12 REASONS A DECREASE IN YOUR BOTTOM LINE CAN CAUSE AN INCREASE IN YOUR WAISTLINE–AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT
By Michelle May, M.D.
These challenging economic times may affect more than just your bottom line. If you’re not mindful about your eating and physical activity, losses in your net worth will translate into gains in your pants size. Here are a dozen ways that tightening your belt could cause you to loosen it.
1. As prices rise, you may be more tempted to go for the bargains, for example:
- Ordering the super meal deal and saying yes to upsizing.
- Purchasing the large, economy packages, forgoing the more expensive smaller sizes and portion-controlled packaging.
2. On a limited budget you may choose quantity over quality, for example:
- Going to the all-you-can-eat buffet instead of that cute little bistro that serves small portions.
- Buying mac ‘n cheese on special instead of fresh fruits and veggies.
3. Compared to many other forms of entertainment, eating is less expensive.
4. As it becomes more difficult to afford luxuries like a new car, a bigger home or fancy vacations, you may turn to an excess amount of food to experience a sense of abundance.
5. Being distracted by money worries can lead to mindless munching.
6. You may turn to food to soothe stress, anxiety and uncertainty.
7. Your body may store fat more easily when you’re under stress.
8. Loss of control in one area of your life may cause you to feel out of control in other areas, such as your eating or exercise patterns.
9. Financial stress may trigger memories of prior food scarcity. For example:
- Perhaps there was a lot of competition for food in your family when you were a kid.
- Your family’s lack of money meant you really did need to clean your plate.
10. Worry can keep you up at night. Inadequate sleep can contribute to weight gain in several ways:
- Physiological changes occur that lead to more efficient fat storage
- When you’re tired you may reach for food as a quick pick-me-up
- You may not handle stress as well, leading to overeating to cope
11. You may give up exercise time to work a few more hours.
12. You may give up your gym membership or personal trainer to save a few dollars—a big mistake if exercise was helping you manage stress and your weight.
THE BOTTOM LINE
You’ll pay a steep price when you respond to financial (or any other source of) stress with overeating and inactivity. You’ll likely see a decrease in your vitality and productivity and an increase in the cost of healthcare and incidentals like new clothing. But enough doom and gloom. By becoming more aware of your reactions, you can choose to respond in more effective (and economical) ways.
Here are a dozen ways to keep from having to loosen your belt while you tighten it:
1. If you’re facing a financial (or any other) challenge, use it as an opportunity to reassess your priorities. Isn’t your health your most valuable asset?
2. Practice mindful eating; you’ll eat less by enjoying it more. For more on mindful eating, see my article “Leave the Stuffing for the Turkey” http://amihungry.com/pdf/newsletter-11-07.pdf and "Mindful Eating: Get Out of Auto Pilot" http://www.amihungry.com/mindful-eating.shtml
3. Treat yourself to small quantities of high quality foods; for example savor one square of imported chocolate instead of scarfing a whole bag of a bargain brand.
4. Learn to cook or teach someone else how to. It costs less and it’s a great way to spend time with your family passing on valuable skills to your kids. (You may be interested in my daughter’s brand new cookbook called Veggie Teens at www.VeggieTeensCookbook.com.)
5. Try new healthy recipes. Surf the Internet for recipes for ethnic foods, use of new ingredients, or new ways to prepare familiar foods.
6. Don’t skimp on healthful ingredients.
- Fruits and Veggies: Buy in season; shop farmer’s markets; join a co-op; grow your own; buy frozen; add plenty to soups, stews and pastas to stretch your meal and your nutrients.
- Whole Grains: Buy brown rice, oatmeal, cereals and other whole grain products in bulk or economy sizes. Shop for whole grain breads at bakery outlet stores and club stores (bread freezes well).
- Low Fat Dairy: Buy generic/store brands or buy name brands on sale; buy economy size yogurt and transfer to single portion containers as needed; shred your own cheese.
- Lean Protein: Experiment with a variety of dried beans and lentils; buy lean cuts of meat on sale and freeze for later.
7. Take your lunch to work. You’ll save money and calories.
8. Entertain at home; light candles, put on beautiful music, and use your best dishes. Follow dinner with a long walk, a great DVD, or game night.
9. When you eat out, share meals or take half home for a second meal. Most restaurant serving sizes are large enough to make every meal two-for-the-price-of-one.
10. Maintain or start a balanced fitness program. It’s a great stress reliever and will increase your energy and improve your outlook.
11. Exercise doesn’t have to be expensive. A few ideas: walk with friends, bring your dusty exercise equipment in from the garage, check out fitness DVDs from the library, or take a yoga class at a community center.
12. Instead of reaching for food, build your inventory of other coping strategies such as journaling, talking, reading, playing music, painting, praying, and meditating.
You may not be able to control economic inflation – but you can prevent your own!
Eat Mindfully. Live Vibrantly!
Michelle May, M.D.
P.S. Download a one-page reminder to post on your refridgerator: "101 Things to Do Besides Eat" from http://amihungry.com/.