Healthy Food in the City

What does it really mean when people say you need to “eat healthy”? It actually means just that. What you eat has a great impact on your overall health. Eating foods with the right nutritional value keeps your body strong. It boosts your immune system. It can also help your mood and energy levels. It is important to include healthy food in your diet, no matter where you live. There are things you can do to find the foods you need to stay healthy in your community.

Path to improved wellness

Eating a variety of foods that give you the nutrients you need helps you maintain your health, feel good, and have energy. These nutrients include protein, carbohydrates, fat, water, vitamins, and minerals. Experts say to look for foods that are low in sugar, fat, and salt. Avoid eating too many processed, sugary, or fatty foods. But sometimes it’s not as easy or as cheap to find the foods that are healthy for us.

Things to consider

Living in the city offers many conveniences. City living also offers challenges when you’re trying to eat healthy. You may have plenty of access to fast food instead of restaurants that offer healthy choices. You may not have access to transportation to shop when and where you want. Maybe you live in a high-rise building and it’s hard to get groceries upstairs.

Some cities don’t have large supermarkets that carry a wide variety of foods. You may only have smaller convenience stores near you. Many of these stores don’t offer much of a grocery selection. The foods sold in these types of stores are usually cheap but processed and full of fat, sugar, salt, and preservatives.

So, if you live in an urban area and don’t have access to the large stores, how can you find the foods you need to eat a healthy diet? Here are some tips for finding healthy food in the city:

  • Plan ahead. Planning out your meals and groceries can help you make healthy choices. It can also help you plan your shopping needs.
  • Check local convenience stores for sections with healthy foods. You may have to shop around. Look for smaller stores that offer fresh produce and healthy snacks. Some may offer a freezer section. Frozen fruits and vegetables can be lower in sugar and salt than the canned versions.
  • If your store doesn’t carry healthy foods, ask. If you can’t find the foods you’re looking for, ask someone at your local store to start carrying them.
  • Look for community gardens and farmers’ markets nearby. Access to healthy, affordable food is vital to community health. Many urban areas are planning specific locations for these options.
  • Make a regular, special trip into a nearby town. If you can’t find what you need nearby, you may have to look elsewhere. Plan a weekly or monthly trip to a store that offers the healthy options you’re looking for.
  • Find an online delivery service. Many stores are now offering free or inexpensive delivery services. You may be able to have groceries or healthy carryout meals brought straight to your front door.
  • Skip the fast food. Sometimes, it’s just more convenient to eat out. Instead of hitting the fast food restaurant or food truck on the corner, find a restaurant that offers healthy options. Make that your go-to place for a quick salad or sandwich instead of a greasy burger.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • Do I have any specific health conditions that can be helped with a healthier diet?
  • Are there certain vitamins or nutrients I should be adding to my diet?
  • Should I be taking any dietary supplements if I can’t get the nutrition I need through food?

Resources

Choosemyplate.gov

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Eat Healthy