Thursday, February 18, 2010

Is It Possible to Diet on the Cheap?

I am not in the obese category but my blogger butt sure isn't getting any smaller. I waiver between the need for nutritious food and exercise and my love for junk food and surfing the net way more than I should.
The exercising on the cheap part was taken care of in the last post (now all I have to do is actually get out and do it) but many people say that dieting always involves spending lots of money--from the extreme of paying for lap band surgery ($$$$) to joining Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers ($$$) to buying special (read, expensive) food ($$). I have been kicking around the idea of a modified Paleo diet and thought that I would give it a try for a week, both to determine its effectiveness and to see if it really does cost more for food.
I'll update this post each day for a week with the food I ate and the estimated cost just to see what happens.

Breakfast--Banana 20 cents
Lunch--Tuna salad wrapped in lettuce leaves $1
Snack--Raisins and walnuts 75 cents
Dinner--Lentil soup, salad, chicken in Thai sauce $2
Notes--yesterday my diet included cereal with milk, a burger for lunch, potato chips, almost an entire box of Girl Scout thin mints, and a blended coffee and ice cream beverage. Today's food was like a 180 change. I'm craving a Frapuccino!

Breakfast--hard boiled egg, boiled apple with cinnamon 65 cents
Lunch--chicken caesar salad $0 (client paid for it)
Snack--banana and strawberries $1
Dinner--tiny piece of steak, corn, salad, sweet potato $1.50
Dessert--two dried dates 20 cents
Notes--feel crappy and rather sick, mostly head cold stuff. I hope this is just my body detoxing.

Breakfast--hard boiled egg, boiled apple with cinnamon, sweet potatoes 95 cents
Trail lunch--hard boiled egg, raisins and peanuts, grapes 95 cents
Dinner--lentil soup, salad, corn, couple small chunks of chicken $1.25
Notes--felt super energetic early this morning so decided to walk a half marathon with our local Volksmarch group. Afterwords my horrible head cold returned and now my body feels like it has been hit by a truck because I am basically so out of shape. Can't believe I ate healthy for three days in a row, I think this is some sort of record!

Breakfast--strawberries, raisins, peanuts 75 cents
Lunch--potato salad, corn chips and salsa 65 cents
Snack--cashews 50 cents
Dinner--baked cod, asparagus $1.25
Notes--still have the horrible head cold which is why I think I am not eating much (see comment from reader) since I never feel like eating if I am sick. Went to the grocery store today to get groceries and realized that (following the Paleo diet principles) you can't eat about 95% of what is in the store! According to the Paleo diet principles, you should only eat meat, fruit, vegies, and nuts/seeds, no dairy, grains of any type, legumes, or root vegetables. I'm fairly sure I couldn't do such a restrictive diet long-term (also see comment from reader), mostly because I don't really like to eat much meat and my two favorite food groups are dairy and grains! Some modifications are definitely in order but so far my body actually feels pretty good (no bloating or the highs and lows you get from caffeine). We'll see what happens in the next few days of this experiment...

Breakfast--banana, tangerine, potato salad 90 cents
Lunch--baked chicken, asparagus $1.50
Snack--corn chips and salsa 50 cents
Dinner--lentil soup, salad $1.25
Notes--cold is all gone and I feel great, one of the faster recoveries I have enjoyed. Finding that I seriously could not do a Paleo diet for very long--I don't eat much meat and this diet is all about meat (ick...kind of), I've eaten so many eggs this week I don't want to look at another hard boiled egg, and I love fruit and vegetables but when all you have to look forward to is fruit and vegetables and meat thanks. Obviously this isn't a true Paleo diet because I have thrown in potatoes, sweet potatoes, and corn chips just for some solid "food". Think I would rather die happy and well fed at 60 than miserable and skinny at 80...

~~End of Experiment~~

Conclusions: radical diets are just too radical for me. To answer the original question, yes it is possible to diet on the cheap. The Paleo diet is supposed to be one of the more expensive diets to do and I guess it would cost more than I have recorded to sustain the average 1800-2000 calorie a day intake of meat, fruit, and vegies because you have to eat a WHOLE LOT of these items to replace the calories you would usually get when including grains and tuberous vegetables in your diet. However, even though I wasn't thrilled about this this experiment, I realized that over the last five days I have saved a whole bunch of money on junk food, fast food, and treats like a frap at Starbucks. I think when people say they can't afford good, nutritious food, they don't stop to add up the money they spend on junk food, eating out, picking up treats as you pass by the local convenience store, or grabbing a drink each morning at your favorite coffee stand.
I think I will keep some of the things I have learned--like eating three meals a day with a small snack (as opposed to grazing throughout the day which allows you can eat a lot of calories and not even realize it), cutting back on wheat and dairy because I believe I am sensitive to these items, but definitely adding back grains like rice and legumes such as beans which tend to make up most of my favorite foods.
As the comment below change is the name of the game not restrictive dieting.

1 comment:

  1. Karen Peissinger-VenhausFebruary 21, 2010 at 7:57 AM

    I understand you are experimenting, but I would highly encourage you to eat even more healthy calories. I'm sure this sounds counter-intuitive when trying to lose weight. If you fill yourself up on legumes, vegetables, fruit, and whole grains (with some low-fat dairy for calcium and added protein), then I think the junk food cravings will decrease. Also, you will have more spare calories for your body to draw upon when you do half-marathon walking, and for recovery afterwards. Think of all this as a lifestyle modification to be continued for the rest of your life for promotion of your health and your well-being. Erase the word "diet" from your vocabulary, and mind. :-)

    Related to the theme of your blog, buying legumes and grains in bulk is very inexpensive. Cooking them takes time, which can be reduced by the use of a pressure cooker.