“Budget” Tips, Part 1 (recycled)

In Diet and Weight, Food and Health, Mindful Eating on October 3, 2011 at 12:01 pm
Dollar sign on doctorfoodtruth

I got an interesting tweet from @SamTheTrainer a few days ago.  She found a San Francisco Chronicle article about budgets and suggested what I’ve written about in the past, that money and calories require the same skills to manage.

After consulting with the smartest money man I know, @PeteThePlanner, and hearing that the budget advice was (mostly) good, I decided to post a side-by-side comparison.

The SFC article has 6 points, each of which easily translates to dietary advice.  Unfortunately, the article is longer than my attention span 😉  so I’ll break it into two parts, today and Thursday.

1) Indulge in what matters to you.  The author Annie Mueller wisely points out that if I feel deprived, I’m more likely to have what I miss the most stuck in my mind.  This is no way to live or succeed, since most of us eventually give in to cravings.  Instead, she suggests cutting optional things that DON’T give pleasure but keeping the “important” ones.

I think in terms of diet and healthy food choices, this is absolutely the top of the list for both budgeting reasons.  Deprivation makes me grumpy and more likely to choose poorly, so I should avoid it if possible.  Instead, I cut my calorie budget where I don’t mind: I won’t miss the gravy as much as the dessert, I like orange juice but would rather be without it than without Fritos, and so on.  No food is all bad but some is much more good than others and some foods make me much happier than others.  Find and remove those high-calorie but low-enjoyment foods and start saving your calories!

2) Don’t automatically choose the cheapest option.  Ms. Mueller returns to the old advice “you get what you pay for,” which is so true in multiple areas of life.  The cheaper car may end up costing much more in the long run once you figure in the fuel and maintenance costs, the cheaper shirt may need dry-cleaning or just not last long enough to be worthwhile.  Looking ahead to the “costs of ownership” is key to planning your monetary budget.

Your calorie “budget” is similar.  You may save $2 and 5 minutes by going to McDonald’s instead of Subway, but if that gets you an extra 200 calories along with it, not such a great deal.  (Not that Subway isn’t full of calorie traps too…)  The cheaper food is tempting for today’s budget.  I must remember to think “What is that ‘savings’ going to cost in the long haul?”

How will that extra 10 pounds feel to lug around all next year?  What are the costs of seeing your doctor and pharmacist much more often when diabetes or heart disease set in?  I think the long-term “costs of eating” should always figure into your grocery and restaurant decisions.

3) Skip the coupons.  Here the advice starts to get even more counter-intuitive, but keep in mind that coupons aren’t printed for your benefit but for the food companies’.  The lure of saving $1 can be enough to get me to buy something I wouldn’t have otherwise.  As Ms. Mueller says, “wouldn’t it be better to save the total price by not buying the item at all?”

This doesn’t need translation to apply to my waist line.  It’s a good bet that the products with coupons won’t be the healthiest choices at the market.  Somehow, I seem to get more “free burrito” coupons from Chipotle than “free humus” from the vegetarian place.  Hmmm.

Stay tuned Thursday for tips 4, 5, and 6!

Eat Healthfully, Live Fully Healthy!


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