5 Tips For Eating Well And Losing Weight On A Budget 3

Eating Well & Losing Weight On A Budget- The Poor Man’s Weight Loss Diet Plan

In spite of the daily pronouncements of slow economic recovery the majority of the population is still feeling the effects of the global recession. This is great news for cheap processed food manufacturers and fast food outlets as when budgets are tight many see no other alternative than to turn to inexpensive and unhealthy foods as a way of surviving. Unfortunately many believe that given the current economic difficulties the prospect of eating well and losing weight on a budget seems almost impossible as such endeavors are often equated with spending more money on food. But is it really impossible to eat healthy and lose weight while on a tight budget? Is the poor man’s diet plan inevitably one of low nutrient junk foods high in calories, fat, salt and sugar? It doesn’t have to be and eating well on a budget can be done. I have done it, so have many others that I have worked with over the years, but it does require a change in your way of thinking. Here are five well used tips to eat healthy and lose weight on a budget:

Eating Well & Losing Weight On A Budget The Poor Man’s Weight Loss Diet Plan- Tip 1

Eat Breakfast At Home

There is a saying back were I come from in the islands that a rich man brings his food while the poor man buys his foods out and that is why the rich man stays rich and the poor man stays poor. It’s pretty accurate as it is always far cheaper and healthier to cook your own meals and carry them with you to work than it is to eat out. A consumer review group found that as many as 37% of Americans adults ate breakfast at a fast food chain within the past month.[1] Not surprisingly McDonald’s was the top restaurant (if you can really call it that) followed by Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks and Burger King rounding out the top four national fast food chains frequented for breakfast.[1]. (As an interesting aside, people who eat breakfast at fast food restaurants tend to have active lifestyles and are 14% more likely than the average adult to belong to a health club and engage in regular exercise- so much for the idea of active people eating healthy!) The general cost for breakfast at McDonalds- which is the cheapest of the lot comes in at about $1-$5 (not including tax) depending on where you are in the United States. For those prices you can get some really terrible foods that will go a long way towards helping you start your day the wrong way (there is nothing remotely healthy about things like Egg McMuffins, hash browns, sausages, breakfast burritos or bacon, eggs and cheese made with the lowest grade food products possible and processed meats) . Now while their dollar menu dominates the morning meal battle by offering a fast and cheap way to eat on the run, it is still cheaper to eat better. But it will take a bit longer.

Here’s why- a perfectly balanced and nutritionally sound breakfast of oatmeal (old fashioned oats- not the instant or sugar added varieties), two egg whites and a banana tallies up to a mere $1.49 using organic bananas and free range eggs! (Click here for a copy of Kevin’s free weight loss ebook on healthy breakfast choices.)A container of Quaker Old Fashioned Oatmeal costs $4.89 and yields just about 15 servings (they say 30 servings on the container- but no one would really eat that small of an amount in the real world) so figure about 32 cents a meal- a dozen organic free range large brown eggs cost $4.99 a dozen- which only sounds like a lot if you don’t factor in that two egg whites will cost you only 66 cents a meal. The bananas are organic and at 99 cents a pound would cost just about 49 cents for one. Of course you could go even lower if you didn’t choose organic fare and keep in mind that the prices quoted are all from Fresh Direct, which is for the most part a tad more expensive than what you can find if you shopped around. Either way you are still eating breakfast for less than what you would pay for at Starbucks and the regular menus at McDonald’s but you do have to watch your portions, which leads to the next tip on eating healthy on a budget:

Eating Well & Losing Weight On A Budget- The Poor Man’s Weight Loss Diet Plan – Tip 2

Eat smaller portions.

One of the first things that I noticed when I came to the United States is just how large the portion sizes are. I remember well ordering at a restaurant and being amazed at how much food they piled on my plate, it was at least twice as much as I would have got at a restaurant back in the West Indies! In general few people realize that you really don’t need to eat as much food as they do and that eating less is not only healthy, but will save you money. Knowing how much is enough is not an easy task and studies have consistently shown that most people are unable to accurately estimate their food intake. It is so difficult that a study involving nutrition students that had been rigorously trained in food energy content found that even they had a low level of accuracy (18.5%) in figuring out the caloric value of several foods set in front of them. [3] Also you don’t want to go down the road of measuring your food and counting calories as it can become a bit obsessive and has little to do with a natural way of losing weight. So how do you know how much is enough? Simple, you use my rule of thirds for losing weight.

The rule of thirds- First when preparing your meals, always give yourself one third less than your regular serving. It isn’t that hard to do, but you are in one move cutting your calories, ensuring that you don’t overeat and reducing your food bill by 33%! The second part of my rule of thirds is to imagine your stomach as divided into three equal sections. Now whenever you eat you always leave one third of it empty.

As simple as this may seem, these two easy methods of self regulation have helped everyone from housewives to physique competitors that I have worked with over the years get into optimal shape and it is a simple way to accurately regulate your dietary intake without depriving yourself. It also helps you cut down on your food expenses by eating less. As a result, you will have a little more money to spend on better quality foods.

 

Eating Well & Losing Weight On A Budget- The Poor Man’s Weight Loss Diet Plan – Tip 3

Cook Your Meals And Bring Them With You.

We already covered how much cheaper it is to eat in than eat out when it comes to breakfast, but keep in mind that the healthiest of restaurants for lunch or dinner can never be as healthy or cost effective as the food you make at home. The convenience of being able to grab somethingwhen eating on a budget you have to bring your meals with you on the go is appealing, but to get a really good meal, you will pay more buying from a health focused restaurant- and you don’t really know if the food is as healthy as they claim it to be. Chains like subway create the illusion that somehow their foods are healthy- but for the most part, they are not. As for fast foods- they might be easy to get and inexpensive, but keep in mind that you are paying for food- not nutrition and that your body will always want more as it isn’t getting what it needs. Also the price you will pay in medical costs resulting from obesity and the slew of metabolic related diseases that come with it such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension is a hidden cost in every cheap meal. So what do you do when you don’t have that much to spend on food- cook and carry!

The best way to afford good quality food is to cook all of you meals for the week on the weekend and portion your meals out (using the weight loss rule of thirds) into Tupperware containers that you refrigerate and take with you when you need it. A simple meal consisting of organic chicken, brown rice and lentils can cost as little as $4.05 [2]- which is even less than what it would cost in some fast food chains! An organic chicken costs about $14.00 (I know it sounds like a lot, but trust me it is worth it as all chicken isn’t exactly chicken!) which would yield let’s say four servings (even less if you are under 180 lbs or not very active), which works out to $3.49 per serving. Basmati brown rice costs about $4.29 for a 2 lb bag, which is about ten servings (the label says a ¼ cup per serving which would yield 19 servings, but ½ cup is a bit more realistic) which comes to 42 cents a serving. Add lentils to give everything some flavor and it adds only 14 cents to the total.

You can make these prices go even lower by following these rules:

  • Buy in bulk whenever you can- you’ll spend less per serving.
  • Avoid uselessly pricey meats like skinless boneless chicken breasts- a whole organic chicken usually costs as much as two or three tiny cutlets and who said you only had to eat chicken breasts to lose weight? Eat the whole chicken!
  • Don’t shop hungry- you’ll buy stuff you don’t need.
  • If there are farms near where you live- go straight to the source to buy. Farmers are people and you can always strike up a relationship with some of them and not have to pay extra for the transportation and middlemen that it takes to get their produce to the markets!
  • Grow something. A small home garden is a good idea for anyone trying to stay on the straight and narrow path of eating well on a budget- the bigger the better, but a small plot on your windowsill is good enough.

Eating Well & Losing Weight On A Budget- The Poor Man’s Weight Loss Diet Plan- Tip 4

Drink Only Water.

drinking only water is the best bet on the poor man's diet planThat’s right- stop the coffee, stop the juice and for your own good stop the vitamin water and sports drinks. (Don’t worry about not getting your vitamins by avoiding juices- as you can get more than enough from fruits and vegetables, but with healthy fiber and without the excess calories.) Drinking alcohol is a great way to spend a lot of money on something that will make you gain weight and pretty much negate most of your diet and exercise endeavors and cutting it out will not only help your wallet but your waistline.  The only fluid your body needs is water and if you live in most parts of the United States tap water is fine- most of the bottled water you drink isn’t that better than what comes out of your faucet- it just has millions of dollars in advertising behind it designed to make you think it is. I am always astonished by the number of people that say that they can’t afford to eat healthy and yet ‘treat’ themselves to a Starbucks coffee once or twice a week. At about $5 a week that is $260 a year or two months worth of healthy lunches! Take into consideration how much we spend on juices and the dental fees that accrue as a result of tooth decay and you can clearly see that there are hidden costs involved. Drinking only water will also reduce your caloric intake significantly and you will see a major and permanent reduction in your body weight and body fat if you make the switch and follow the aforementioned guidelines.

To make it work always carry a bottle (not plastic if you can avoid it- we do also have an environment to keep healthy) with you. Don’t spend money on vending machine drinks (or water) and keep refilling it from the tap or water fountain if you have one. Don’t fall into the bottled water trap. Americans spent 15 billion dollars on bottled water in 2006, that’s more money than we spent on iPods or even movie tickets![4] All for something that you can get for free! No study has ever found bottled water to be healthier or better for you than tap water- so put the money you save towards better quality food.

 

Eating Well & Losing Weight On A Budget- The Poor Man’s Weight Loss Diet Plan- Tip 5

Slow Down And Change The Way You See Time.

You might wonder what time perception has to do with eating healthy on a budget, but it has everything to do with it. We live in fast paced society where every second is supposed to count and convenience has long triumphed over quality. It is the way we see the world that enslaves us as most of us make food choices with the idea that we don’t have enough time to cook, or enough time to find a healthy food alternative or even enough time to leave our desks to sit and have a proper meal. The average American over the age of 15 spends only 67 minutes just eating and drinking and 16 minutes a day eating while working, watching TV or doing some other activity [5, 6] figures far removed from that of our European counterparts who place more importance on the idea of sitting down and enjoying a meal. Four percent of us reported never spending any time just eating or drinking but doing so only while engaged in work or some other activity. It is this very mentality that creates our unnatural perception that our food needs to be something quick. Studies have found that the faster you eat, the more likely you are to overeat[6,7], so don’t make eating a race. Everything comes with a price and fast and convenient food comes with a price that no budget can handle- the price of your health. The price you pay in taking the time to plan and cook your own meals not only saves you money, but will go a long way towards helping you achieve the type of body that you can be proud of, and how priceless is that?

 
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Kevin Richardson is one of the most respected and sought after personal trainers in New York City and his Naturally Intense High Intensity Training system has helped thousands get into better shape in less time over the past 23 years! Follow Kevin on twitter here!

References:

1.      Scarborough Research, Scarborough USA+ Study, Release 2 2009

2.      Fresh Direct

3.      Japur CC, Diez-Garcia RW. Food energy content influences food portion size estimation by nutrition students. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2010

4.      Fast Company Magazine- Message I a bottle- Charles Fishman

5.      Bureau  of Labor Statistics 2006 American Time Use Survey and ERS 2006 Eating & Health

6.      Kokkinos A, Roux CW, Alexiadou K, Tentolouris N, Vincent R, Kyriaki D, Perrea D, Ghatei MA, Bloom S,Katsilambros N. Eating slowly increases the postprandial response of the anorexigenic gut hormones, peptide YY and glucagon-like peptide-1. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010

7.      Maruyama K, Sato S, Ohira T, Maeda K, Noda H, Kubota Y, Nishimura S, Kitamura A, Kiyama M, Okada T, Imano H, Nakamura M, Ishikawa Y, Kurokawa M, Sasaki S, Iso H.The joint impact on being overweight of self reported behaviours of eating quickly and eating until full: cross sectional survey. BMJ. 2008


 

 

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