Keeping Your Diet on Track on a Budget

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Tight budgets can take their toll on healthy eating habits.

A 2011 survey by Gallup and Healthways found that Americans were eating less fruits and vegetables and the economy was partly to blame.

Let’s look at which foods can be good bargains and some lifestyle adjustments you can make so you can lose weight without big grocery bills.

Nutritious Foods

  1. Shop for seasonal produce. The Gallup poll was especially disturbing because it showed produce consumption was down in May, which is usually when Americans start eating more fruits and vegetables. Take advantage of spring and summer specials on blueberries and red and green leaf lettuce.
  2. Look for year round produce bargains. Some vegetables like broccoli and other members of the cabbage family are good deals for every season. They contain loads of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Many studies show that they even lower the risk of certain cancers.
  3. Buy frozen vegetables. While you may prefer the taste of taste of fresh produce, the frozen varieties have similar nutritional values. Try them in recipes for soup or vegetable lasagna.
  4. Eat more beans. Beans double as both a source of low fat protein and vitamin-rich vegetables. Plus, they’re high in fibre and low in calories. Toss them in salads or cook up a pot of chili.
  5. Try canned fish. Canned salmon and tuna have the same powerful omega-3 fatty acids as the more expensive fresh fish. Make a sandwich for lunch or serve a casserole for dinner.
  6. Change your breakfast cereal. Some expensive brands of breakfast cereals have names that sound healthy but still contain a lot of sugar. On the other hand, oatmeal is cheap and easy to prepare.
  7. Focus on whole foods. Whole foods are usually cheaper than supplements and your body will absorb more of the nutrients. Ask your doctor before taking any vitamin or mineral supplements to see if you really need them.

Lifestyle Adjustments That Save Money And Calories

  1. Exercise regularly. The Gallup survey also showed that exercising is down. Stay physically active by taking a daily walk. Your local library is full of exercise books and videos that can teach you routines to do at home.
  2. Get adequate sleep. Sleep deprivation interferes with your ability to judge hunger and generally leads to overeating. If stress or worries are keeping you up at night, try relaxing with meditation or a warm bath.
  3. Drink more water. Staying hydrated is important for your physical and mental well being and suppresses your appetite. Skip the pricey bottled water and get a filter system for your kitchen sink. You can also boil your tap water and chill it.
  4. Start a garden. Grow your own food if you have a backyard. Even if you live in an apartment, you may be able to start a community garden on your rooftop or at your local park. Growing food in pots also works well.
  5. Eat more slowly. Eating more mindfully will help you enjoy your food more and feel satisfied while eating less. Sit down to eat. Put your fork or spoon down in between each bite.

Food prices may soar but smart shoppers know how to find good nutritional bargains.

Aim to eat at least 5 portions of vegetables and fruits each day as part of a healthy lifestyle that will help you maintain your ideal weight while you stick to your budget.

(Photo by nrd on Unsplash)

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