5 Basic Health Care Tips to Improve Your Health & Save You Money | #24CarrotDiet

5 Basic Health Care Tips: Save Money & Improve Your Health in the New Year

Health care tips often find their way into New Year’s resolutions. We all want to be healthier, but do you ever worry that following expert health care tips will end up costing you too much money? Gym memberships, supplements, and special foods can be expensive. But it is possible to adopt a healthier lifestyle and save money too.

Instead of buying diet foods and following special diets, think about making simple lifestyle changes. Most of these changes will cost very little, if anything at all. And some of them can actually cut your food costs. Best of all, they will help you improve your overall health. And that means you’ll spend less on healthcare in the long run. Let healthy food choices be your medicine, and you may just find that you have fewer doctor visits and need medication less often. You’ll be able to do more things, and you’ll enjoy life more.

These health care tips come from a belief that prevention is the best medicine. Adopting a healthy lifestyle in the first place can prevent a lot of medical conditions before they happen. And even if you already have a chronic health condition, you may find that your symptoms improve when you adopt healthier eating habits.

5 Basic Health Care Tips to Improve Your Health & Save You Money | #24CarrotDiet
These basic health care tips will improve your health & save you money
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Basic Health Care Tips for 2018

I’ve chosen these health care tips to be easy to implement and also frugal. I tried to pick lifestyle changes that should be safe for everyone. But if you do have a particular medical condition, be sure to check with your doctor before you make any changes to your diet. Also, be sure not to make any changes to your prescribed medications without consulting your doctor or pharmacist.

As for ease of implementation, don’t feel you have to put all five health care tips into practice at once! You may find that it’s fairly easy to follow through on some of the health care tips, such as eliminating fruit juice from your diet. But other tips, like cutting back on meat or meal prepping, can take a little more work. So at first, just pick the tips that you think you can follow fairly painlessly. As you master one or two of these lifestyle changes, you can start following other health care tips a little at a time.

Give yourself the whole year to make all five changes to your eating habits. This is an ongoing project that will take time to complete. So don’t let yourself feel rushed, and be sure to reward yourself for each of the health care tips as you successfully adopt it.

1) Stop Drinking Fruit Juice

Did you know that drinking juice every day can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes by 21%? This is why the very first of our health care tips for the new year is to stop drinking fruit juice.

Cutting juice out of your daily diet is an easy change to make and it will save you money on beverages, especially if you replace juice with tap water. Some fruit juices have as much sugar as a soft drink. And fruit juice, even if you are juicing with fresh fruits and vegetables at home, lacks fibre.

Dietary fibre is an essential nutrient – and most North Americans are not getting enough of it. Fibre helps you feel full, which can help you to eat less and lose weight. Some types of fibre are prebiotic: they feed your gut bacteria, the probiotics that help your body break down food.

Fibre also helps improve heart health. It can contribute to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and decreased risk of stroke and diabetes. Fibre also slows down the digestion of sugars in foods like fruit, which helps reduce the strain on your liver. When you drink fruit juice, it’s like eating several pieces of fruit at once. The liquid sugar moves through your body too fast. This can lead to increased body fat and insulin resistance.

Eat Whole Fruits Instead of Drinking Juice

Instead of drinking fruit juice, drink water and eat whole fruit. This is two health care tips in one. Drinking water has its own health benefits, and tap water is available free of charge. Eating at least two servings of whole fruit each week can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 23%. Drinking juice every day can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes by 21%.

Juice is often more expensive than whole fruit, especially locally grown fruit in season. So save money by buying more fruit and drinking tap water instead of juice. Even if you only swap out three servings of fruit juice each week, you could lower your diabetes risk by 7%.

2) Respect Portion Sizes

It’s no secret that North Americans tend to eat too much of a good thing. And often, we eat too much of a less than healthy thing. We are living in the “supersize me” era. Fast food restaurants actually require employees to upsell you a larger drink or to accept a meal deal instead of a single food item. Some eat-in restaurants even serve grossly oversized meals or desserts, timing the diners and making a big deal out of whether they can finish the enormous amount of food.

We all know that in order to maintain a healthy weight, you can’t eat more calories than we’re going to use in a day. And especially if you need to lose weight you can’t afford to eat over-sized portions.

Respecting portion size is probably one of the health care tips that dietitians spend the most time working on with clients. Most of us have grown up in a meat and potatoes culture that makes the steak or the pork chop the most important food on your plate. And usually, that piece of meat is a lot bigger than is healthy for us.

Learn what foods are in each of the four food groups, and how many portions of each you need for your age, gender, and activity level. Then learn how much the portion size is and respect it. Preparing smaller portions will help you save money on your grocery bills, and eating the recommended number of portions from each food group will help you get the most health benefits from your food.

3) Eat Less Meat

This health care tip follows on the last one. The recommended portion size for meat is 2-1/2 oz, or 75 g. That’s about 1/2 cup of cooked poultry or lean meat. Or about the size of a deck of cards. Think on that for a minute, and then think about how much meat you normally put on your plate. Are you eating one or even two quarter-pound burgers at a single sitting? Do you scarf down an 8-ounce steak in one meal? If so, you’re eating too much meat for one meal.

And remember too, that meat alternatives like eggs, peanut butter, nuts, tofu, and legumes also count towards your daily meat servings. If you grabbed two Egg McMuffins on the way to work this morning, you’ve already eaten almost two portions of meat alternatives. Did you know that teen girls and adult women are only supposed to eat two servings of meat or alternatives in a day? You’d better be planning on a meatless supper! And really, that means a meal with no nuts, legumes, or tofu as well. Are you regretting those breakfast burgers now?

But I don’t want you to think that you shouldn’t eat your meat alternatives. Just that you should respect the number and size of portions each day. In fact, in 2015 the World Health Organization and the American Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommended that we reduce the amount of meat we eat. So do eat nuts and seeds. Do make meatless meals that feature legumes or tofu. Do eat eggs for supper once in a while. These sources of protein tend to be less expensive than meat, so they will cost less.

Comparing Meat with Legumes

Choosing to make bean soup for supper will save you money over eating burgers, especially if you normally buy your burgers at the drive-thru. Legumes are also loaded with fibre, which meat lacks. Legumes also tend to have more protein and iron, and less fat, than a comparable amount of ground beef.

For example, a single hamburger patty (one serving of meat) weighs in at 254 calories. It provides 26% of your daily protein requirement, 14% of iron, and 11% of calcium. It also supplies 15% each of your total fat and sodium for the day.

By comparison, one cup of cooked kidney beans is 225 calories and supplies 30% of your day’s protein. It also provides a whopping 44% of fibre (burgers supply none) and 21% of iron. In addition, there is 20% potassium, 18% of magnesium, and 6% of calcium. All of that with only 1% of total fats and less than 1% of sodium.

I hope this encourages you to replace some of the meat in your diet with legumes and other healthy meat alternatives like seeds and nuts. You can add a handful of pumpkin seeds to a salad or top your morning yogurt with some walnut pieces. Nuts and seeds are also a wonderful source of healthy unsaturated fats and omega fatty acids. They are definitely worth adding to your diet, as long as you keep in mind that they should be replacing some of the meat.

4) Eat Soup Before Meals

Studies show that eating low calorie soup before a meal helps you to feel more full. That cuts down on the overall number of calories you eat at a given meal. This is true even when you include the up to 150 calories for a bowl of vegetable soup in the count.

If you had to pick just one health care tip to follow this year, this is probably the one one I’d recommend. Eating soup before a meal encourages you to sit down and make a bit more of an occasion of your supper. And taking that extra time and preparation can lead to more mindful eating. Including a vegetable soup in your meals also means that you will eat more vegetables. Considering that few of us are getting the recommended number of servings of vegetables and fruit each day, that’s an extremely healthy choice.

Even if you were just adding a small bowl of homemade soup to a meal of takeout pizza or tacos, it’s a step in the right direction. You will need less of those foods to feel satisfied. So you can buy a smaller pizza, or have fewer slices. You might decide to eat fewer tacos. Or if you’re making them at home, you might opt for a little less meat and cheese on them because you aren’t as hungry. Maybe you’ll start putting more vegetables on them instead. Whatever the case, these small changes will add up over time. They will help you save money and shift your diet towards healthier portion sizes and meals that emphasize vegetables and whole grains, rather than meats and processed foods.

5) Start Meal Prepping

Speaking of processed foods leads me to the last of our five basic health care tips for the new year. This one is probably the most challenging, but it could also be the most rewarding. Preparing meals ahead of time can help you to eat more meals at home, instead of ordering pizza or getting burgers at the drive-thru. Eating home-cooked meals can help you to cut the number of calories you eat. And it can mean that those calories will be coming from healthier food.

Eating restaurant food, particularly fast food, is associated with being overweight. Portion sizes tend to be too large, which ignores our second health care tip. Fast food, especially, tends to be overly processed and higher in fats, sugars and sodium than similar homemade foods.

You’ve probably heard that a fast food soda contains as much salt as the burger or the fries (not true – in Canada, at least.) But did you know that even the healthier options like salad sometimes have more fat, calories, and salt than the burger you’re replacing? People with higher fast food intakes can weigh up to 13 pounds more than those who eat mostly at home. They also have higher triglyceride levels and waist circumference, and are at twice the risk for metabolic syndrome.

Prepping Lunches & Snacks

As with all else, you can start meal prepping with baby steps. Try just planning your next day’s lunch and snacks after supper each night. Take some time to prepare fresh fruit and vegetables once or twice a week, and then grab some for snacks at work or school. Mason jar salads and homemade Ramen jars are a great alternative to the fast food main dish salads and sandwiches.

Prepping Breakfasts

Instead of eating cold cereal, try eating fruit and yogurt for breakfast. This is so easy to do if you have frozen fruit on hand. Or you can top your yogurt with some of the fruit you cut up for work snacks. Remember to add a few walnut pieces or some slivered almonds, too. Other options for quick and easy breakfasts include overnight oats and vegan chia seed puddings.

Try to stay away from cold cereals, muffins, and breakfast pastries as much as possible. If you decide to eat eggs, think healthy omelettes with plenty of vegetables or poached eggs with whole grain toast and a half grapefruit or some grapes. Homemade breakfast sandwiches can be a healthy option. Just remember that the eggs and meat in the sandwich count against your meat servings for the day!

Prepping Suppers

One of the most important changes you can make to reduce food spending and improve your family’s health is to treat restaurant and take-out meals as occasional treats. It can be tough for busy families to follow this health care tip, especially if you aren’t used to cooking or don’t have a well-equipped kitchen.

A slow cooker is a great investment in your family’s health. It allows you to cook healthy meals while you’re at work, doing housework, or running the kids around. Slow cooking is also a healthier cooking method than frying, which many families fall back on if they want to cook meat in a hurry. Crockpots are available in a wide range of sizes and price ranges. Choose one that suits your family’s needs, and try to put it to use at least twice a week.

Freezer Meals

There are tons of healthy freezer to crockpot meals on the internet. Choose a few for foods your family already enjoys, and maybe one that will introduce you to a new dish. Shop for just one or two of these recipes each week, then prepare it on a day when you have an hour to spare. Many freezer meal recipes actually make up two meals. If not, you can just double the recipe and divide it between two bags.

If you prepare two double recipes each week, you’ll have four new meals in the freezer each week. That means if you eat two during the week, there will always be two more tucked away for a rainy day. With each new week, you’ll increase the variety of meals in your freezer. And you’ll start to get into the habit of meal prepping, and get a sense of what meals your family likes. With time, you’ll just naturally start to prepare a few more meals ahead of time each week. You’ll notice that you are saving money on food, and that your family is starting to make healthier eating choices at other times of the day.

Trust Your Body & Take Baby Steps

Will implementing these basic health care tips be easy? Probably not. Even when it comes to the easiest of the tips, like cutting fruit juice, it will take some adjustment. You will miss your juice. You might even miss the convenience of getting several pieces of fruit in one glass.

But if you take those baby steps and just work on one lifestyle change at a time, it will get easier. Remember that even a partial change is usually better than no change at all. So if you find some of these health care tips too tough to tackle as is, then go halfway at first. Increase your vegetable portions before reducing the size of your steak. If you eat the veggies first, you’ll fill up sooner and you won’t feel the need to eat such a large piece of meat. Trust your body to lead you in making healthier diet choices. Eventually, the changes will just become second nature.

 

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Original content © 2018 Kyla Matton Osborne, aka #RubyWriter

This article was published on my food blog, 24 Carrot Diet. If you are reading this content anywhere else, it has probably been stolen. Please report it to me so I can address any copyright infringements. Thank you!

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5 Basic Health Care Tips to Help You Save Money & Eat Better in 2018
Article Name
5 Basic Health Care Tips to Help You Save Money & Eat Better in 2018
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Do you want to adopt a healthier lifestyle and save money too? Follow these 5 basic health care tips to prevent healthcare concerns before they happen.
Kyla Matton Osborne
24 Carrot Diet
24 Carrot Diet
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62 thoughts on “5 Basic Health Care Tips: Save Money & Improve Your Health in the New Year”

  1. "Cutting juice out of your daily diet is an easy change to make and it will save you money on beverages, especially if you replace juice with tap water. " I love this tip about not drinking juice. It's so true because juice doesn't contain the fiber and nutrients of the actual fruit and all you get is the sugar. Great tips!
    1. Yes, it's really an easy way to improve your health. And honestly, it will save you money buying all the extra fruits and vegetables. When you eat the produce whole, you don't need as much to feel full or to get the benefits of all those vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
    1. I've never been a huge fan of sugary drinks, but I do occasionally indulge in a sweetened lemonade or iced tea. I've noticed that if I drink a commercial drink (which is a LOT sweeter than I would make it at home) it affects my satiety levels afterwards. I have a much harder time to feel full, no matter what I eat. That could have serious impacts on someone's health if they drink those types of beverage regularly.
  2. This is a great post! I've incorporated most of these tips in my weight loss journey, except for cutting down the meat. I looooove chicken! Lol. But I only drink water, eat low sugar fruits, and am very watchful of my portion sizes.
    1. We're meat lovers in our house too, Angela! If you're watching portion sizes, you probably are already cutting back on your meat consumption. But you might also want to try adding legumes to a few of your meat recipes. THis will allow you to include meat, but to eat a little less of it without feeling less full or missing out on protein.
  3. Great post! I am working hard on meal prep this year. I find that even having something written down is not enough. It needs to be prepared in advance so that I stay on track.
  4. I've always wanted to start meal prepping but because of my family it seems almost impossible. As a vegan, I definitely agree that cutting out meat can be very beneficial. Some cases show going vegan can completely reverse diabetes and help to get rid of cancer cells!
    1. Meal prepping isn't easy for some families, but if you want to do it you can find a way. I recommend starting with small changes, like planning one meal each week from leftovers or planning the week's school lunches or snacks ahead of time. With practice, it becomes a habit and gets much easier.
  5. Meal prepping is my number one money saving strategy. Getting the food made and in to ready to go containers keeps me from food (produce) going bad in the fridge before I get around to using it. It also means I grocery shop with a list, and don't buy whatever catches my eye.
    1. Using the produce before it goes bad is one of the chief reasons I like to batch cook and prep freezer meals. I agree that shopping with a list for meal prepping makes it easier to stay on budget and to avoid making impulse purchases at the grocery store.
  6. Really enjoyed reading this. I pinned it to refer back to ! I’m working on trying to eat less meat and more beans and I notice a difference in how I feel. I never partake in fruit juice. Great post!
    1. Good for you! I'll bet you do notice the difference when you eat whole fruit instead of drinking juice. I know juicing is still a huge health trend, but I believe we should only do it in moderation. And preferably leaning more towards the lower carb vegetables mixed with a small amount of fruit for flavour. The fiber is so important, and getting too much sugar at once without it is not really healthy at all.
  7. Some sound advice here, I will definitely be adopting some of these tips in a bid for a healthier 2018. Many thanks!
  8. Great tips. Here in America fruit is on the pricy side, but if you cut out the juices and spend that money on fruit instead plus drinking more water it all should work out.
    1. Groceries are much higher priced here in Canada, so I can identify! I don't know if it's the same there, but here we can usually buy apples at a reasonable price. I try to choose a bag of small apples, as they stretch further. During citrus season, a big bag of grapefruit is quite affordable. Since you only need to eat a half a grapefruit per serving, it stretches a good ways. And of course, in summer many fruits come down in price. And many vegetables can be had at lower prices, particularly carrots. I suspect it's still better to eat a vegetable than to drink fruit juice daily!
  9. My husband and I do not eat beef, not only because of the price but also the fat content. Our red meat is venison. Every dish that calls for beef is made with venison. My husband gets two tags a year and that is our red meat. We have been doing this for fifteen years, prior to eating venison, my husband's cholesterol was 220 now it's at 118. Love the idea of planning meals, I've never done that, I always think about it when I get home. Just may have to try that. Tina Grant recently posted...Book Review – KILLER SMILE by Lisa ScottolineMy Profile
  10. I've been eating soup everyday and have noticed a HUGE change in my mood and energy. I'm not sure if it's wishful thinking but I feel like it's changed my diet for the better. That being said, I never thought about eating soup before a full meal. That's such an interesting tidbit!
  11. These are useful tips! I have always struggled to take care of myself and especially to eat in general. But I have always been careful of the things I drink, I mostly drink just water so that part of me is good. Other than that, I might want to try to start eating more better with your tips.
  12. I enjoyed reading this post and partially because I am trying to do better things that create optimal health. I do need to do more meal prepping b/c that saves a lot of time, money and is so much better for you all the way around. The soup before a main meal is something I have never thought of. Great idea.
    1. My neighbour was just asking me about meal planning. It saves time and money, but it also really makes you aware of what you're eating over the course of a week. I find that if I even just write out our suppers, it helps me to buy enough vegetables when I do meal prepping. Otherwise, I tend to focus more on staples and meat, and I often run out of veg too early in the week.
  13. Eat less meat so such a good tip. meat has gotten so expensive especially if you want health grass-fed. I have found a few local farmers that are a lot cheaper and if I buy in with friends even cheaper. great tips
  14. I seldom drink fruit juices and always drink water with my meals, so Tip #1 is easy. :) I've been working on portion control, which is harder when you are hungry and what you are eating tastes so good. The easiest way to eat less is to 'cook' less... or serve less... LOL. If it's already on your plate, it is harder to stop eating even when you feel full. I'm working on it. :) Wednesday Elf recently posted...Easily Increase Your Vegetable Intake with a SpiralizerMy Profile
    1. I agree! It's a lot easier to eat less if there is less on your plate. I'm trying to reduce the amount of meat we cook (without hubby getting disgruntled) and to increase the number of vegetables we include in a meal. Either I will increase the size of the vegetable portion, or I'll cook an additional vegetable. I also try to replace the "white stuff" like rice and pasta with a vegetable like spaghetti squash. Or I'll serve a starchy vegetable like green peas instead of adding rice to our plates. Hubby grumbles a bit, but I know we're healthier for it :)
  15. Some great suggestions here! Luckily, I already do a few of these, so I think I am in a good position to work on the other ones.
    1. That's excellent, Aireona! I'm doing well with drinking water - except I tend to drink more of it between meals than just before them. I've already pretty much cut out the juices, so that's been fairly easy for me. I'm working on eating more legumes and vegetables, and a little less meat. Portion sizes? Well, it depends on the day!
  16. Great tips for healthier eating. I have already adopted most of these, but need to work harder on eating more fresh veggies. I tend to eat more fruits than veggies. I rarely drink juice anymore unless I'm sick, and I use my crockpot a lot. In fact the week before my nephew came to visit I was sick and had two going -- one with soup and one with a pot roast to have on hand. It was a life saver. I purchased some single serve plastic storage dishes that were safe to use from freezer to microwave. Every time I make a new batch of soup I freeze a few mug-size portions to pull out next time someone gets sick or I need a quick warm dinner. I'm already sharing this in many places.
    1. I'm like you, Barb: when I'm sick, I want soup and juice! I love the idea of running two crockpots at once. I do have two in theory, but one is a pressure cooker that has a slow cook setting. I have occasionally run them both at the same time, but with our old electrical system and tiny kitchen, it's not something I like to do unless I absolutely have to.
    1. That's one thing we're working on too. I find that if I reduce the amount of meat in a given dish and add some legumes, and sometimes mushrooms, hubby doesn't miss the meat as much as if I cook a meatless meal :)
    1. I've been drinking tons of water since the beginning of the year. I got a cold and needed to drink a lot more than normal for well over 2 weeks. So now I'm trying to stay with that larger amount of water each day. I need to remember to drink before my meals, though!
  17. Yep, agree with everything you've indicated here. Fruit juices, what are they, lol - can't remember the last time I had fruit juice? Drinking sugar, yuk, no thanks - occasionally a pop, but that's a rare treat. Portion control too; critical to keeping off excess weight imo.
    1. People wonder why so many children are overweight today, and why we are even seeing obese children and kids with type 2 diabetes. A lot of blame is put on parents who feed their kids fast food. But I think the juice is something we often overlook. When we were kids, if you took a lunch to school, there was no drink with it. Juice boxes didn't exist. Neither did bottled water and juice. And nobody was going to send kids to school with soft drinks. So, you drank water at the fountain. Or maybe your school passed out milk cartons. But usually, that was at the beginning of the day. But nobody was bothered that kids didn't have drinks in their lunches. When my kids started kindergarten, the school wanted us to send them three juice boxes per day! My oldest started to really noticeably gain weight by the time she was in first grade. It was all the juice and the sweet snacks that she wouldn't have been eating at home. If we do nothing else for our health, it should be to cut back on the juice drastically. It's not good for us, or our kids to drink juice every day.
  18. Great tips! Especially the ones about prepping and freezing meals. They save time and money! The fruit juice one is very important. Decades ago when I originally gave up soda I starting drinking all fruit juice (store bought at that) thinking it was soooo healthy but eventually I realized I was loading my body with sugar and in some drinks...other chemicals. Thanks for these tips!
    1. You wouldn't believe how commercial fruit juice is made, either. They basically strip all the flavour from the juice and then replace it with flavour packets that are chosen so the juice will always taste the same. The very thought of it just turns my stomach! I like juice, but I think of it as an occasional treat now. And I try to buy local juices that have been made the old-fashioned way.
  19. As always, great post! I think implementing many of the changes you mentioned in your post is a great way to stay healthy forever. Portion size is a major thing for me... I eat really clean but I feel like i eat too much of it.
    1. Thanks so much, Angela! I do think portion size and number of servings for specific foods are still probably the biggest issues for most North Americans. We eat too much processed food and too much meat, and we drink too much juice. As a result, we don't get enough whole grains or whole fruits and vegetables.
  20. Wow the "getting smaller portions" tip really gets me. I'm a fast eater so by the time my stomach tells me that I'm full, I already overate. Need to learn to control that, thanks!
    1. Some experts suggest that if you're a fast eater, you should try counting to thirty while you chew each bite of food. This helps to slow you down and, for a lot of people, it can improve digestion.
  21. Prepping meals ahead of time has been such a time saver but has also allowed us to consistently eat healthier. I find on the days that I don't plan a head I end up eating something unhealthy that I really regret. This is a fantastic post with some great suggestions!
    1. Thanks so much for your support, Bee! We have exactly the same experience as you: If we don't plan ahead, we'll eat something that's less healthy. That always leaves me feeling kind of drained, instead of feeling like my food is nourishing my body.
  22. Love these tips! My New Years resolution is to eat better and save money so this couldn’t come at a better time. Meal prepping is going to be my main focus!
  23. I shared these tips as well. I think these changes are manageable and will improve overall health. This will help me on my journey to making healthier choices.
    1. That's exactly what I started thinking in the final weeks of 2017. I decided that instead of making New Year's resolutions, I wanted to start making small, manageable changes that will improve my family's health :)
  24. These are great suggestions! I never thought of having soup before every meal. I usually ony make soup when it IS the meal. I may have to try that. Thanks!
    1. We also make a lot of main-dish soups. But one thing I want to do this year is to make more vegetable soups that we can eat before a meal. I love tomato-based soups with lots of fresh vegetables in them, so I want to start with lots of those. But I also have a lot of recipes on the blog that are creamy and that still come in around (or less than) 100 calories a bowl. You can check out Squash & Ginger Soup and Cauliflower and Carrot Soup if you like creamy vegetable soups!

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