Eating Like a Peasant: a Healthy Lifestyle You Can Afford

The Poor Man’s Diet: Why Eating Like a Peasant Makes for a Healthy Lifestyle You Can Afford

The “poor man’s diet” may just be your ticket to a healthy lifestyle that sticks.

One of the unfortunate perceptions when it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle is that it is very expensive. And the assumption is more or less founded – organic produce is more pricey than conventional and indulging in the flowery addenda to the lifestyle, like elusive, niche ingredients, superfoods, and complementary products can rack up a grocery bill quickly. However, leading a plant-based lifestyle should be (and actually is) will save you a lot of time and money. The so-called “poor man’s diet” is testament to that. Here’s how you can live happily and healthily, on the cheap.

The “poor man’s diet” doesn’t imply you eat whatever is cheap. The cheapest foods you find are often the worst for your figure and overall health. These include refined flours and sugars, packaged goods, and fast food. To avoid confusion, instead imagine a peasant’s diet back in the day.

The “poor man’s diet” lifestyle is a nod to 19th century Victorians. The mid-1800s signified a golden age of nutrition. During this time, people exhibited stronger immune systems and the poor working classes, especially, ate fewer refined foods and more fresh fruits and vegetables.

Wholemeal bread was stone-ground and a fixture in the poor man’s diet. It was made with a copious amount of yeast, which is very beneficial to the immune system. The beer during that time was relatively weak and unfiltered, providing the body with immunity-boosting yeast without too much of a buzz. The working classes also complemented their meals with watercress, onions, cabbage, Jerusalem artichokes, beetroot, apples, cherries, and plums. Meat was rarely consumed, but when it was, people ate cheap scraps of meat from the bone and boiled the bones to make broth, getting in even more nutrition. Fish, such as herring, mackerel, and cod roes were commonly consumed. Sugar was a luxury reserved to the riches and working class Victorians did not smoke. They also regularly engaged in strenuous exercise. This lifestyle resulted in a longer life expectancy and a higher quality of life in old age among working class people.

The takeaway: home cooking with a focus on fresh fruits and vegetables and pure, unadulterated, and simple ingredients paired with regular, challenging exercise are keys to a healthier lifestyle and increased longevity.

Here are 4 tips to eating according to the poor man’s diet.

Poor Man’s Diet: 5 Fit and Healthy Lifestyle Hacks

1. Avoid “Luxury” Items

All animal-based products should be considered “luxury” foods. Focus on a diet heavy in fresh fruits and vegetables and only indulge in meat, poultry, milk, and cheese every once in awhile, not on a regular basis.

In this same vein, when embarking on a new dietary lifestyle, it is enticing to buy into the flashy, oftentimes expensive foods that garner a lot of hype. They are luxuries and aren’t necessary. You’ll do just fine without goods like deluxe dark chocolate, superfoods like goji berries, protein powders, and miracle potions. In fact, overindulging in these foods can backtrack your goals because of their density and high-caloric or sugar content.

2. Avoid Alcohol and Cigarettes      

This should be a no-brainer, but excess alcohol consumption and a cigarette habit wreak havoc on your health and can cost you in both the short and long term.

3. Embrace White Potatoes and White Rice

Yes, that’s right! White potatoes get a bad rap, but for all the wrong reasons. Potatoes are denser in nutrients than sweet potatoes and are one of the most satiating foods out there, which means they will fill you up with fewer calories. Just make sure to enjoy them baked or steamed, not fried.

Meanwhile, white rice may be a better option than brown rice. Brown rice contains higher levels of arsenic and depletes the body of minerals. White rice is not particularly nutrient-dense, but it is often fortified with B vitamins and is not as mucous-forming in the body as brown rice. White rice is also incredibly versatile and can bulk up just about any dish.

4. Go Green

Start every meal with an abundant green leaf salad. Not only are greens relatively cheap, they will fill you up with fiber prior to a meal, so you end up eating less within the meal and are better able to digest it all the more easily. And don’t just stick to the regular kale or spinach base. Instead, spice things up with more peppery greens, like watercress and arugula. That way, your body will benefit from unique vitamins and minerals and your palate will experience new flavors.

5. Lead an Active Lifestyle

Be active by nature, not just at a specific time during the day that you reserve for exercise. Instead of driving to work, ride a bike or walk. Instead of taking the elevator, take the steps! Do things yourself instead of having (or hiring) others to do them. You don’t need an expensive gym membership or a private trainer when you put elbow grease into everything you do and are proactive about being physical whenever the opportunity presents itself.

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