CONSUMER TIP

Tips for losing extra weight while staying on a budget


Published: Thursday, January 6, 2011 at 6:13 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 6, 2011 at 6:13 p.m.

PORTLAND, Ore. - If your New Year's resolutions include dropping weight, you shouldn't worry about having to drop a bunch of cash, too.

Here are tips on losing weight without the expensive gym membership, personal trainer or the latest weight-loss meal system.

Shop smart: Before you leave for the grocery store, plan out a shopping list so you buy only things you'll use.

Also, avoid processed food.

Protein is typically the most expensive part of a meal, but it doesn't have to be.

Low-cost, healthy options include eggs, beans, canned fish and chicken.

If you like red meat, remember the lower-cost cuts are often better for you (it's the fat and marbling in higher-cost meat that make it tender).

Fresh produce is great, but also consider buying frozen fruits and vegetables.

The nutritional value is the same, but the product will keep longer and may be cheaper.

Instead of buying processed foods, even if they're cheap, focus on healthy, whole foods that provide more nutritional bang for your buck.

Helpful Hint: To avoid processed food, stick to the perimeter of the store where the fresh produce, meat and dairy products are.

Eat at home: Cooking at home helps you control cost, calories and portion sizes. And if you cook enough to generate leftovers, you can enjoy those benefits for a few extra days.

Many factors cause us to overeat when we dine out, says Diane Stadler, a registered dietitian and director of the graduate programs in human nutrition at Oregon Health and Science University. Restaurants tend to serve larger portions than you'd eat at home and use more oil and butter.

Helpful Hint: Don't feel obligated to eat everything you pay for. Stop when you're full.

Sip savvy: Beware of beverages of all kinds because of the calories they bring, usually with limited nutritional value, and the money they cost.

If possible, drink water or low-fat milk. Cut out sodas or switch to diet soft drinks. Keep fruit juice consumption to a minimum and steer clear of energy drinks and specialty coffee drinks, which are often high in sugar.

One of the easiest ways to sabotage a diet and cause other health problems is drinking too much alcohol. So keep it moderate — one glass of wine per day for women and two for men.

Helpful Hint: Seltzer has no calories, is refreshing and can be decorated just like a mixed drink or even dyed.

Exercise: Increasing physical activity as you cut calories is key to keeping off the weight you lose. The activity doesn't have to be intense or expensive, but it is essential.

Add a daily walk to your routine. Or borrow exercise DVDs from the library. A modest investment can add dumbbells, a jump rope or fitness ball to your home workout.

Whenever you can, take the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator. And, just for laughs, trying keeping up with little kids for a day.

Helpful Hint: Some physical activities can actually save you money. For example, cut the cable and spend the time you used to watch TV outdoors instead. Walk or bike to work instead of driving or taking mass transit. Stop paying others to clean your house, mow the lawn and wash the car and do those chores yourself.

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