When you have Crohn’s disease, the foods you eat can have a significant impact on how well you feel. Following a healthy diet is key to managing your symptoms and improving your overall well-being. However, nutritious foods typically come with a high price tag.
Fortunately, with a bit of planning and a few simple shopping tips, you can enjoy regular, nutritious meals without breaking the bank or inflaming your Crohn’s.
1. Keep a food journal
Keeping a food journal is a helpful way to figure out and avoid your Crohn’s triggers. Jot down the contents of all your meals, as well as any symptoms you experience after eating (if any). This can help you spot patterns and identify foods that cause you digestive trouble.
Your food journal can be a helpful tool to save you money on your next shopping trip, too. By taking notes on what you’re eating, it will help you remember to avoid items that upset your GI tract. You won’t buy unnecessary items or too much of any particular thing.
2. Plan your meals
Planning your meals the week before you go grocery shopping can help you prioritize healthy, Crohn’s-friendly foods that won’t worsen your symptoms.
Check online or in the newspaper for flyers featuring your local supermarket’s weekly specials. Try to plan a few of your meals around what’s on sale whether it’s lean meats, healthy grains, or fresh produce.
Having a clear meal plan for the week will encourage you not to buy more food than you’ll need, and will prevent you from doubling up on ingredients that are already in your cupboard. It will also dissuade you from making impulse buys once you get to the store.
3. Buy generic brands
Another smart way to save money while eating healthy is to buy generic brands whenever possible.
Most food stores sell a variety of items under their own generic label at a much lower price than name-brand items. These cheaper options typically have the same quality of ingredients and nutritional value as the major brands.
4. Download an app to save money
A simple way to save on food shopping is to download a money-saving app. There are a bunch specifically for grocery shopping that scope sales for you at major chains and local markets.
Some to try are:
5. Shop seasonally
Fruits and vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet, and many produce items are less expensive when they’re at their peak growing time.
Fruits and vegetables are also fresher and more nutritious when they’re in season. And, they’re typically sourced from nearby farms which helps support your local economy.
Websites like the Seasonal Food Guide can help you find out which fruits and vegetables are currently in season in your state.
6. Store produce properly
Making sure your produce is stored correctly will protect your food’s nutrients and prevent spoilage, which can help save you money.
Store tomatoes and garlic at room temperature, and keep things like onions, potatoes, yams, and squash in a cool, dark place. Most other vegetables should be kept in plastic bags in your refrigerator.
Leave your fresh vegetables unwashed in the fridge. Wash them just before you eat them. Try to keep fruits and vegetables stored in separate drawers of your refrigerator, as fruit produces gas that will make vegetables spoil.
7. Hydrate with water
One of the most common symptoms of Crohn’s is diarrhea. You’ll want to drink plenty of fluids to help keep you hydrated. But not all fluids are created equal.
Steer clear of caffeinated and sugary drinks during a flare-up because they can worsen diarrhea. Sodas and fruit juices cost more than water from your tap (or bottled water) anyway, so nixing those types of drinks from your grocery list should save you money, too.
A balanced diet is a big part of managing Crohn’s disease and reducing the severity of your symptoms.
Even though nutritious food can sometimes be more expensive than less-healthy alternatives, there are ways to reduce the cost and keep your grocery bill manageable.