NYT: The recession may actually be helping some Americans improve their health.

The recession’s silver lining is welcome news. On the other hand, this silver lining only applies to those who had any spending to cut in the first place. People who were poor or borderline poor before the recession now have even less leeway to change their shopping habits.

Being frugal implies you are making a choice. Being poor is something different altogether.

As the Bucks blog notes, frugal choices can be healthy ones. Prioritizing away junk food at the grocery store, quitting smoking, cutting back on drinking, replacing your car with a bike are all frugal and healthy choices.

But choice is the key word here. To put the semantics in context, the Frugal Gourmet of days gone by was delightful, but truth be told a bit bourgeois.

Poverty is not a choice. And it is not likely to make you healthier. Consider the link between obesity and poverty.  The relationship between income level and health is complicated, but for those on the margins it’s unlikely that less money will lead to healthier choices.

Lack of financial services is a persistent barrier to overcoming poverty. Considering that even wealthy, well-educated people generally engage professionals to advise their financial choices, the poor are truly in need of such services. Smart financial choices are fundamental to economic mobility. And with mobility comes the privilege of choice when it comes to what kind of food they eat, where they live, how they entertain themselves and a host of things others may take for granted that deeply affect health and other issues. With this in mind, we started HelloWallet to provide affordable financial guidance to people from all income groups. When you sign up with HelloWallet to receive financial advice of your own, you help us help others as well—we provide a free account to a family in need for every five people who sign up.

P.S. Here’s how to prepare some bourgeois hors d’oeuvres on the cheap, courtesy of the Frugal Gourmet.