Overeating and Overspending – What’s the Connection?
Did you ever notice that the holidays are often a time when your body gets heavier and your burden of debt gets heavier, too? There is a direct correlation between overeating and overspending. Americans (and many other Western Cultures) are consumers; we’re consumers of food making us the heaviest people in the world and we’re consumers of goods making us the most in debt in the world. You don’t become obese over night and you don’t get in debt over night either. These two things take time and a recurrence of practicing the same habits over and over again. Both of these issues are ignited by choosing immediate gratification over long-term peace and happiness. What it will take to lose weight is not that different from what it will take to get out of debt. Here’s how you do it:
1. Know Where Your Calories (or Money) Go Try keeping a log for one month of your expenditures and your calorie consumption. When you know where you’re spending, you get to be the one who chooses. For instance, writing down where you spend your money could enlighten you. You might think that you could never afford a massage once a month but when you look at your receipts, you notice that going to Starbucks every day is costing you $120/month. What if you went every other day? With that information, you have a choice. You can get a massage once a month for $60 and you’ll be consuming half the calories, too. Same thing with food. You might deprive yourself of cake but when you look at your calorie consumption you see that you’re consuming 500 calories in sugar and half & half in your coffee. Do you really want four cups of coffee or would you rather have a piece of cake? When you know where the money or calories are being spent, you can make more informed choices.
2. Think About the Future In the immediate moment a tasty treat or a new purchase can seem like the answer to every woe in the world. Be sure to stop and think things through. No matter what you’re feeling, will eating something make you feel better in the end? Is that new shirt that costs $50 really worth it when it’ll end up costing $150 by the time you pay the finance charges on your credit card. Slowing things down and thinking things through will limit the amount of impulsive, unconscious decisions you make.
3. Be Selfish When I say be selfish I don’t meant what you think. I’m suggesting that you stop keeping foods in the house because you think that others will be disappointed if they’re not there. For example, I have to have sweets for the kids. Or feeling like you have to eat with your husband even though you had dinner with the children two hours before. When it comes to spending (particularly at the holidays) you don’t have to please people with purchases you can’t afford (especially in today’s economy). Do what’s right for you and don’t feel badly about it. Find other ways to make the holidays special that don’t include food or presents. Your children might remember a night of caroling with a thermos of mulled cider for a lifetime while they might never again remember a toy that will get discarded two months from now. Learning to regulate what you eat and where you spend your money are two important aspects of being an adult. When you binge on food or binge on buying, it often causes more anxiety than it quells. Keep yourself calm by thinking things through and choosing where and how you’re going to reward yourself. When you know where your money (and calories) go, you have more choices; and with more choices comes more freedom, and with more freedom; greater peace of mind.