You want to eat healthy foods, but organic fruit and vegetables are so expensive, lean cuts of meat are so much more expensive than a packet of sausages, and protein supplements cost and arm and a leg! How are you supposed to lose weight when you are on a budget?
We’ve taken a look at healthy meals and snacks, and found ways to get the best bang for your buck…
Fruit and vegetables
Did you know that when it comes to fruit and veg, that the majority of us don’t eat anywhere near enough in a day. Thats 2-3 pieces of whole fruit, and either 2.5 cups of cooked vegetables or 5 cups of salad vegetables. Every day.
What has been found in terms of health and weight loss, is that increasing your intake of fruit and vegetables whether you choose organic or not has much greater health benefits than the jump from regular supermarket varieties to organic does. In other words, if you aren’t meeting your daily intake requirements, worry less about making the perfect chemical free choice and more about the basics.
If you are going to buy organic, there are some items where because you are removing the skin, there is very little actual difference in chemicals between organic and non-organic. Things like bananas, mango, passionfruit, avocado, rockmelon, pineapple, grapefruit, watermelon, sweet potato, and kiwi fruit you don’t need to buy organic.
Ones that do tend to have higher levels of pesticide chemicals include apples (unpeeled), blueberries, strawberries, grapes, cucumber, peaches, nectarines, lettuce or spinach, and potatoes. If you are going to buy organic, go for these and save money on the rest.
Protein sources include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, legumes, tofu, and dairy. It is important to get in high quality lean versions of protein to help you feel fuller for longer, to help repair your muscles after exercise, and for key nutrients such as iron. Adequate protein intake has been shown to result in better weight loss results than inadequate intake (like high carb diets).
You may think that buying leaner more expensive cuts of meat is going to break the bank, but lets stop and think about the actual quantity of meat you should actually be eating. Most of us eat meat portions wayyyyy larger than what we should actually be eating. In fact, look at the palm of your hand. That’s roughly the size of the meat portion you should be having, in a whole day. Are you the type who has cold meat on their sandwich? Leftovers for lunch? If you eat meat/chicken/fish in two of your meals a day, you should be having a portion that is HALF the size of the palm of your hand.
“But I would starve on that!”
You would think so, but what you choose to do instead is to increase the amount of vegetables in a meal which are packed full of fibre which helps make you feel full and satisfied. Add in a moderate portion of low GI carbohydrate like basmati rice, sobi noodles, wholemeal pasta, couscous, or lentils, plus some healthy fats like olive oil or avocado, and you are onto a winning combo for sustained blood sugar levels and fighting hunger.
When portions are smaller, you may find your meat budget stays about the same, as you are eating less but higher quality.
Almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk, soy yoghurt, all are much more expensive than regular old dairy that comes from a cow. What you need to be asking yourself is this… Are you choosing these items because you think they are better for you? Or because you have a lactose intolerance or milk protein allergy.
If you are buying these dairy alternatives for the sake of being healthier, you don’t need to. Many of these milks are inferior in terms of nutrients like calcium, have added sugar to make them more palatable, and are lower in calories… meaning you get hungry quicker. The research is actually showing that through ways which we don’t yet fully understand, regular cows milk can be beneficial to weight loss, diabetes, and heart health.
Plus, if you don’t use it, you lose it. A tolerance to lactose that is. Many find that if they go through a period of going dairy/lactose free, that their body stops producing as much of the gut enzyme which is responsible for breaking down lactose, the naturally occurring sugar found in dairy. This can cause limited lactose tolerance, or total intolerance.
Dried fruit and nut bars, muesli bars, vegetable chips, low fat muffins, protein bars. Check out the price per unit. Not only is it really expensive to eat these foods, they are often not really that healthy, having large amounts of added sugar or fat.
Choosing snacks that are as close as possible to being whole foods is not only cheaper, but much healthier. Yoghurt, raw unsalted nuts, fresh fruit, tuna on wholegrain crackers, vegetable sticks and hummus, a home made savoury muffin made with wholemeal flour and lots of vegetables, all great options that are less processed, cheaper, and better for you.
Healthy takeaway or preprepared meals cost more. We know this. Which is why in order to make long term changes to be healthier and lose weight, if you are on a budget, you are going to need to start cooking your meals from scratch. They don’t need to be time consuming, complicated recipes. You can also cook in bulk and take leftover to work the next day for lunch, or freeze for later in the week or a night when you don’t have the energy to cook.
Herbs and spices from a jar are just fine. Better yet, grow your own herb garden on a windowsill and get fresh herbs for free. Experiment with some different recipes, and when you find ones that you like, you will find that you can cook them on autopilot after a few attempts. Salads with lean beef or chicken tossed through is a great quick meal. So are stir fries, or your standard half a plate of vegetables + a piece of lean non-stick pan cooked protein + some healthy carbs.
If you put these tips into action and are still struggling to know what to do with your meals and snacks, and are really serious about losing weight, why not book in for one of our retreats where we run nutrition seminars and cooking classes so that you can walk away knowing just what you need to do to get your weight back on track.