By Michelle Fiordaliso, MSW & Certified Nutritional Consultant
"We are currently experiencing the greatest recession in the past sixty years. There’s no doubt that it affects many aspects of our lives. But do you realize how it affects your overeating, binging, and emotional eating? There are both positive and negative ways the recession might be affecting what you eat. Let’s take a look at all sides:
PEOPLE ARE EATING OUT LESS
This is one way that the recession could affect your eating in a positive way. Having less access to disposable income is contributing to people frequenting restaurants much less. When you eat out it’s difficult to know exactly how much fat, sodium, and sugar are in your meal. Portions tend to be larger than what you might eat at home. There is more alcohol, more bread, and more dessert consumed. By eating at home, not only will you save money but you can more closely monitor what you’re eating. One thing to be aware of is that when you’re in the red it can be very tempting to fill up on inexpensive fast food. McDonald’s is advertising their $3 meal deal. Now, more than ever, it’s important to fill your body with food that will be grounding and nutritive so that you can face these trying times with a clear mind.
PEOPLE ARE WORRIED
Emotional eaters are known for catastrophizing. What this means is that your mind has a tendency to imagine the worst case scenario. It means that everyday concerns become huge worries that keep you up at night. When fears become overly inflated it’s more likely that you’ll need to be soothed. And if food is the thing that calms you, your worries about money, job security, and retirement could make you crave food more and more. To combat this, write out a list of your fears. Then, give them a reality check asking yourself how likely it is that your fears will become reality. Finally, create a game plan for what you would do if those fears came true. Are there ways that you can plan ahead to protect yourself from the worst possible outcome?
PEOPLE ARE IN CRISIS
If you’ve been laid off, lost some of your investments or retirement money, or have a spouse who has experienced a cut in some way, you could currently be in a state of crisis. The stress you’re feeling is legitimate. It’s understandable that you would need an escape right now. But you’ll have to ask yourself if food is the best form of escape to reach for. How can you and your family experience escape that doesn’t make you feel bad? Find activities that are free: concerts, nature walks, DVDs from your local library. A member wrote to us this week and said that she often chose the relief of food because it worked even if the positive effect was only for a few hours. However, she finally realized that feeling better by eating didn’t affect the problem at hand in a direct way. In fact, it just postponed getting on with the business of improving her circumstances. If the stress of these financial times is sending you in search of food, stop and think things through. How is eating ultimately going to help with what you’re handling?
Remember that overeating is often a sign of powerlessness and defeat. When you think there’s no way that you can positively change your circumstances you might conclude, Why not at least give myself a few moments of pleasure by eating this treat? However, eating reinforces your belief that you’re powerless. It leaves you defenseless in these times when you need to be cultivating your sharpest mind, your most effective self, and your most creative thinking.
Put the food down and play a game. Put the food down and think of a new way to generate income. Put the food down and plan ahead. We are all faced with more challenges than ever these days. But that also means we have the opportunity to rise to the challenges that face us."