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Think eating well to lose weight is too expensive? Think again

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Updated: 1/17/2013 10:06 am

When a salad costs $10 and you can pick up a fast food meal for around $5, where do you spend your money? Many people opt for the latter choice. Often the same thing happens when it comes to dieting. 

In these tough economic times, people feel like it's a luxury to go on a well-known regimen and they view it as an extra cost above and beyond their weekly grocery bills. Turns out, both are misconceptions - losing weight is often a necessity if you want to keep your long-term health care costs in check, and even highly acclaimed programs like Nutrisystem can actually offset your grocery store bill and save, versus cost, you money. Turns out, it is possible to eat well - and lose weight - without spending a bundle.

Here's how the math breaks down: From following a meal plan like Nutrisystem that provides you with four meals a day for as low as $8 a day and allows you to simultaneously trim your grocery store spending, to choosing less expensive, healthful foods like frozen (versus fresh) fruits and vegetables, smart buying decisions can help you lose weight and save money at the same time.

Here are some ideas for how you can eat well and lose weight for less:

1.) Beat the drought price-hike: Prices in the produce aisle can be daunting, and with this year's drought affecting crop production throughout the country, you may be looking for a way to avoid even higher vegetable prices next year. Look for lower-cost substitutions like frozen or canned veggies and fruits. While you'll need to watch the sodium content in canned options, these lower-cost veggies can offer great nutritional value. If you love salads, buy your greens in bulk rather than from the salad bar. Make your own protein shakes at home, rather than purchase bottled. Better yet - replace costly soft drinks and sugary juices with plain, old, virtually free tap water.

2.) Let someone else do the shopping: Portion control is an important part of any weight loss program, but you don't have to spend a bundle to eat just the right amount. Nutrisystem allows participants to eat for as little as $8 a day - that's roughly the price of two calorie-laden specialty beverages from a major coffee shop chain. The program fits well into busy lifestyles, with great-tasting food conveniently delivered to your doorstep. Worries of menu planning and portion control are taken care of for you. And there's an added bonus: some health insurance plans will cover the cost of the program. Check with yours to find out.

3.) Add ethnic seasonings and spices: One reason we eat foods that are bad for us is that they taste so very good. Just because food is healthful, however, doesn't mean it has to lack flavor and appeal. Many Asian cuisines are inherently light but still offer vivid flavors because of their creative use of seasonings. Adding seasonings and spices to your diet plan enhances flavors without adding fat or calories. Fortunately, it's now easy to find a variety of great ethnic seasonings in your local grocery store. 

4.) Pack a protein punch: Choose foods that provide the most nutritional punch for the money, such as eggs and skim milk (high in protein), greens like kale, dried chickpeas or lentils, and peanuts or almonds in the shell (great, protein-rich option for snacks or in salads). These foods are high in nutritional value yet lower in calories, meaning you can eat more of them - if that's what you need in order to feel full. Plus, indulging in these high-powered foods will help ensure you get your recommended daily values of important nutrients and vitamins.

5.) Exercise anywhere with anyone: Daily physical activity is a must, but the gym can be costly - not to mention dull if running in place for an hour isn't your thing. Dieting and exercising with a friend or colleague is a great, low-cost way to lose weight and improve your health. A daily morning jog or brisk walk with a friend will be much more enjoyable and just as effective as a high-priced workout at the gym. Or, if you love the gym and don't want to give it up, ask about two-for-one specials that might allow you and a friend to join together and pay less.

To learn more about Nutrisystem, please visit www.nutrisystem.com/success4u or by calling 1-888-841-2572.

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