The recent New York Times article by Mark Bittman really struck a cord with me. As a health coach, I work with families all the time who tell me that they cannot afford to spend more money on food. I say, you cannot afford NOT to spend your money on real food.

We’re brain-washed to believe that healthy is for the wealthy, but “normal” people cannot afford to eat healthy food. I’ve never done the cost comparison myself, but I often find myself asking my clients just how much they do spend on food. When we run the numbers, any which way, eating out is ALWAYS more expensive than cooking at home.

Bittman does a beautiful job illustrating that home-cooked food is cheaper than fast food. What doesn’t address in his article are the other costs when we make fast food, our everyday choice. The first cost is your health. And by health, I don’t just mean that fast food makes you gain weight. In addition to being the most obese society ever, we are now seeing a tremendous rise in preventable chronic diseases and health issues. THAT, is a tremendous cost. Loss of work, loss of time, loss of passion, drive, vitality, interest, loss of feeling healthy and vibrant. Those are the tremendous costs associated with choosing factory-made food, instead of home-cooked, real food. These are the costs of giving up our health.

There’s another cost though, and this one makes me really sad, because it has to do with our children. When we choose fast food, over real, home-cooked meals, on a regular basis, the cost is that our children grow up without a love for real, wholesome foods. They will not have memories of moms chicken soup, or brownies, or anything home-made… The cost is the pride that comes when you cook a meal with your children, and sit down together to enjoy it. The cost is the experience and memories that they will never have; the conversations that would have naturally occurred while making dinner; and the connections that happen around the table. The cost is about loosing connection with our family.

“No time to cook” I hear this all the time from my clients. I hear it coming out of my own mouth on occasion. Here is my first answer: make time, and take time. And my second answer looks like this: If you think you have no time now to cook a meal, think about how much time you’ll have when you have to inject insulin into your body; when you have 50 prescription medications you must take twice a day; when you need to spend 2-5 hours in a doctor’s waiting room every week. You have time, you just need to make it a priority. The cost is too great, YOU are worth it.