Weighing In: How do I lose weight on a budget?

Heather Reese Health Guide
  • Question: I need to lose weight but I’m on a tight budget. "Diet" food is rather expensive and I just don’t have the luxury of buying myself "special" food when I have to feed my family on my limited income. I am very frustrated and worried because it’s not just a vanity issue, it’s a health issue. What do you do when unavoidable life situations keep you from living a healthy lifestyle? My doctor has given me 6 months to get my cholesterol down and I just don’t think I can do it.

    Heather: Don’t worry you don’t need to have a lot of money to eat healthfully and be more physically active. In fact, there are a lot of affordable options for healthy eating that can help you reach your weight loss goals. The opportunities for healthy living are everywhere if you look for them.
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    You don’t need an expensive program to lose weight, you can start by purchasing fresh produce and lean meats instead of processed foods that are high in fat and sodium. And instead of frying your foods you can bake, broil and grill them to cut down on added fat and calories. You can also keep vegetables light and healthy by steaming them instead of cooking them in butter.

    The key to weight loss is cutting calories, and doing so through changes that you can maintain over the long term. One of the easiest ways to cut calories is to cut down on portion sizes. Even if you don’t change the types of foods you eat and your cooking methods, you can cut calories by cutting portion sizes.

    However, I do recommend using low fat cooking methods for overall heart health. Consuming foods that are high in saturated fat can contribute to heart disease. And fat from animal products like high fat meats, full-fat dairy and butter can contribute to high cholesterol levels. Try using unsaturated fats like olive and canola oils when cooking instead of butter. These fats have been found to improve your healthy cholesterol levels and have other heart health benefits.

    Exercise is also a vital part of weight control, as well as heart health. In fact, being physically active on a regular basis can lower cholesterol levels. But this doesn’t mean that you have to join a gym and start doing structured workouts. Consider walking more by parking farther away from the door when running errands and taking the steps instead of an elevator. You can also engage your whole family by taking walks after dinner.

    Start with small goals – like being active for 10 minutes a day or just being more active than you were the day before. It is generally recommended that you be physically active for at least 30 minutes everyday but if you aren’t currently active, you may want to work.

    Some other ways to be more active include taking items upstairs several times a day instead of piling them up at the bottom of the stairs and then taking one trip. You could also take the whole family to a local museum or zoo; this is an easy way to be active without trying.
Published On: April 07, 2008