“Eat for $1,” Sandy Vilela, 45, loudly shouts every day outside the Francisco de Ycaza Bustamante Children’s Hospital, in southern Guayaquil.

A woman offers containers of food to passers-by and family members waiting outside the hospital. It has a varied menu: guatita, guatallarín, rice with paprikash and roasted chicken, cutlet in juice, fried food, rice with Russian salad, shrimp ceviche, meat noodles, among others.

‘My daughter and I eat with two dollars, I’m looking for the cheapest’: this is the search for cheap lunches on the streets of Ecuador

Vilela has been working there for five years. He comes from the province of Manabí where he had a restaurant where he sold breakfasts, lunches and snacks. He made the decision to migrate to Guayaquil after the earthquake in April 2016. In this incident, he lost his house and the premises he rented.

He states that due to the urgency of economic income, he traveled to Guayaquil, where he created the idea of ​​selling food for $1, a business that supports his family. Your job is not easy. He gets up at 03:00 to prepare the menus and finishes at 08:00.

Later, he goes to the hospital with his wife. He helps her by removing the tubs and also warns her of the possible presence of Metropolitan agents in the area.

“The dish that sells the most is guatallarín and chicken chests,” says the shopkeeper, who when she has a little poop left, and it’s already late, decides to give them away to passers-by. – I never take anything, I always give what I have left – says Vilela.

Unofficial vendors set up shop on the street and sell $1 meals Photo: Francisco Verni Photo: Space

Why sell for one dollar? Vilela explains that she offers barrels of food at that price because outside the hospital she understands that people do not have more to pay. “I’m here to help, to serve (…) People here prefer to eat a dollar rather than go eat in a restaurant that costs between 2.50 and 3 dollars,” says the woman.

These options are also available in the Bay Area, where street vendors are seen offering one-dollar meals, with a menu similar to that of Vilela. Outside the port of Guayaquil and in the sectors where it is being built, there is also the alternative of food containers for one dollar, all informal and delivered discreetly or on demand.

Is it healthy to consume these foods?

Sussy Corral, graduate nutritionist, dietitian and esthetician, assures that this diet, in general, is not nutritionally well balanced.

The trend in domestic gastronomy, apart from the price, is to double the carbohydrates with some vegetables (salad) or fiber, in order to satisfy the national palate accustomed to this type of food, such as rice with puree and mature fried plus protein.

“You’ll get more carbs, fat and not a lot of protein on your plate,” he says.

A greater balance must be sought when purchasing these cheaper meals. People who consume these foods every day, as well as those currently offered, have digestive and hormonal problems because the ratios between the three main components of the diet: protein, carbohydrates, fat and fiber are not recommended.

In the digestive area, Corral points out, the consequence is constipation and possible gastritis. These meals are based on simple carbohydrates, salt and a little protein without fiber. In terms of hormones, the impact can occur due to an increase in blood sugar levels and the worsening of existing diseases such as high blood pressure.

“These foods will cause your blood pressure to rise because of the high sodium content,” he says.

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Nutritionist Evelyn Panchana agrees with Corral. He says that excessive consumption of processed foods can affect the digestive system, causing constipation, colitis and more. “These foods contain high levels of saturated fat, which contribute to problems such as obesity and inflammatory bowel disease.” Additionally, the lack of fiber in this food affects bowel regularity, he explains.

The risks of consuming this food can be short-term or long-term.

In this case, Corral warns that the first thing that will happen in the digestive system will be constipation or a feeling of satiety. When people say ‘I feel full’ after eating, it is because digestion slows down when there is excess fat, he points out.

In this sense, the expert suggests that the ideal thing in the diet is to have a portion of vegetables or vegetables for a portion of fiber. He The intake of carbohydrates should not exceed a handful of those who consume them, and the amount of protein should be in the palm of your hand without counting on your fingers.stands out.

“People are afraid of visiting nutritionists because they think diets are expensive.”

Panchana explains that the food that should be consumed daily must be ‘cease’, that is, complete, balanced, sufficient and adequate. In this sense, complete, must include foods from all groups such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats and fruits; balanced, providing appropriate nutrients and proportions in relation to age and lifestyle; sufficient, which meets the needs of calories and nutrients; suitable for the stage of life, and this depends on whether you are an athlete or an elderly person with a pathology, says the expert.

A healthy and cheap food option