Thursday, December 8, 2011

Save Money While Improving Your Diet

By Laura Axelrod
Staff writer
Most people don’t realize you can save money by improving your diet. It may seem counter-intuitive. After all, healthful foods, such as fresh fruit and vegetables cost more than a bag of chips or cookies. When you buy junk food, it feels like a bargain. But the money you save today will end up costing you in the long run. When you fill up on junk food, your body isn’t getting the nourishment it needs. That leads to health problems and doctor bills down the road.

Changing your habits and attitudes about food will help you and your pocketbook.

Drink Water
Rather than drinking water, many people fill up on soda and juices filled with high-fructose corn syrup. These alternatives add empty calories to your diet. They also have little to no nutritional value. The corn syrup will likely spike your blood sugar, causing you to feel tired later in the day.

Drinking eight eight-ounce glasses of water will hydrate your body and keep your system healthy. You may even begin to lose weight. Many people mistake thirst for hunger. Drinking water in the morning is a fabulous way to start your day.

Portion Control
Portion sizes have grown over the years. Restaurants serve large meals, with more food than you could ever consume in one sitting. Even when dining at home, it is easy to overeat. Before starting your next meal, compare your serving with the suggested serving listed on the food label. The difference in amounts may surprise you.

Consider using your hands or familiar objects as guidelines for portion control. Your fist equals a cup of cereal, fruit or salad. A tablespoon is half a ping-pong ball. Eat half of what you order in a restaurant. Request a to-go box early, so you can enjoy the food at another time. Periodically measure your portions to make sure they have not grown.

Eat When Hungry
One way to save money and lose weight is to eat only when you are hungry. Many people use food as a distraction. They eat when they are bored, sad, angry or depressed. Meals and snacks become a drug rather than a way of caring for your body. Other times, you may be eating simply out of habit. Before grabbing a meal or snack, ask yourself if you are physically hungry. If not, consider other ways you can satisfy your emotional needs. Rather than eating, take a walk or write in a journal. You may look forward to your new habit, rather than your next meal.

Plan Ahead When Traveling
When you are traveling on business, plan your meals ahead of time. Check the web to see which restaurants are in the neighborhood. You can usually find menus on the their websites. It will give you the opportunity to make sure the restaurant is within your budget. You can also think about which meals are best for your diet. If you plan on having a large dinner, you could eat light for breakfast and lunch. But don’t skip meals. You will only be setting yourself up for a large food bill later in the day.

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Photo by Gila Brand. Used under Creative Commons license.

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