“I’m going to start eating healthy” said everyone, always. It’s that time of year again: the time where we realize that summer is nearly here and that it wouldn’t hurt to trim some extra fluff off our bodies. So how can we break the belly without breaking the bank?
The gist is that you want to be at a caloric deficit – meaning you will use more calories than you consume. In order to achieve this, you want to eat less processed junk foods (think cookies, hot dogs, or chicken nuggets) that are high in calories but don’t fill you up, meaning that you have to eat more, and instead eat foods that will fill you up for longer, think brown rice, eggs, or sweet potatoes. Here are a few tips & specific examples:
- Fruits and veggies are unavoidable, but they can add up…
- Buy them in season! Yes, it’s March and you haven’t had a juicy peach in what feels like years, but you should never have to take out a loan for fresh produce (note, out-of-season fruits or vegetables, will never taste as good as those in-season).
- Buy frozen fruits and vegetables. Aside from being cheaper than fresh ones and already being prepared, they can also elevate an ordinary smoothie to one that is cold, refreshing, with an ice-cream-like consistency, or be thawed out and prepared like fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Canned food is your friend. Protein does not just mean meat, it can mean canned fish or legumes too! Canned foods are inexpensive and can add a lot of fiber and protein to a meal – which will keep you fuller for longer.
- Whole foods. In other words, foods that are less processed. This can mean anything from buying a block of ham over the pre-sliced option, brown sugar over white sugar, or steel-cut oats over rolled, also known as “old-fashioned” oats. These will almost always be cheaper and, depending on the product, may fill you up for longer.
- Buying in bulk will always be cheaper. Buy a lot and freeze the rest for later. Bonus tip: buy bulk items that are on sale to get foods even cheaper. Different items will generally go on sale on different days which will make your meals diverse and not boring.
- Go for the store brand. Yes, we know, it’s just not the same, but hey, it’s pretty close and, unless there’s some crazy sale going on, it will generally be cheaper.
- The way you go on your grocery adventure also matters. Make a grocery list (and try to actually stick to it). Don’t go to the store on an empty stomach either to avoid impulse purchases. In addition, try to shop from the outskirts of the store where the less processed foods generally reside.
- Grow your own food if possible. Seeds are dirt cheap (no pun intended) and many fruits, vegetables, and herbs are low maintenance and save you $$$ while adding tons of flavour to your meals.
- 80:20. Contrary to popular belief, eating “healthy” REQUIRES you to eat some of your favourite junk foods to avoid cravings and binging. A good general rule to follow is the 80:20 rule: around 80% of what you eat should be fiber, protein, and nutrient dense foods, while 20% should be whatever it is you love that may not be considered as healthy.