It is well known that a woman's diet during pregnancy can affect the health of her child both in-utero and after birth. However, recent studies from the Lancet, a leading medical journal, have linked health of both parents even before conception of child with the child’s health later on in life. For example, obesity in either of the parents is said to increase risk of chronic diseases such as heart attack, stroke, immunity diseases and diabetes in the children later in life. Not only that, studies suggest eating healthily only during pregnancy might not be enough to correct micro nutrient deficiencies developed during the parents’ reproductive years. But, as in all things, eating healthily to protect one and one’s offspring from possible health problems comes with a cost. For that matter, unhealthy eating also leads to costs in managing and treating diseases that follow. This article helps you assess the real cost of eating healthy and suggest ways in which you can afford it better.
The True Cost of Eating Unhealthy
As explained above, not consuming required micro-nutrients in your diet and leading an unhealthy lifestyle can lead to complications in conceiving, pregnancy, child birth and adversely affect the health of the offspring. In Singapore, this could translate into thousands of dollars of monthly bills spent in specialist consultations, tests, scans and treatment, especially if you do not have adequate insurance coverage. Specialist consultations in Singapore typically cost around $150 per visit. Scans could cost between $100 to a few thousand dollars depending on the type of scan required. Hospital admission and stay could also set you back by few hundreds per day. This means that your poor health choices now could even lead to huge medical expenses during your pregnancy or in your child’s adulthood. Medical inflation in Singapore is already at a whopping 10%, so medical expenditure could be an even bigger burden on your child.
What is a Healthy Pre-Conception Diet and How Much Does it Cost in Singapore?
Consuming a daily diet rich in minerals and vitamins is vital for your and your offspring’s health. The best way to achieve this is by buying fresh ingredients and cooking at home. However, in Singapore, eating at home is not the first option for many families, as buying fresh groceries and cooking at home falls more expensive than eating at the hawker center or McDonalds. In fact, studies have shown that households prefer dining out in Singapore due to high cost of fresh and healthy food. While you can easily get a plate of chicken rice or nasi lemak at a hawker center for under $5, cooking a balanced meal for yourself at home could easily spend S$6 to S$10 per person. Not only that, you may need to take supplements to get all the essential micro nutrients. For example, most women are advised to take folic acid supplements when they are planning to conceive. A simple list like the below could add another S$30 of cost to your monthly budget.
However, what most people fail to realize is that spending more today to eat healthily is much more economical than facing high medical costs (or having an unhealthy child) in the future. Eating healthy today can help you and your child avoid problems like difficulty in conceiving, obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart conditions. It can be said that every $1 spent today towards a healthy diet has a potential to save $10 or even S$100 that will be spent combating the ill-effects of a poor diet, which doesn’t even account for the emotional difficulties if one were to face some of these problems.
How to Afford a Healthy Pre-Conception Diet
If the cost trade-off between eating healthy and treating diseases resulting from poor nutrition is not enough to convince you to invest in a healthy diet, here are some pointers on how you can stretch your dollar to make eating healthy more economical.
First, you can save on cost of supplements by buying bigger, multipacks that come with different combinations of nutrients. This principle also applies to groceries, since most supermarkets provide a bit of a discount for buying in bulk.
Secondly, there are several credit cards in the market that offer great rewards and cash back for grocery shopping. Some cards like Citi Cash Back Credit Card can shave 8% on your daily grocery bills, while cards like POSB Everyday Card can help you save on groceries and supplements.
Lastly, planning your meals ahead can help you make use of the many deals, offers and bargains that supermarkets come up with on a regular basis. It also prevents wastages stemming out of last minute changes, especially if you tend to buy groceries in bulk but procrastinate cooking.