alive logo

The Cost of Living and Your Health


In recent months, many a trip to the gas pump or walk down the grocery aisle has resulted in sticker shock. According to Statistics Canada, June 2022 was the first time the annual inflation rate exceeded 8 percent in almost 40 years.

In April 2022, the annual inflation rate reached 6.8 percent in Canada. The price of groceries spiked due to supply chain disruption and shortages in transportation, food, and labour supply. The largest price increases in 2021 were seen in chicken, pork, and seafood, while the cost of vegetables went down, although economic experts predict 2022 will see significant increases in dairy, vegetables, bakery, and restaurant foods in the order of 5 to 7 percent.


Eat well for less

In these financial conditions, what can you do to keep eating well, and in turn, protect your health? We asked an expert for some advice to help us all stay healthy while managing our budget.


Discover just how much you spend on eating

If you feel stressed about money, London, Ontario-based money coach Danielle Corcoran of The Corcoran Coaching Group’s first piece of advice is to get a clear picture of your finances. Start by looking back over the last three months of bank and credit card statements and categorize where that money is going.

“Almost 100 percent of the time, people are shocked at how much goes to food, both groceries and eating out, along with alcohol and day-to-day coffees and quick snacks,” says Corcoran.


Develop a plan and keep track

Next, Corcoran advises clients to allocate a specified amount to say, eating out or buying groceries, and keep track. “Once you use up that amount, then that’s it until next payday,” she says.


Use cash

It’s easy to tap your card and forget about it, says Corcoran. “When you physically have cash, you see it deplete more quickly, and when you can see the amount dwindle, then you’re more careful about how you spend it,” says Corcoran.


Plan your meals

Take stock of what’s in your fridge already, and use it up first, recommends Corcoran. “I know many people who throw out food because they forget they have it and then re-buy it,” she says.

Plan your meals around what’s on sale. You can shop flyers or go to discount stores. It’s important to know which sales are cyclical says Corcoran, so you know when you have another chance to take advantage of the same deal.


Buy in bulk

You can certainly save money buying in bulk, but Corcoran cautions against buying in bulk blindly.

Just like when you’re shopping at your local grocery store, you need to crack out your calculator. That way, you can compare the unit price—the cost per mL, kg, and so on—and find out whether you should buy a product in bulk, or if you’re better off grabbing it at the local grocery store.


Limit your trips

Corcoran recommends a trip to buy in bulk only once a month. The more you go shopping, the more you spend, she says.


Go organic for less

Grow your own organic produce, and you’ll save a lot of money on vegetables! You don’t need a huge plot; all it takes is planting a few of your favourite vegetables in a few pots, on a windowsill, or on your porch.

Buying organic—or any produce—in season is also helpful. You can find seasonal produce guides online. Frozen organic produce may also be available at a better price than fresh.


Freeze it!

Lemons, yogurt, potatoes, vegetables, herbs, and berries can all be bought either on sale or in season and frozen until you’re ready to eat them.

Corcoran says you can also score savings by cooking dishes such as chili and lasagna ahead of time, alone or with friends, and freezing them, too.

The power of eating well

A healthy, well-balanced diet protects against many chronic non-communicable diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.

Beyond that, it helps to boost your immunity; keeps your skin, teeth, and eyes healthy; supports muscles and strengthens bones; supports the digestive system; and helps with healthy weight maintenance. It may even help you live longer.

In fact, unhealthy eating is the leading risk for death and the second leading risk for disability in Canada.

The implications of treatment wait times

Unfortunately, long wait times, now exacerbated by the halt on non-emergency medical procedures during COVID, will affect multiple aspects of our health, whether we’re awaiting treatment for ourselves or our loved ones. These wait times could impact the cost of living through …

  • lost wages
  • lowered productivity at work
  • the cost of caring for a family member
  • increased risk of mortality or adverse events that directly result from long delays for treatment

This is why now, more than ever, a regular herb and supplement schedule, in addition to a nutritious diet, is essential for good health and prevention. The vitamins and minerals that Canadians lack the most are

  • magnesium
  • calcium
  • vitamins D and A

Other supplements worth thinking about include

  • multivitamins
  • omegas
  • vitamin C
  • zinc
  • echinacea
  • elderberry

The personal cost of wait times

Researchers looked at the value of time lost while awaiting medical care in 2021. When they included evenings and weekends, but excluded eight hours of sleep each night, the cost of waiting for treatment was estimated at $8,706 per person.



Hollywood Balancing Act

Hollywood Balancing Act

Drawing on martial arts philosophy, Peter Jang finds mind-body balance in a decade-plus career

Shawn RadcliffeShawn Radcliffe