegetables, fish, and whole grains. Contrarily,
    those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged report eating diets that are nutrient-poor and
    energy-dense and are rich in processed meats, pasta, potatoes, table sugar, and fried foods. They
    are less inclined to purchase food in accordance with general health recommendations. Advanced
    rates of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease—diseases connected to
    diet—among those with lower incomes are typically observed in conjunction with these dietary
    differences. It is well supported that there is an inverse association between social class, diet
    quality, and health.
    While this may be so, it does not, in itself, prove that healthy diets are inescapably more precious
    or cost-prohibitive. After all, not all socioeconomically underprivileged people consume poor
    What do studies say?
    We can effortlessly suppose a number of foods and recipes that are both affordable and
    nutritional. The internet is full of recipes for “ eating well on a budget. ” Indeed, for numerous
    expensive healthy food items like fresh salmon, a lower-cost choice exists, like tinned salmon.
    Researchers have developed indicators like the Nutrient Rich Food Index to rank foods
    predicated on their composite nutrient profile, taking into account both the good and bad. When
    food prices are compared based on an average portion( like one apple versus one orange) or
    edible weight( like 100 grams), healthy foods can be cheaper for the consumer. Still, when foods
    are compared based on their energy cost( quantity of money per calorie), energy-packed foods
    like grains, fats, and sweets represent the lowest-cost option. These cheap calories also tend to
    be the least nutritious. While some researchers have argued that consumers don’t purchase foods
    based on the cost of energy, others have shown that this metric best matches the actual
    consumption patterns of low-income people. The fact that low-cost, energy-packed foods of
    low nutritive content are heavily reckoned upon by low-income consumers means we can’t
    ignore this metric.
    So, how can we tackle the situation?
    On a shopping list, meat and fish are among the priciest goods, whereas plant-based proteins are
    frequently less expensive. Beans, peas, and lentils are nutritious, inexpensive, and a great meat
    substitute. Beware of high-priced “superfoods”; there is no consensus on what constitutes one,
    and many of the purported health benefits of such foods remain unsubstantiated. It has been
    demonstrated that merely increasing the quantity and diversity of fruit and vegetables in your
    diet can lower the risk of illness and need not be expensive. Fruits and vegetables that are frozen,
    canned, or dried are frequently less expensive than fresh yet still contain the same nutrients.
    They also last longer, which results in reduced food waste. You can typically produce identical
    dishes fast and efficiently for far less by making your own processed ingredients. A jar of pasta
    sauce costs more than four times as much as this recipe costs for four meals, plus you’ll also
    know precisely what’s in it. Diet is essential to good health and wellbeing, thus price alone
    shouldn’t deter people from following a healthy diet. Junk food may be inexpensive and
    delicious, but the notion that nutritious food is pricey is untrue.
    how do we change our purchase behaviour?
    ● Make a list of your purchases and follow it.
    ● Avoid the error of shopping while you are hungry.
    ● Consider the cost per unit rather than the total cost.
    ● Brand names for generics instead
    ● Check the shelves above and below for less expensive substitutes because supermarkets
    typically advertise the things they want you to purchase at eye level.
    ● Instead of many times per week, try to shop once a week or once every two weeks.
    ● Purchase in bulk when items are on sale.
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