Diet programs on a budget

HOUSTON When the economy shrinks, waistlines begin to grow. While fast food is cheap, three "recession dieters" say it is possible to save money and drop pounds.

Anjelica Jenette's lifestyle was costly in more ways than one.

"My father, aunt and uncle were all diagnosed with diabetes," she said. "[At] breakfast sometimes you stop by a fast food [restaurant and] spend $5 to $7."

She joined Nutrisystem, and instead of spending up to $70 per day on food, she spent $11.

"It came with 28 days of delicious, portion-controlled food," Jenette said.

Within five months, she lost 42 pounds.

Josh Reno lost 130 pounds in 2 years on Weight Watchers.

"I know a lot of people who say you can't get healthy while cutting your budget," Reno said. "Well, that is not true."

Weight Watchers costs $20 to register, then $13 per week. There is also a monthly pass for $10 per week.

Reno says weekly weigh-ins, counseling, and portion control tools taught him how to eat properly.

"I found that the support was what helped keep me going," he said.

And, to save on healthy foods, he reads weekly grocery ads.

"Every Wednesday you get a flyer in the mail that tells you what store has the great deals on fruits or vegetables, whether it be squash or cherries or strawberries," Reno said.

Fruits and vegetables are great diet foods but they can be expensive, so the best advice is to buy them fresh while they are in season or buy them frozen. They're just as good at a fraction of the price, plus they never go bad.

Jenny Craig clients say there is no waste on the program because the meals are frozen.

"I would go in the grocery store and buy all this food and I would cook for myself, but I would overcook, so with Jenny Craig the food is already packaged for you, which means you're only buying what you need," client Josie Latimer said.

It costs $20 to lose 20 pounds and $12 to $18 per day for food. Latimer lost 51 pounds in five months.

"Because I like to eat healthy foods, my program was very inexpensive," Latimer said.

But, she also says the investment in herself is priceless.

Jenny Craig has a special right now because of the economy and summer: 20 pounds for $20. They also will work with people who are hurting financially to reduce the cost of their foods. For more information, visit

Nutrisystem is offering a special right now due to the recession and summer being here: 1 month of free food. For more information, visit

For more information about Weight Watchers, visit

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