How your relationship with food is like your relationship with money

relationships with food and moneyDo you recognise any of these issues when it comes to you and money…

– You spend too much.

– You stick your head in the sand and you’re not aware of what goes on with your finances, only looking at your bank statements when you absolutely have to.

– You are all or nothing, so you either set yourself a really strict budget, or you just spend mindlessly, often on credit cards.

– You feel guilt or shame around your spending habits.

– You hide purchases from your partner / family.

Those are some quite common issues around money and I’ve absolutely experienced all of those in some way, shape, or form over the last several years of life.

Something that has changed for me over the last few months is becoming really focused on wanting to change what my relationship with money is, and in doing so I’ve really started to understand how similar our relationship with money is to our relationship with food.

Here’s some typical ways that we see our relationship with food and our relationship with money being similar…

Numbing out

A lot of the time we use food as a way to either provide comfort or to actually numb out of our feelings. We’ll binge or overeat to distract ourselves from feeling negative feelings, whether that’s guilt or shame, worry or stress.

It can be similar with shopping or spending. You get that high in a similar way that you sometimes get with food. It takes you away from feeling some of the feelings that you probably should be feeling, but because most of us have been brought up to suppress or ignore negative feelings, we find these ways to numb out of them.

Binge / restrict cycle

I’m sure some of you will recognise the binge / restrict cycle when it comes to food, but that can also be seen in the budget / splurge scenario with money. With food, what we can often find ourselves doing is becoming restrictive with what we eat in a bid to either lose weight or to remove certain food groups. Then after a while it’s common to start craving the thing we’ve cut out or restricted. We often end up bingeing or we end up making a mistake and enter ‘fuck it’ territory.

It can be similar with money. You can set yourself a strict budget and try and stick to it, but then when we can’t stick to the budget, we end up just splurging and just thinking, “Whatever, let’s just stick it on the credit card.” Again, that really comes down to all-or-nothing thinking. It’s quite a typical pattern in both relationships with food and money.

Treat yo self

Another way that I’ve seen it come about is in that whole “Treat yourself” scenario. I’m actually a big fan of the concept of treating around food, but what can sometimes happen when you aren’t mindful about it is that it can become an excuse to just keep on treating, and keep on eating.

It can also happen with money so you end up having just one too many treats when it comes to spending, and you can find that it really, really adds up over time. Also, this is an area where other people can factor in. I love James, but he can be a bad influence when it comes to treating myself with food and with spending, because he knows it makes me happy in that instant and he just wants me to be happy!

Mindlessness

It’s so easy to be just as mindless with money as it is to be mindless around food. That thing where you sit watching TV and mindlessly popping crisps into your mouth can be seen when you just have no idea how much you’re spending month to month. This can be made more challenging if you have credit cards with a big limit.

Mindset and limiting beliefs

I talk a lot about mindset and limiting beliefs. Limiting beliefs can be conscious or unconscious beliefs about ourselves that we have come to believe at a subconscious level that cause us to self-sabotage. These limiting beliefs are present for every area of our lives, but here are a couple of scenarios you might find familiar with food and money.

If you have a limiting belief that says that you’ll never be able to handle or keep hold of money, it always disappears from your bank account, you’re really crap at managing it, then you’re gonna start self-sabotaging to make your reality reflect that subconscious limiting belief. Just as with food, the similar thing applies. If you’ve got a limiting belief that you’ll never be able to lose weight, you’re gonna self-sabotage in order to keep your reality in check with what your limiting belief is. I talk much more about this kind of mindset work in the Mindset Makeover Course (which will be back in 2017).

The good thing is, when it comes to both food and money, the way to become more balanced with each is the same kind of approach. Being more intentional and conscious with both food and money really helps. Think the opposite of mindlessness; be more mindful. That means facing up to your financial situation, but being realistic with your budgeting. If a budget just isn’t enough you’ll put yourself at risk of that all or nothingness (this is something I’m still learning when it comes to my budgeting!) I know it’s really hard when your income is set, so it might be about playing around with cutting back in one area so you can have more freedom in another.

It can also mean having a daily practice of awareness with both food and money. I’m a huge fan of using a simple habit tracker for food which allows me to look at all my positive habits around eating and more, without it feeling restrictive. I also keep an eye on my budgets and finances every day, just jotting down what I’ve spent in that day and which budget it’s come from. Limiting beliefs can still sneak in and cause you to self sabotage, but when you start observing your behaviour more mindfully you’ll start to see where, and often why, you’re sabotaging yourself.

I’d love to get your thoughts on this. Do you see similarities between your relationships with food and money?

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  • I actually find that most of my disposable income goes on food so eating better and making better financial decisions are really linked for me! I try to think of eating treats like using my credit card, I can eat something indulgent but I think have to balance it out in the same way as if I have a week of high spending. I use an app to help track my spending which really helps me to see where my money is going, where I can cut down and where I can accept it (a daily coffee shop coffee is my current “accept it” spent because I make sure I really enjoy it). I definitely have a limiting belief around saving money which I need to work on! x

    • That’s really interesting! That’s also a great way to think about it, love the idea of treats being like spending on a credit card. Also good to have accept it things, I certainly have a few of those!

  • Maria B

    This is an interesting proposition. I can see why they could be linked. I think with money I have a bit of ebb and flow- some months are more expensive so then I cut back the next month- everything is cleared each month and I put some aside for savings too. What I don’t agree with is when experts say to use cash instead of cards- for me if I spend on my credit card I can log on and see exactly what I have spent whereas if I get some cash out, it will go on car parking, bits here and there and before I know it, I’ve spent £20.

    • I agree with you on that, I use separate accounts for different budgets and transfer money into my main account when I spend something so I can always see how much is left in each budget.

  • Yes I totally agree that the two things can be very similar. I know I’ve had moments of “F*** it” for both food and spending and then regretted it afterwards when I realise I probably shouldn’t have eaten as much or spent as much… but then tomorrow is a new day and I’m more sensible (with food/money). I’m very cautious with my money and have a spreadsheet where I track all my monthly outgoings so I’m never usually taken by surprise by anything. It’s always good to keep aware of things, even if it’s not good news and you want to run away. Being an adult is hard!

    • It’s great that you’re so aware with money, but yes adulting is hard sometimes, I should have been budgeting the way I do now 10 years ago!

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