I’ve lost almost 100 pounds gained from two stillbirths, early menopause and taking the antidepressant Paxil (known for causing weight gain, says Mayo Clinic). I lost weight by following Dr. Oz’s advice and swapping fatty, high-carb foods for healthy, fat-blasting foods. Lots of people tell me diet food is more expensive and they can’t afford it. They’re right–about the commercial kind. But not natural, healthy diet food. I save money–like 50-percent off my grocery bill–buying it.
Less is less
Dieting means eating less food. That obviously saves money. But it goes beyond that. Controlling portions stretches a box of cereal twice as far as when I was heedlessly pouring it out. I buy 95 percent fewer packaged and processed foods, salty snacks, sweets, baked goods because I know how calorie-dense and nutrition-void they are!
Scheduled eating vs. mindless snacking
Counting calories, I’m mindful of what goes in my mouth. With an organized eating schedule–six small meals and snacks and only certain foods at certain times–food goes farther.
Planned eating shrunk my shopping list. I buy groceries only from my diet food list. Tracking sales is easier and saves. I can buy reduced-price perishables–produce, dairy, meat, grains–because I know they’ll get eaten.
Fresh over processed
There’s a prevailing misnomer that processed food is cheaper. That’s why lunch programs serve hotdogs and packaged sweets and food pantries dole out macaroni and cheese. This is wrong on many levels. These foods exact a toll in obesity and health issues. Even worse, they’re not cheaper. Packaged food goes through more processes which add to cost. Packaging costs more. To lose weight and cost, your grocery cart should contain 80 percent fresh food–fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fiber-rich foods, lean meat, lowfat dairy.
Healthy, natural vs. commercial “diet” food
Keywords: natural and healthy, which most commercial diet food isn’t. It may be low-calorie but it’s high junk–salt, artificial ingredients (aspartame, saccharine), gluten, low fiber, transfat, no fiber, hydrogenated fat, refined and bleached grains, preservatives, nitrates, yes, even sugar (read the “diet” snack bar labels). Sometimes isn’t even low-calorie. Processed diet food are loaded with corn, wheat and soy–notorious fat-builders. Buying commercial diet foods tacks on cost and ironically, pounds. I used to eat diet meals and food bars, thinking I’d lose. I actually gained weight.
The more you make from scratch, the more you save. You also control what goes into your food. Deli-made shrimp salad cost about $7.99 a pound, is loaded with fat and contains almost no veggies. A pound serves 2-3 people. I cook a 16-ounce box of reduced-fat, whole-grain, vegetable pasta (or shirataki zero-calorie noodles, like Nasoya). I add two cans of tuna, two teaspoons light canola mayonnaise, cucumber, onion, green pepper, celery and shredded carrots. Cost: $4 for 16 servings (more if you use Nasoya).
80 percent of my plate is vegetables and fruit. I could grow most of my meal. I shop farmers markets and buy local, fresh, organic, homegrown, in bulk. I can freeze and can food. This shaves my bill farther plus I’m stimulating a sustainable economy instead of supportive a corporate conglomerate.
What about my family? They’re not dieting and I still have to shop for them. But I use these tips to keep their grocery bill down, too.