A healthy and cheap diet plan

Written by regan hennessy
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A healthy and cheap diet plan
Beans provide an inexpensive yet healthy protein source. (Monkey Business Images Ltd/Valueline/Getty Images)

Many people wanting to live a healthier lifestyle hit a snag in the form of their food budget. Learning how to design a healthy diet plan without breaking the bank is an essential skill that can pay huge dividends in the form of fewer medical problems. Find out some facts about designing a healthy, cheap diet plan, for example, what to include, what to exclude and what to watch out for on your path to a healthier lifestyle.

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Identification

A well-balanced diet gives your body the energy and nutrition it needs to stay healthy. Consuming a variety of foods from each of the main food groups -- dairy products, meat and beans, fruits, vegetables and grains -- every day helps you meet your nutritional needs without providing excess amounts of any specific nutrients. As a rule, limiting your daily intake of saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and processed foods high in salt or sugar can help cut down on excessive spending while enhancing your health.

Types

Breakfast cereals, meat products and drinks are major budget-busters when it comes to healthy, affordable eating habits. Being familiar with inexpensive alternatives can save money while improving your health. Before you reach for that box of expensive whole-grain cereal, consider the benefits of oats. Laden with soluble fibre, oats are notoriously inexpensive and provide a hearty dose of whole grains without adding a lot of calories or fat to your diet. Instead of having a hamburger for lunch, opt for a budget-friendly bean salad. According to the U.S. Dry Bean Council, beans are a fat-free and cholesterol-free protein source that is also rich in fibre, folate and antioxidants. And when it comes to hydration, beverages like cola and alcohol can’t compete with water. Not only is water free, but it also plays an essential role in promoting your health by carrying nutrients to your body’s cells.

Time Frame

Maximise your chances of successfully following your cheap, healthy diet plan by being proactive. Chef Susan Irby, author of a frugal cookbook, suggests planning your meals to help keep yourself on target with healthy, inexpensive eating. Sit down once weekly to work out your menu. Try to be as detailed as possible with each meal, and make sure you include an assortment of foods from the different food groups.

Considerations

While eating out provides a nice break from the humdrum of day-to-day cooking at home, it can also wreck both your budget and your waistline. Eat out, but do so wisely. As a rule, limit your restaurant visits to once every two or four weeks. When you go out on the town, watch your portion sizes. Think about ordering an appetiser as your main meal. If you decide to splurge on a full-sized main course, consider saving half of it to take home, so you can enjoy it another day as a main meal.

Effects

Never skip meals in an attempt to lose weight or save money. Not only does it slow down your metabolism -- ultimately making weight loss more difficult -- but it could also set your body up for potential health problems by limiting your nutritional intake. Maximise the effects of your healthy, inexpensive diet by making an extra effort to include exercise in your daily routine. As little as 30 minutes of aerobic activity each day, such as walking or jogging, can help you lose weight and improve muscle tone, as well as prevent conditions like cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association.

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