Not only does it seem like the grocery store takes a big chunk out of the family budget, consider the costs of getting sick. From co-pays that cost more than a tank of gas to deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses that can exceed a mortgage payment, even getting the flu can be expensive. Health-care costs in an already
troubled economy are providing many Minnesotans with more incentive than ever to find new ways to take better care of themselves.

"Can you remember the last time you had a salad?" asks Donna Fjelstad, a nutritional consultant who conducts seminars across the country. "The United States is the richest nation on earth and the unhealthiest. This is the only generation of children who may not live as long as their parents. Eating an adequate daily amount of fruits and vegetables reduces your risk of all major diseases, and yet 80-90 percent of people attending my seminars aren’t getting enough of them."

Fjelstad will share nutritional tips to help you look good and feel great, including recent changes in dietary recommendations issued by the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society and others, during her free seminar at the Body Mind Life Expo on March 7-8 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Fjelstad will be joined by Dr. Donald R. Timm, Ph.D., who has worked in the field of disease prevention, wellness and cardiac rehabilitation for 40 years.

Prevention has become the modern mantra, with nutritional supplements helping to lead the upswing. A study released by Packaged Facts last summer predicted that despite the sluggish economy, the market for vitamins, minerals, homeopathics and herbals will jump 30 percent between now and 2012.

For money-saving tips on a budget, Fjelstad and Dr. Timm suggest:

1. Visit your local farmer’s market. Turn healthful eating into a family event by buying larger quantities or fresh herbs at your local farmers market (even during winter months). Or consider starting a garden swap in your neighborhood, where everyone grows a different vegetable.

2. Cut back on unhealthy fast foods and processed foods. "When you eliminate or at least cut back on processed foods and fast foods, you are reducing your intake of many unhealthy ingredients such as saturated fat and sodium. You will also save a lot of money," says Fjelstad.

3. Choose lean, budget-friendly protein sources. "Healthful choices include a pork loin center cut because it costs about the same as pork chops but contains much less fat," says Dr. Timm. "High fat meats also have more calories. Plus, a high saturated fat content in meats is directly related to a rise in bad cholesterol and a drop in good cholesterol."

4. Avoid white foods. "Don’t waste your money on white foods such as sugar, salt, white pasta, white breads, potatoes and white rice because they are generally so over-processed that they add very little nutritional value to your diet," advises Fjelstad. "Look for whole grain alternatives for the starchy items on your grocery list, and choose sweet potatoes over white potatoes."

5. Stock up on tuna. "Certain fish, such as salmon and tuna, are very high in beneficial Omega 3 fatty acids," says Dr. Timm. While fresh fish can be pricey, he advises that canned tuna is a good price-conscious alternative.

6. Eat a minimum of six servings of fruits and vegetables daily. "Raw is preferable," says Dr. Timm.

To learn more about the Body Mind Life expo, to shop at the show before you go, or ask a question of one of the guest speakers, visit www.101expos.com. Admission to the expo is $3 with the half-price coupon available at www.101expos.com, and free to kids 17 and under when accompanied by an adult. Further information is available on the expo hotline at 612.798.7256.

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