As a nation, our waistlines continue to grow right along with the fad diet industry. According to Marketdata, the average American fad dieter goes on about four expensive, ineffective diets a year. Afterward, usually the only thing to have shrunk is the bank account. But it is possible to lose weight and to save money, too. How? By not succumbing to fads and making healthier, smarter choices.
Ingest less, invest less
Buy less food, eat less food. You lose weight and it costs you less. Easier said than done, right? Right. Healthy eating takes conscious effort and diligence, like most worthwhile things in life.
But here is one trick that can help. When you go out to eat, ask for a to-go box up front. Before you start eating, put half of that meal in the box. That is tomorrow’s lunch. You’ve now split the calories and the cost between two meals.
It’s almost always cheaper to eat at home, and you can control what ingredients go into your meals. If you don’t know much about cooking or nutrition, there are tons of books, websites and television shows that can help.
If you want to get really thrifty, you can make large amounts of healthy foods and freeze them in meal-sized portions. It requires discipline to not cheat, with tomorrow’s tempting meal already prepared and accessible. If that might be too much for you, making one meal at a time is still preferable to running out for fast food.
Knock off nocturnal nosh
Stop snacking at night. It makes you wider and your wallet thinner. Snack foods not only are full of empty calories, they are also generally more expensive than raw healthy foods. If you must eat after your evening meal, chose a food that is low calorie, low fat and low cost.
Lower that co-pay
According to the website eHealthInsurance, overweight people who drop to industry-accepted standards for their height and age save from $21 to $57 a month in insurance costs. And bonus, you just may see the doctor a whole lot less, cutting way down on future healthcare expenses.
Working on it
It may not be right, but heavier people have a harder time getting hired than thin people. And they tend to make less money. That is especially true for women.
Barbara O’Neill, a professor at Rutgers University and co-author of “Small Steps to Health and Wealth,” said:
“Especially in a tough economy, all things being equal, employers will probably not hire an overweight or obese person over others because of the risk of future health care costs. Studies have found that discrimination based on weight in the work place is more prevalent for women than men, especially white women in professional occupations.”
Keep at it
These are just a few tips to get you started. There are a million other ways to cut calories and costs simultaneously. Take a healthy bag lunch to work instead of going out. Walk to work if possible. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
The real trick is to keep working at it, and to stay far, far away from expensive and ineffective fad diets.