Hesperian Health Guides

Hesperian Health Guides

Eating Well When You Have Little

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HealthWiki > New Where There Is No Doctor > Good Food Makes Good Health > Eating Well When You Have Little


In a world where some people have land, resources, and money and others do not, there will always be hunger. And times of famine will continue as long as there are wars, outbreaks of disease, too much pollution, a lack of care for land, and economic policies that force people to move. These true, root causes of hunger must be changed to ensure that everyone is fed.

But one family or one community can usually eat better even when they have little. And perhaps by eating better, they can gain strength to stand up for social justice.

A bowl with flour, rice, eggs, fruits and vegetables

Ways to eat more and healthier foods

  • Buy inexpensive simple foods like beans and grains. They are more nutritious and cost less than processed, factory-made foods such as white breads, biscuits, and tinned soups or snacks.
  • If you live in a rural area, gather or hunt traditional foods like edible mushrooms, wild greens and berries, small animals, or insects. These tend to be very nutritious, and cost nothing.
A woman growing plants in the fire escape outside her apartment
  • Keep chickens for eggs and meat. Some people build small ponds to raise fish to eat.
  • Grow your own food in containers or a garden.
  • Buy foods in bulk. Single-serving packages are almost always more expensive than buying a larger amount that you use over a longer time. If you cannot afford the cost of a larger amount, perhaps you can buy with a neighbor or family member, and then share the cost.
A woman breastfeeding her baby
  • Babies and young children need breast milk — not formula. Breast milk is the best food for them and it costs nothing.
  • Avoid packaged cereals and flavored milks that are sold for older babies and children. These are a waste of money. Regular animal milk, or well-cooked and mashed foods cost less and are healthier for children than packaged “baby food” or “baby milk.”
A tub of powdered baby milk, with a label saying that it has fewer vitamins and minerals and more sugar and fat than real food, and is more expensive
  • Do not throw away broth from cooking beans, meat, or vegetables. This broth is full of nutrients and can prevent anemia. Drink it or use it to cook grains and other foods. Or cook with less water and put a lid on the pot – to keep the nutrients in.
  • Use the money you do have for food. Alcohol, tobacco, and bottled or canned sweet drinks cost a lot of money over time and give no nutrition.


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