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Cutting food costs while building health

January 3rd, 2008 at 01:47 am

In line with my joint emphasis on saving, especially on food, while also trying to lose weight, I've started the year off with a detox diet--based mostly on Cathy Wong's "Inside Out Diet" (I also read Mark Hyman's "Ultrasimple Diet" and Roizen & Oz's "You Getting Younger" in preparation for this. )

The goal is to eat both more healthily AND to eat less. (Also to exercise more--but that's a lot easier for me than cutting down on the calories.)

I spent a week before starting my food plan getting mostly off of caffeine--which meant feeling sleepy for a week (headachey for one day). I'm not completely off of caffeine, as it does have some health benefits, but I did switch from 5-6 cups of coffee to day to drinking a variety of teas (white, green, red, herbal, and yerba maté for when I need a bit of a caffeine kick). I'm sure that I'm drinking only a quarter of the caffeine that I was.

I started following the plan I worked out for myself on the 30th, so I've just about completed 4 days now. Weight loss as of this morning was 4.2 pounds. I know that's mostly water weight, but the best thing is that so far I've managed to consistently eat about 700 calories/day less than I have been eating without feeling hungry. And that's what I need to be able to do over the long haul in order to lose the weight.

Right now I'm focusing more on the food side than the financial side of this, but I do believe that I'll ultimately save money on food if I can keep eating this way--mostly because I typically spend so much money on eating grab-and-go food from convenience stores and sub shops.

One thing that I've found that helps is that I've been snacking on dehydrated vegetables--a company called "Just Tomatoes" puts out containers of various sizes and they're easy to eat like popcorn. First I bought a 4 oz container, then when I finished that in 3 days, I bought a pound. Next time I'll buy in bulk to reduce the cost. I've also been looking at alternate companies that produce dehydrated food for storage (I remember reading a lot about this back in the days of Y2K fears). I'll probably order a sampler pack from Walton Feed to compare the quality, since their food is cheaper (but they emphasize using their food rehydrated, not using it to snack on in the dehydrated form, so I don't know if it'll be as good eating it dry.

Other than eating lots of veggies, I'm eating fruit, brown rice, quinoa, and oatmeal, beans, tofu, eggs, and fish, and allowing myself the use of extra virgin olive oil as my primary fat (also raw nuts & seeds and avocado). I've allowed myself the use of an artificial sweetener, but minimally (just with morning oatmeal). I'll probably add kefir in in a few days since I typically drink it daily for its probiotic benefit.
I'm also taking fish oil capsules for the omega-3s.

So there have been some startup costs to switching to eating this way (eg the fish oil capsules, the variety of teas, etc) but that's still within my typical food budget costs since I haven't eaten out at all.

The general premise behind the diet I'm following (bringing together info from Hyman and Wong here) is that our livers are overtaxed by the increasing burden of pesticides as well as consuming too many refined carbs or not enough carbs and too much of the wrong kind of fat. When you start dieting, toxins stored in fat are released, taxing the liver further. So the idea is that you start a diet by eating to provide liver support. The liver plays a role in blood sugar control and in digestion of fats, so having it function optimally decreases your hunger even as you cut back on food. Then when you start adding foods back in, you test for food intolerances/allergies, since these increase inflammation, which in turn leads to increased propensity for obesity.

From my perspective, the most important thing is that I've not been feeling hungry, which is the reason why I've had such problems losing weight in the past. If I can continue not to feel hungry at a 500-700 calorie/day deficit, the weight will come off. And that will have all kinds of benefits, both physical and financial. I know that if I get even just 20 pounds off (I've stated 33 in my goal, but really, I could stand to lose 60), the arthritis pains and heartburn I've been experiencing will decrease, and my risk of all kinds of chronic illnesses will decrease.

5 Responses to “Cutting food costs while building health”

  1. PauletteGoddard Says:

    This is exactly the post I would have made if I were brave enough. I have read Paul Bragg's "Miracle of Fasting" book and sure enough, by not eating once a week you can shave 15% off my food bill. I've not been brave enough to wake up without caffeine, but I have cut my coffee intake, and I take cod liver oil. I work toward an eventual 50% food intake of raw dairy, meat, fruits and vegetables.

  2. luxliving Says:

    Interesting post and some good hints. Can you be more specific on what you're doing to support the liver specifically?

    Count me in, I, too, am a cod liver oil gal. Ughh. I do the cherry or orange flavored kind as I'm a big sissy, but I figured if it worked for the Delaney sisters (sisters who lived past 100), it could work for me! Those birds were tough (in a good way) ol' gals, and I want to be one too!

  3. Dido Says:

    Liver support: one portion/day of whey protein powder. One serving/day of purple/red fruit or veg, two of green/yellow/orange fruit or veg, one of a member of the onion family, one cruciferous veg. Meat/poultry should be organic (that's costly so I'm just avoiding it); fish should be wild salmon (canned is cheap; I just wish I liked it) or a small, nonpredatory fish (I'm eating tilapia).

    For more details about how and why, see Cathy Wong's book--she has a website for the book at

  4. Dido Says:

    Also Michaal Pollan wrote a very informative piece in the New York Times last year called "Unhappy Meals." NPR interviewed him about it on New Years morning. (I think this is the short version of his latest book, "In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto.") He summarizes his food advice in 7 words: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." (And in the interview, he also suggested preferring "leaves" to "seeds," that is, veggies to grains.) You can read the 12-page NYTimes article at

  5. luxliving Says:

    Thanks Dido, I'll check those links out.

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