Success without Eating "Healthy" Foods?

Hey everyone!

I've been using MFP off and on a couple years, and this time around over the summer I've had a very great start. Even when not tracking every single day, I'm seeing progress weight wise, and even more importantly with my mental health and energy levels. I started at 200lbs, depending on the day I'm at ~187 lbs now. I've been in a plateau for about a month, but goal weight is between 145 - 155lbs or so (contingent on how I look in the mirror and where my strength training is at when I get close. I don't have a firm set number I need to be at.)

Trouble is, getting high protein foods is becoming too expensive, and due to some health concerns and a possible upcoming surgery, my budget is going to halve in the next few months... so I'm going to be on a rice and beans diet just about, with no real choice.

Vegetables are incredibly expensive in my area, almost as much as meat, and canned veggies have so much sodium that I try to avoid those whenever possible. I've done what couponing and planning I can, but I know that it's going to be boxed/frozen/dried ingredients for at least a few months without much choice on my end.


Rather than looking for food or couponing or whatever for advice (I've already done all that so don't need more) I wanted to know if anyone has had success just sticking to their workout plans without making "healthy" food choices? What specific workout pattern or routine helped you to do this?

Staying in deficit is not hard for me... most days I'm actually not eating enough unless I plan really carefully (go Depression! sigh) so it's not so much of staying in a deficit I'm concerned with as the fact that I'll be having less high protein meals as before and going higher starch.

So appreciative of any advice you can give to help with this!

Replies

  • sollyn23l2
    sollyn23l2 Posts: 1,455 Member
    You can absolutely do it. Same rules apply, at it's core, weight loss is about calories, so just keep tracking and staying under your calorie allotment. Worry about the food quality when you eventually can again.
  • kshama2001
    kshama2001 Posts: 27,755 Member
    Normally when people say "unhealthy" foods, they mean ultra-processed/convenience foods, but that's not what you mean, right? You are talking dry beans you cook from scratch? I'd argue that is very healthy! Sounds like you are referring more to the lack of produce and high protein?

    Rice & beans are a low income staple in many countries around the world. I cooked lunch in a yoga retreat startup in Costa Rica where we served rice & beans twice per day. I can do a lot with rice & beans :lol: I'm sure you know about getting spices from dollar stores, yes?

    At this yoga center startup, we had chicken about every two weeks and eggs sporadically. I got the sense our neighbors ate similarly low animal protein. (Since this was the sub tropics, fruit and veggies were plentiful.)

    I think you'll be fine and wish you the best :smiley:

    I do have some additional thoughts:

    Since you mentioned vegetables are scarce, I'm picturing you up in Canada or Alaska. I'm south of Boston. Around here there are lots of food pantries. My library even has one. I used to volunteer to do food donations pick up for the senior center. Churches have food pantries. I see people giving away food in my town's FaceBook group. I just gave away some spices through this group earlier today. (For some reason, I can no longer tolerate clove.)

    Oh! See if Lasagna Love serves your area. I used them after my surgery last year. It was great! https://lasagnalove.org/

    Speaking of surgery, the social worker at the hospital where I had my surgery was very helpful for a different issue, and might have some resources for you.

    If you are in the US, and qualify for SNAP, I encourage you to apply. https://www.benefits.gov/benefit/361
  • Corina1143
    Corina1143 Posts: 2,663 Member
    After my surgery I did a whole lot of Subway. While that's not what you're talking about, it's not the perfect diet. I don't think it hurt me a bit. I didn't want to lose weight. I wanted to feed my body well so it could heal. Time to lose in a few months.
  • COGypsy
    COGypsy Posts: 1,128 Member
    Frozen food isn't inherently unhealthy. I don't cook, so the freezer and the microwave are my best friends. I keep different bags of frozen vegetables on hand. Plain vegetables are the cheapest and can be combined however you want them. Rice can be batch cooked and frozen in individual portions. For protein I use frozen grilled chicken, or soybeans, or eggs. I get frozen shrimp or meatballs if they're on sale. Pile it all into a bowl with some kind of spices or sauce and microwave for a few minutes. Probably my cheapest meal is ramen noodles with soybeans and an egg on top. I add about half a bag of frozen stir fry vegetables if I have some handy. I use a couple of tablespoons of stir fry sauce from a bottle instead of the bouillon packets so it's not so salty, but doesn't have the soup consistency.
  • kshama2001
    kshama2001 Posts: 27,755 Member
    Yes, I have frozen fruit and veggies in the freezer at all times. For fruit, I did a ton of price comparisons across stores because the prices and availability kept changing >.<

    The big bag of strawberries from Market Basket comes to $2/pound.
  • spiriteagle99
    spiriteagle99 Posts: 3,655 Member
    Where you can, buy in bulk and buy sale items. Our grocery will have sales on 3-5 lbs of chicken at $.99-2.99 a pound. Pork roast is often cheap. Eggs are cheap now. Buy the large family sized frozen vegetables. They don't have added salt and can be inexpensive. Make soups or stews.
  • BZAH10
    BZAH10 Posts: 5,696 Member
    I don't know your location, but I'm in the US and I can buy a CASE (12 cans each) of no-salt-added corn and green beans for $5 each. Or, if you can only buy canned vegetables with salt, then just rinse them first.

    Frozen bagged vegetables are also cheap, if you get ones with JUST vegetables. Some have flavor additives or are in the steam-able bags. As always, reading labels is important.
  • Corina1143
    Corina1143 Posts: 2,663 Member
    BZAH10 wrote: »
    I don't know your location, but I'm in the US and I can buy a CASE (12 cans each) of no-salt-added corn and green beans for $5 each. Or, if you can only buy canned vegetables with salt, then just rinse them first.

    Frozen bagged vegetables are also cheap, if you get ones with JUST vegetables. Some have flavor additives or are in the steam-able bags. As always, reading labels is important.

    Where do you find green beans at that price? Canned green beans are to me what chips are to most people. Snack while watching TV, side for a sandwich, etc.
  • BZAH10
    BZAH10 Posts: 5,696 Member
    Corina1143 wrote: »
    BZAH10 wrote: »
    I don't know your location, but I'm in the US and I can buy a CASE (12 cans each) of no-salt-added corn and green beans for $5 each. Or, if you can only buy canned vegetables with salt, then just rinse them first.

    Frozen bagged vegetables are also cheap, if you get ones with JUST vegetables. Some have flavor additives or are in the steam-able bags. As always, reading labels is important.

    Where do you find green beans at that price? Canned green beans are to me what chips are to most people. Snack while watching TV, side for a sandwich, etc.

    I order my groceries on Walmart.com and do curbside pick up and that's where I'm able to get them.
  • Corina1143
    Corina1143 Posts: 2,663 Member
    Cheap AND easy. My kind of shopping!
  • nossmf
    nossmf Posts: 8,446 Member
    I admit, I opened this thread thinking about talking how I lost 60 pounds while still eating weekly pizza and burgers along with a daily dessert, but that's not what you're talking about. Ok, change gears...

    Canned veggies often come in "no salt added" versions. Same for canned meats (chicken, roast beef, tuna, etc), just get the ones packed in water not oil to save on calories.

    Buying meats often varies dramatically in price depending on which cut you get...chicken thighs are less than chicken breasts, etc. The "hand trimmed" versions are more expensive, and if you get the entire bird rather than just pieces you can often get a lower price per pound.

    If you want to avoid sodium, ramen can be your enemy, buyer beware!
  • springlering62
    springlering62 Posts: 7,252 Member
    edited November 2023
    Have you checked any of the local ethnic markets? We have several around us that cater to Latin American, Asian, African. They are very heavily fresh vegetable oriented and have some great deals. Most have a name that includes “International Market” or some such.

    It’s not the sleek and surgically clean “Publix” mega-store shopping experience.I even find some of them intimidating, because of the variety and unfamiliarity of a lot of it, and the crowds, and people whipping around setting out new cases of veg, but dang the prices are good.

    We also have Lidl and Aldi in our area. Both have a good selection and great prices- sometimes half of what the Kroger on the next block costs.
  • SafariGalNYC
    SafariGalNYC Posts: 733 Member
    edited November 2023
    @Viridian1539

    You can lose weight as long as your calories are in deficit. What is your protein goal?

    Unsure where you are located: If you are interested in finding deals on less processed food options.. what about a Costco or buying in bulk and freezing? Frozen vegetables are great for less sodium. What about ordering staples and dry goods online? Amazon?

    Protein: Sometimes its cheaper buying a whole chicken and cutting up.
    I often see sales on: Peanut butter &
    Canned tuna … both can be shipped.

  • Granted I was in my late teens/early 20s so weight loss was somewhat easier, but I was able to go from 190-130 lbs while growing up in severe poverty with tons of rice/bean dishes and processed foods and little "healthy" foods available to me.

    Personally I've never been able to loose weight on diet alone. The only thing that works is daily movement, lots of water, good sleep and intentional eating where I cut out excess. I can eat the cleanest, most nutrient packed diet in the world and never loose weight unless I move my body and cut down on portion sizes. It doesn't matter what I eat and though I do try to eat well 50% of the time, I've lost a dress size this month eating pizza, carbs and "junk" 50% the rest of the time just by moving daily and eating 3/4 of what I used to eat each meal.

    Also: rice has protein and can be nutrient packed depending on the grain. Beans are excellent as well. FROZEN FRUITS/VEGGIES are superior to canned (even more than most "fresh" veggies at the avg. grocery) as they're picked at peak nutrition and immediately frozen vs loosing nutrients each day in transport from farm to store the way "fresh" veggies loose + usually can be found in bigger portions than canned for only a few cents more. Greens can easily be grown in an indoor garden for salads over winter. And though it may be a splurge initially, you can find a big container of protein powder for $20ish bucks at most stores that will last you weeks vs the $20 for a pack of steaks that will last 1-2 meals.

    With a little creativity and focus on the amount of food you're eating + movement, you really can loose weight with whatever foods you can afford to eat.

    You got this! Good luck!
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 41,879 Member
    I personally don't consider beans and rice to be "unhealthy" in the least. They are a staple of cultures all across the world. That said, if that's the only thing you're eating you'd likely find yourself malnourished in regards to overall micro-nutrition (vitamins, minerals, etc).

    Once upon a time, I was pretty broke and rice and beans were definitely a staple as were bean soups. My animal protein mostly consisted of chicken...either whole chickens or parts like legs and thighs or sometimes cut up fryers...I could often find these on sale as well since they seemed not to sell as fast as the boneless/skinless breasts and whatnot. It was far cheaper than indulging in boneless and skinless for which you're paying extra for someone else to do that process.

    My veg was pretty basic...for fresh it was typically cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli which I could usually get pretty cheap. I didn't really indulge in what I considered more "fancy" vegetables like asparagus, squash varieties, etc. Frozen peas were also in regular rotation and cheap.

    I've never been a huge fruit person, but mostly I stuck with the basics...apples, oranges, and bananas...but like I said, not a huge fruit eater so whatever that cost, it was pretty nominal to have an apple or something once or twice per week.