The Tough Economic Times Diet

by in Diet Tips, Diets, Fruits and Veggies, Kitchen Cost Cutters, Kitchen Sink, Unfulfilled Consumerism, Weight Loss, Whole Foods Diet December 5, 2009

PhotobucketBy Dr. Nicole Sundene

Jay Leno joked last night that “the economy was so bad that women in LA had to resort to diet and exercise to look good.”

I couldn’t help but chuckle at that one.  Because the REAL dark irony is that a whole food diet and lifestyle will help you look a million times better than anyone botoxed or pumped full of collagen. Trust me, I assisted the dermatologist back in the day.

During these Tough Economic Times (TET) times we can at least laugh because laughter is still free AND it burns calories.

Despite the “Obesity Tax,” politicians have yet to tax us for laughter.  Perhaps I shouldn’t give them any ideas!

Feel free to leave your frugal “TET Diet” tip in the comments section.

As with everything, going with the flow seems to be the most logical cure for this economic crisis.

As we learn to move away from “Unfulfilled Consumerism” and make choices that are healthier for the environment as well as our pocketbooks, we can certainly remind ourselves of some great dieting tips brought on by these “tough economic times.”

Weight Loss Tips We can Learn from these Tough Economic Times:

1.  Drink a cozy warm mug of water in lieu of your expensive latte.  Warm water gives your intestines a bath, aids elimination, while still making you feel like you have a warm drink to comfort you during the traumatic morning time (well for me).  For more detox on the cheap just add a squeeze of fresh lemon.

2.  Eat less. Yes! I am guessing that since 1/3 of America is obese and many of us are overweight that we can just eat less. I love the Swedish Proverb, ““Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours.”

Maybe it is just because I am Swedish, or maybe it’s because it’s great advice.  But longevity studies indicate that the less we eat (within reason) the longer we live.  Never starve yourself as that slows your metabolism down.  Instead try eating five small meals a day.  Focus on whole foods and simply stop  bit before you actually feel full (more on this later).

3.  Chew chew chew your food! If we are eating less we need to be chewing more so that we can spend our time eating and not feeling like we are deprived because we are eating less. Spend the same amount of time eating less food. It works.

4.  Take a break. Everyone needs a break, especially your poor stomach. At the beginning of your meal, visually or physically divide your plate in half.  When you reach that half way point, take a little break.  Let your body digest for a few minutes, it takes about twenty minutes to register that we are even full so give yourself some time to ENJOY your food, and you may as a result spend less time eating.  That is more leftovers for later, remember “The Doggie Bag” is the hot new trend of 2009.

5.  Share your food. Not only will you look cool while you feel generous, but you’ll be reminded of how much you actually have, while secretly saddling those around you with those unnecessary calories.  We all know that the easiest way to look thinner is to fatten up those around us *wink*

6.  Split your food. If you aren’t the sharing type then visually split your food in half and eat the next portion of it the next day. Restaurants have trained us to think that a normal portion size is over 2-3 times of what it truly is.

I try to make three meals out of every restaurant meal.  A habit I got in after waiting tables and throwing pounds and pounds of food away after clearing tables all day. It was such a waste!

It may not have been cool before to ask for that “to go” box, but it sure is now.  Set the example.  Take the doggie bag, and remember that you can also save money on kibble by feeding your dogs leftover meat, veggies, cottage cheese, yogurt (non-sweetened), potatoes, and rice.  Just don’t give them too many grains, bread, wheat, sweets, etc.

7.  Focus on disease prevention. Staying healthy and eating the basic boring whole foods diet is exactly what prevents disease, and it is cheap!

8.  Walk everywhere. I know gas prices are down but still, it is really fun to challenge yourself with basic exercise errands around your urban area.

9.  Find a walking buddy. If you live in suburbia and can’t challenge yourself with walking to your errands, find a walking buddy (aka free counseling.) Since no one can afford real counseling during these tough economic times, remember that nothing makes people vent their stress like a nice long walk. Walking means burning calories, and spending time that we could be wasting eating.

10. Make it a Gym Date, as Fitness Trainer Bonnie Pfiester reminds us. You will be a cool role model, and for just a ten dollar guest pass, you can keep your date busy for several hours.

11. Drink water and only water. If your only beverage of choice is filtered tap water you will save oodles on both your pocket book and waistline. We never want to drink our calories. Read “One Soda per Day Can Change Your Waistline.”

12. Stressed? That is great, try eating less instead of eating more. It is not normal for us to be “running from the proverbial bear” while we are trying to digest a double bacon cheeseburger, curly fries, and a chocolate shake.

Under stress, our digestive systems essentially shut down while blood and oxygen are shunted to our muscles and cardiovascular system. The more stressed you are, the more you will benefit from a nourishing diet eaten while you are calm and sitting down.  Try a few minutes of breathing exercises before your meal. Over-indulgence is not your friend during TET times.

13. Plant your own food. Spring is the time to start thinking about cheap food you can plant and grow to enjoy later.  I love planting zuchini, squash, potatoes, onions, garlic, and so forth because they are so simple to grow as I mentioned in my article “The Top Eleven Laziest Foods to Grow.” If you don’t want to grow your own, make your kids do it by “Planting an Organic Kids Garden,” and that teaching activity should help kids eat more veggies. Don’t forget to let some “Berries Run Wild” on your property.

14. Grow your own herbs. Do you need to take stock in the tons and tons of supplements you are paying top dollar for in your cupboards, when the herb growing season is about to start? Many healing plants chock full of the antioxidants you are paying top dollar for, literally grow like weeds in your back yard! If you don’t spray your yard with pesticides you can use rosemary, dandelion, stinging nettles, garlic…and if you aren’t sure what to do with an herb growing in your yard…just ask me! If you are stressed you can easily grow lemon balm and lavender as I mentioned in, “The Fifteen Most Fabulous Herbal Sedatives.”

15. Eat at the Kitchen Table! If you can afford to eat out, then by all means please go out and stimulate the economy.  But for everyone on the TET Diet, eating out is bad for our wallets and our waistlines.  When Photobucketwe eat out at poor quality cheap fast food, fried, fatty places we are likely causing disease and not preventing it.

You should at least be eating one meal a day at the kitchen table if not two.  Kitchen Table time is important family bonding time, improves posture, digestion, and saves us in both the long and short run.  If you can make three meals at the kitchen table a day then you get  gold star!

What is your TET Diet tip?

Dr. Nicole

Related Reading:
Best Weight Loss Diet 2008
The Best Long Term Weight Loss Plan

  1. I thought you said “spit” your food, which made sense, albeit a bit disgusting. Then I saw that it was “split” your food, which makes even better sense. Great list!


    Mike Foster’s last blog post..What’s Your Favorite Month?

  2. Use a whole organic chicken to make broth ( – which can be a CHEEEEAP base for just about any recipe – soup anyone?.

    Then use the “useable” chicken for chicken salads, enchiladas, or chicken soup – and save the parts you don’t want to eat for your doggie (just watch out for those bones).

  3. Erin Happycamper April 3, 2009 at 7:33 am Reply

    As a poor college student, I try to cook as much as I can as cheaply as I can. I can’t afford organic foods, but I still try to eliminate as much salt and high fructose corn syrup as I can. I make my own spaghetti sauce (for the price of 2 jars of manufactured I can yield 4-6!) and splurge on whole-grain pasta. I also buy the pre-made rotisserie birdies from the grocery store, and freeze the bones to make my own chicken-stock, instead of buying the salt-filled manufactured. Ground turkey is MUCH cheaper than ground beef, and is also much better for you.
    Estimated monthly savings: $50

    Awesome Ideas Doc, I will have to try to incorporate some of your ideas into my diet, too!

  4. Always keep in mind that moderation is not deprivation. Great article

  5. Obesity tax! Very funny and informative! 😀

    I especially like tips to grow your garden and plant herbs! I am not a digg member but I am definitely going to stumble this!! And adding your blog to my list of sites I frequent.

    Thank you Dr. Nicole Sundene – you rock and I may have the opportunity to post your link as Related Info in my future blog entries – with your blessings of course?

    kelly’s last blog post..qutequte: RT @winerecipesA lean and hungry look – Yale Daily News: My dad wasn’t much of a cook. He was an enthusiastic eater..

  6. Wonderful ideas … we should all take them to heart!

    Doctor Energizer

    Doctor Energizer’s last blog post..Doctor Energizer – Stay Healthy, Happy and Energized

  7. […] Here is the original post:  The Tough Economic Times Diet | Kitchen Table Medicine […]

  8. Fruit Diet…

    I am a Cuban- American. My family came to the U. S. A. in 1971 after the Castro regime’ s power increased. I have never thought it significant enough to ask my grandparents what they ate in Cuba. However, I live in Palos Verdes Estates, CA, U. S. A. …

  9. Meat Diet…

    At the risk of sounding like a (constant) whiny baby- I feel so very depressed, still. There are some things going on that are not at all related to diet & Weight and I just don’ t know hot to proceed with my life. I can go on and on and on (and I ha…

  10. really nice tips and perfect post 🙂 thanks for your share.

  11. This is a great post to discuss how the best choices for health and enjoyment are often the most inexpensive ones. Cooking you own food using fresh organic local food is not only better for you, but it also tastes better!

    To that idea, I think the addition of a Community Supporter Agriculture (CSA) to the list would be helpful. In these programs, consumers will partner with a farmer, buying a share crops for the entire year. So it becomes no hassle to pick up the farm fresh produce. You can find one near you at this website,

  12. ALL Diets…

    Many thanks for your comments, I do hope readers take the time with this recent outstanding paper by Dr Cannell et al- it does address the increasingly frequent problem that most physicians are writing for that easy D2 and not using the effective D3 fo…

  13. Thanks for all the comments! <3

  14. Over the last 18 month I was able to lose 20lbs and 4.5 inches around my waist just by reducing my carb intake, eat smaller portions, eat more often (healthy snacks), increase my protein intake (your body needs more calories to burn proteins than it needs to burn fat or carbs), spend at least 4 days at week at the gym for about 45 minutes each times and walk my dogs 3 miles every day (no matter whether rain or sunshine). I also went from 24% bodyfat to 19% bodyfat.
    I can tell I feel a lot better. You have to have self-discipline. The first 3 month were the toughest,since the low carb diet gave me gravings for sweets and fast foods.

  15. […] Health News Updates put an intriguing blog post on The Tough Economic Times DietHere’s a quick excerptTimes (TET) times we can at least laugh because laughter is still free … Best Weight Loss Diet 2008. The Best Long Term Weight Loss Plan […]

  16. Clients Talking…

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  18. Very good, hey, you should write stuff for The Onion! 🙂

  19. Add some mint (or lemongrass or other herbs) from your garden to that water you’re drinking to add some flavor!

    I’m a big fan of buying bulk beans, lentils, split peas…saves money, very filling, and adds valuable fiber and other nutrients to your diet.

    If you take public transportation, hop off the bus or subway a few stops before your destination.

  20. […] Anyways I am hooked on this vanilla one, and love their new weight loss one with added fiber.  This protein powder also comes in a smaller size that I’m linking to at a great SALE price if you are on the “Tough Economic Times Diet.” […]

  21. […] Get a trim! Don’t forget to get a bit trimmed off your hair every couple of months (another great way to save money in these tough economic times.) […]

  22. really nice tips and perfect post thanks for your share

  23. Eat mindfully. Establishing a mind-body connection while eating will improve your awareness and satisfaction of your meal. Research shows, cultures that take time to sit and eat with others have less obesity. If you look at your food, and take the time to really taste it, you will be more aware of what and how much you are actually eating. We’ve all been there: finished off that whole bag of chips or that pint of ice cream while watching a TV marathon of our favorite show. We were eating, but our mind wasn’t part of the equation. We were consuming mindlessly. Eating mindfully allows the body and the brain to synchronize, sending messages that you are full. When you are distracted or stressed, you eat quickly, and the stomach doesn’t have time to send the message to the brain that you are full, resulting in overeating. Even if you only have a half-hour lunch break, try to make the time to sit down, away from your desk and all distractions, and really embrace your meal. Be aware of how lucky you are to have this moment to relax and eat. Eating slower and with more consciousness may also improve digestion and relieve any digestive issues such as gas and bloating. For more practical information about the importance of controlling your blood glucose levels, download a wellness guide at

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