By Steve Freidell
Land Line contributor
Are poor eating habits or overeating partly to blame for our economic crisis? In a way, they are.
A study done recently in Germany showed that over-indebtedness is strongly associated with obesity. After adjusting for socioeconomic and health risk factors, this study found that people who were deep in debt were almost twice as likely to be overweight and more than 2.5 times as likely to be obese as those who were debt-free.
Of course, this study does not prove that debt causes obesity; however, it does seem to suggest an association between the two.
A common perception exists that healthy foods cost more money than their unhealthy, mass-produced counterparts. Therefore, when spending is constricted, consumers often turn to dollar menus and frozen-food aisles to find what they’ve been conditioned to believe are the cheapest options.
This pattern of poor nutritional choices is a lot like saddling yourself with credit card debt. You’re sacrificing your long-term health for short-term convenience. That fast-food dollar menu may be appealing to your wallet, but it can also lead to far more expensive health problems in the future.
Getting debt free requires a financial diet. And that’s not just a metaphor. You’ll be surprised how much your budget and your diet are intertwined. It’s often the most common area where people overspend. And it’s the perfect place to start making simple changes that will leave you with excess cash instead of calories.
The perception that eating healthy costs more money is absolutely false. If you look at each meal, you’re spending at least $5 to $8 per person at a fast-food joint, and double or triple that at even the most modestly priced restaurant.
If you take that same amount of money into the grocery store, and purchase raw ingredients (vegetables, fruit, meat, bread, dairy) rather than overpriced prepackaged options, you’ll be stunned by your savings. In addition, you will be in far better control of the nutritional content of the food you eat – saving calories, sodium, fats, etc.
Go into the store with a list of what you need to prepare a set amount of meals and a budget to spend. Look up easy recipes online that use food items on sale. Find healthy foods that you and your family enjoy and then stick to them.
With just a little time and planning, you’ll be eating healthier and saving money. And more importantly, you’ll be instilling the willpower to make the tough, but ultimately beneficial, choices rather than falling prey to the oversimplified, heavily marketed easy way out.
It’s time to restore some self-control over what we eat, what we spend, and how we think of ourselves, or else we will continue to be at the mercy of industries that place their own short-term financial concerns over our long-term well-being – both financial and physical. LL
This material has been prepared for informational purposes only; it is not intended to provide and should not be relied upon for accounting, legal or tax advice.
Steve Freidell has assisted clients in their cash management, trading, and portfolio management of fixed income securities since 1975. Steve started his career at the First National Bank of Kansas City and later served as first vice president with Commerce Bank, where he served his clients for 25 years. He joined the DeWaay organization in 2006, the financial management company utilized by OOIDA. Steve Freidell may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.