Avoid a Nutrition Recession and Save Money on Groceries

Grocery shopping can be such a pain. We have more choices than ever before. My friend told me she was “overwhelmed” by the eggs at a recent shopping trip – eggs! Evidently, there are too many varieties (whole grain, omega-3, cage-free, etc.).

We’d also like to keep food costs down, which is not always easy, but increasingly important in this economy. But I worry that the economic recession is going to drive well-meaning people into a nutrition recession, too. Don’t let this happen to you. It is possible to save money on your grocery bill without sacrificing nutrition and I’m going to tell you how in this video.



  • Put fresh produce first. In-season fruits and vegetables are inexpensive and they have the best nutrition for the calories. Think of all the different ways you can enjoy the bounty of the season. Summer vegetable soup (corn, zucchini, onion, tomatoes, black beans, and vegetable stock) or try grilled peaches for a healthy dessert. Ice cream novelties are $1 a piece, but you can get fresh fruit for less than 20 cents – now, which is the bargain?
  • Save money on protein purchases. Canned tuna is a lean, healthy protein you can often find on sale. Use tuna in lunch sandwiches or salads. Beans are a very inexpensive food and they are a great source of protein. I buy black beans, chick peas (garbanzo), kidney beans, and white beans at every trip. I keep rinsed beans in the fridge for salad and wrap toppers. I also look for frozen seafood like shrimp and salmon fillets. You can stretch out your protein by making it the “side dish” in a meal – salad toppers or mixed in with rice and veggies.
  • Buy in bulk. If there is a special deal on large portions of healthy foods, stock up! For example, a sale on grape tomatoes can have you putting garden salad starters and fresh tomato basil pasta dinners on the menu. Grape tomatoes also make a great snack. So don’t hesitate to take advantage of the larger portions of healthy foods. Just make sure you don’t waste it.

What money-saving grocery shopping tips work for you?

Figuring Out Your Calorie Needs

I have to say as a dietitian, I don’t like focusing on “how many calories do I need?” with my clients. I think there’s a certain value in knowing what you need for daily activities and exercise and determining how many calories you should cut to lose weight.

However, my clients have been very successful with losing weight with behavioral changes that don’t involve counting calories. In this post, I’ll give you a few tips for calculating your calorie needs (because I know you want to know) and I will give you a few suggestions that have really helped my clients drop a few pounds without needing a calculator and a math degree.

Grams Per Kilogram
A rough estimate is to figure out your weight in kilograms (body weight in pounds / 2.2) and then multiply it by a range (25 – 35). So a 175-pound (79.5 kg) person needs about 2,000 – 2,800 calories per day, plus calories for daily activity.

Simple Equation
Weight in pounds X 10 + (50% of the sum). So a 175 pound person needs:
175 X 10 = 1700 + (1700/2) = about 2,600 calories, plus calories for daily activity.

There are several other ways of “calculating” calorie needs. But as you can tell from these examples, there are variations and it can make anyone confused, especially if you are trying to find “perfection”. Dietitians can help get an accurate estimate in a nutrition assessment after screening for your current lifestyle and exercise activities.

One tool I can recommend is from MyPyramid.Gov. You can use the website to maintain and lose weight, and also to plan and track meals very easily. I think you can learn a lot about your eating habits, including how much added sugars you are getting in your eating plan by recording your behaviors on this website for a week.

Not into numbers? No problem. My clients have found the most weight loss success with some of these important changes.

•    Eating during the day, and starting the “diet” late afternoon.
•    Mindful eating
•    Having meals off of smaller plates
•    Making half of all meals veggies
•    Eating one meal a week outside the home
•    Increasing exercise and calories (yep, many people cut too low and the body refuses to lose weight)

I will blog about these in the future because there’s a lot more to explore than what I can do in just one post.

Overcome the Guilt of Overeating

I’m sure nearly everyone trying to manage their weight feels guilty when they overeat. There’s a reason they call it “stuffed.” It doesn’t feel good being bloated, especially after some time of eating reasonable portions and re-training the stomach to understand what a comfortable, full feels like.

My mom had a magnet on our refrigerator that said “a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips!” Of course, there was a picture of a pig eating a piece of coconut cream pie on it. (Lest you think I come from a family of skinny-minnies, quite the contrary. Most adult women in my family weigh in the 200-300 pound range).

As a nutrition expert who works with emotional eating, eating disorders, and weight management I honestly think that magnet should say “a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the mind.” While it doesn’t rhyme as well, I do think it is the true damage of overeating. The guilt people can carry can overwhelmingly sabotage any progress toward mindful, healthy eating.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though. I’ve got a few tips that will help you better deal with it:

  • Don’t feel guilty about wanting to eat. Food is necessary for your survival, and it was intended to be an enjoyable experience, not a guilt ridden one. If you think about food often, don’t beat yourself up. With the abundance of cheap food widely available it is no wonder food is on the brain. Remind yourself that guilt can reverse your positive progress.
  • Expect the “overeating relapse.” Nobody is perfect – good thing or life would be boring! Don’t encourage a “relapse” every time you pass the fast food joint or the junk food aisle. But trust me, you will have a time when your life feels “out of sorts” or particularly stressful. You’ll probably overeat. The best thing you can do is learn from it. If the food didn’t cause the problem, it won’t solve it either. What did you really need? To feel good? Maybe next time, a conversation or a hug will do the trick without the extreme guilt that follows overeating.
  • Don’t let “triggers” control you. Triggers are things in your physical or emotional environment that make you want to overeat. They can be particular foods, feelings, or events. Common triggers include parties revolving around food, feeling depressed, bored or frustrated, loneliness, or having a bad day. How will you positively deal with triggers when they come your way? I advise my clients to avoid “food triggers” for a few weeks; eventually, the temptation fades. For some clients, the opposite works. I tell them to eat their “trigger” every day. Sooner or later, they get sick of it once the allure is gone.
  • Focus on the positive. Rather than making statements such as, “I’m useless at…” or “I’ll never be able to…” change your focus to something more encouraging. What have you done that is working for you? What is positive? If you hit a weight loss plateau, how much have you lost in total? How many exercise calories did you burn this week? How many nights did you get enough sleep?

Thinking About HCG Diet? Look Elsewhere for Weight Loss

You won’t see me promoting quick fixes or fad diets anytime soon. But every once in awhile something comes along that seems so dangerous I have to call it out. That’s why I’m going to help reveal the truth behind the HCG diet.hcg injections

What it is: HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is a hormone produced during pregnancy by the cells that form the placenta. This hormone is detected in the blood around 11 days after conception; it is detected in the urine around 12-14 days after conception. While it is most commonly associated with pregnancy, it is present in both genders.

What it does in the body: HCG signals the hypothalamus (area of the brain that affects metabolism) to mobilize fat stores. In pregnancy, this helps the body bring nutrients into the placenta, fueling the fetus with the energy to grow.

The weight loss claim: The HCG diet (using daily hcg injections) will help you lose 1-3 pounds per day.  The HCG-diet combines the daily injections with a very low-calorie diet (500 calories per day).

500-calories per day is severely restrictive! In fact, it is not enough calories to support normal brain function. Your body will compensate by using stores of glycogen, protein (muscle) and some fat, which lowers your resting metabolism. Before you can lose true weight, you will be so irritable, lightheaded, and cranky that you’ll reach for whatever food you can get your hands on and have a field day.

Scientific evidence: There is no scientific evidence supporting HCG injections as a weight loss strategy. In addition, these injections have not been approved by the FDA for use in weight loss. In fact, since 1975 the FDA has required all marketing and advertising of HCG to state the following: “HCG has not been demonstrated to be effective adjunctive therapy in the treatment of obesity. There is no substantial evidence that it increases weight loss beyond that resulting from caloric restriction, that it causes a more attractive or ‘normal’ distribution of fat, or that it decreases the hunger and discomfort associated with calorie-restricted diets.”

“HCG is a hormone extracted from urine of pregnant women. It is approved by FDA for treatment of certain problems of the male reproductive system and in stimulating ovulation in women who have had difficulty becoming pregnant. No evidence has been presented, however, to substantiate claims for HCG as a weight-loss aid.” via the FDA

HCG ban: The hormone was recently added to the list of “banned substances” in Major League Baseball, as it was becoming increasingly popular among steroid users. Athletes turned to this, among other “performance enhancing drugs” because it “mitigates the side effects of ending a cycle of steroids.”

Negative side effects: The common side effects include headaches, mood swings, depression, blood clots, confusion, and dizziness. Some women also develop a condition called Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS); symptoms of this include pelvic pain, swelling of the hands and legs, stomach pain, weight gain, shortness of breath, diarrhea, vomiting/nausea, and/or urinating less than normal.

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Weight loss is hard work and it won’t come in a potion, pill, or injection. The most “dangerous” thing you should be doing to your body is trying a new exercise that intimidates you like rock climbing or completing a marathon.


Banned in MLB
HCG Side Effects
CalorieLab : “Weight loss is hard, and human pregnancy hormone won’t change that”
Associated Content : “HCG Marketed by convicted fraud, Kevin Trudeau”
Diet Scam Watch : “HCG Worthless as a weight-loss aid”

If you want long-term success, check out programs that have stood the test of time like Weight Watchers or the meal delivery systems like Nutrisystem or Jenny Craig. At least these programs don’t have you taking expensive drugs.

Of course, I strongly promote visiting with a registered dietitian who can evaluate your current eating behaviors and help you work toward long-term behavior change and weight loss that sticks! Most of my clients lose 30 pounds eating foods they love. It starts with some basic knowledge of nutrients and energy balance and then progresses to increasing your awareness about your personal barriers to eating healthy and how to overcome them. You have the ability to achieve the weight and the life you deserve and you don’t need pills and potions to do it.