Food for Thought: Exploring the Relationship Between Food and Money

By Staff
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Stephanie Small is a psychotherapist and holistic nutritionist who helps women improve their relationship with food. Find more from Stephanie atThree Sisters Nutrition.

How are you with food?

Do you use it as a healthy support for the rest of your life?

Do you overthink it and worry you’re not doing it right?

Do you eat restrictively, with the occasional (or more than occasional) binge on “bad” foods that just feel oh-so-good?

Do you eat restrictively, period?

Do you plan ahead, or scramble at the last minute to find something to eat? Do you eat enough?

Are you afraid of eating?

Do you eat whatever you want, without thinking about how it’s impacting you?

Re-read that list. Now replace the term “eat” with “spend.”

Food and money are both foundational supports for us. In their own way, they each nourish us. They are both key for our sense of safety and well-being. If we’ve got a problematic relationship with one, we tend to have a problematic relationship with the other.

Take a client of mine. She’s in the early stages of starting her own business, so she often feels poor. She’s always been able to afford the necessities, but she feels frustrated at having to restrict her expenditures to a shoestring budget. So whenever she comes into a bit of extra money, it goes somewhere immediately. Clothes, drinks, dinners out. She feels she needs a reward, and I agree–but I also think she’d feel safer with that money in the bank as a cushion.

She does the same with food. She’s well aware of what her body needs, and how to eat healthily. She’ll stick to a pretty strict regimen for weeks at a time. But she’s doing it because she thinks she “should,” rather than from a true desire to give her body the best. Eventually she allows a “splurge,” then another, and before she knows it she’s indulging every day.

It’s worth noticing where these patterns crop up in your life and examining them. Are you giving yourself what you need, both in terms of eating and spending? Or are you engaging in behaviors that leave you feeling unstable? Where are your strengths, and where can you “shore up” the weaker areas? Remember that food and money are there to serve you, not the other way around. You’re in control of your life, and you make the choices.

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