How to be healthy and economical

I don’t know if you’ve heard but fad diets are so out of season, and “lifestyle change” is the new hot phrase that’s trending globally. Alina Hardcastle explores how to be both healthy and economical.

Now, while diets may help you lose weight temporarily, a lifestyle change is the key to long-term weight maintenance, and should become a natural part of your daily routine.

Fitness and nutrition expert, Masego Kakoma says that she’s personally not a big fan of diets, instead she advises consumers to adopt healthy eating habits such as: eating vegetables paired with good proteins and carbohydrates.

ADSA (Association for Dietetics in South Africa)spokesperson and registered dietitian, Jessica Byrne adds: “Often these diets are very restrictive and low in kilojoules, which may lead to an initial weight loss, but causes the body’s metabolism to slow down, making further weight loss difficult. Many of these diets do not provide adequate nutrients from a variety of foods, require expensive supplements and products to be purchased, and can be repetitive and boring, making these diets difficult to sustain long term.”

What you should be consuming on a daily basis

Nutrition plays a vital role in losing weight so it is essential to have three regular meals a day with small healthy snacks in between, if you’re really hungry.

Byrne advises readers to aim for a balanced main meal on you plate, which would consist of:

  • Half a plate of vegetables, salad or fruit.
  • A quarter (lean) piece of protein, i.e. fish or chicken without skin
  • A quarter of whole grain or high fibre starch e.g. brown rice, whole wheat pasta, or pearl barely.

Also avoid having sugar drinks or fruit juices too often, as these provide unnecessary kilojoules. Rather stick to drinking water during the day, both with and between meals.

Portion sizes

There is no one size fits all when it comes to portion sizes. This will depend on your current weight and how active you are. Following some else’s plan would only be a temporary fix. Byrne suggests using your hand as rough guide to measure appropriate portion sizes suitable for you:

  • Palm of your hand –Your protein food portions should be the size of your palm, which is on average 90g.
  • Tip of your thumb – Keep portions of oils, soft margarine and mayonnaise to the tip of your thumb, which is about one teaspoon.
  • Clenched fist – Keep the portions of fruit and starchy foods, such as cooked brown rice, oats or potatoes to about the size of your clenched fist, which is equal to 1 cup.
  • Two handfuls – This makes up a good portion of vegetables to be included at most meals.
  • A handful – This is a good portion of raisins or unsalted nuts for a healthy snack, and two handfuls of home-made popcorn is also another great snack option.

 Healthy savings tips

 The next step is to become a little more organised. Plan your meals and start preparing and pre-preparing your own meals instead of purchasing “fast foods.”

Faaizah Asmal Laher, a registered dietician and ADSA spokesperson,advises the following savings tips:

  • For the foods you eat the most, purchase only the highest quality produce: Purchase organic foods which are in season and are locally sourced as they are tastier, cheaper and have higher levels of antioxidants and various vitamins and minerals such as: vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and iron.
  • Check store circulars and newsletters for coupons: Some retailers even provide coupon printouts from the register when you are checking out.
  • Prioritise: The ten most necessary organic products which you should be spending on in order of importance are: milk, potatoes, peanut butter, baby food, ketchup, cotton, apples, beef, soy and corn.
  • Buy in bulk or start a buying club: Start a club with two or three other families, buy in bulk directly from wholesalers, divide the purchases and save money.

Also consider individual items such as:

Fruits and Vegetables: Take advantage of on-sale items on seasonal fruits. Fresh fruits and vegetables offer vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which can be frozen.

Proteins: You can find protein products in inexpensive forms such as: eggs, beans, yoghurts etc. when purchasing meats, make sure to purchase the high quality cuts and practice portion control, not only will you save but you can stretch your meat over more than one meal.

Whole Grains: If you’re buying breads and rolls on a budget it’s best to freeze extras as it can be safely frozen until ready to use.

In conclusion

Converting to a healthier lifestyle doesn’t necessarily mean that the items in your shopping trolley will become more expensive, it just takes a bit of extra time and meal planning.

Byrne concludes: “There is no single eating plan to suit everyone, and it’s important to find an eating plan that suits your lifestyle, so that it can become a habit for life. Healthy eating should be practical, affordable and delicious.”