I have always had a complicated relationship with food and a few years back had my eyes opened to the fact that I have that exact same relationship with money.
They are two very powerful aspects of our lives, both of which we cannot live without. They have become so intertwined with our emotions and self-esteem that it is not difficult to see how there could be distinct parallels in our relationship to each.
The binge and restrict parallel
I have always believed in the all or nothing approach to dieting.
That means that although I know how to eat healthy, I force myself to stick to my healthy eating plan by following a somewhat restricted diet, any deviation could trigger a binge.
And in fact, that is what happens. It seems weekly or in some cases even daily, my willpower hits empty and sugar becomes my obsession. Unlike my husband who can eat one block of a chocolate bar, once I start, that block is never enough and I will only stop once the entire slab of chocolate is done.
The exact same thing happens to my money plan. I know what I need to do to be financially healthy, but then those “sweet as sugar” red soled shoes grab my attention and the haze of obsession settles until I just have to have them.
The Guilt parallel
I stare at the silver paper where the bar of chocolate rested just as I stare at the shoe box and the heaviness of guilt sets in.
I quickly dispose of the chocolate wrapper in the outside garbage bin so no one will see and hide the shoes at the back of my closet so no one will know what I have done.
The weight of regret sits heavy on my shoulders as I realise tomorrow the scale and my bank account will reflect my indulgence.
The Deservability parallel
Sometimes I can even justify my food and shopping binge. I have gone a whole week sticking to my eating and saving plan, I feel good about myself and accomplished, don’t I deserve a splurge? And off I go undoing all I have achieved that week.
The emotional indulgence parallel
My food and spending indulgence typically correspond to my emotional highs and lows.
When I feel depressed I eat or shop, When I feel happy, I eat or shop.
Both serve as my crutches on occasion.
The mindlessness parallel
Have you ever indulged in food or shopped and then cannot remember what you ate or why you bought a certain item at a later point in time?
This often happens to me when I am watching television. I wander into the kitchen and grab something to eat. Later I cannot remember what exactly or why.
Or as I am watching I grab my phone and do a quick email catch up.
“Oh, wait ASOS is having sale and just look at those pink furry slippers, aren’t they too cute?” And next thing I know I am the not so proud owner of some hot pink furry slippers !
The dysmorphia parallel
It is a strange phenomenon, where for many of us, when we look at ourselves in the mirror, we slide the mean girl goggles on.
These goggles are like those weird amusement park mirrors that distort how we look and typically not in a good way.
Similarly, when we try to determine how much we are worth in terms of the service we offer the world, a similar set of goggles come out, the Imposter ones. The ones that find all that is lacking in us and why we absolutely cannot ask for a high value for what we do.
We have the power to loosen the negative hold we have let money and food have over us
It’s pretty depressing how much power we let food and money have over us, however that doesn’t mean we are helpless in the face of their onslaughts above.
Here are 3 easy methods you can use to create a healthier relationship with money (and food!).
Create a “binge or reward account” in your budget
Food and money should never be in the same sentence a guilt. And deprivation has no place in our diet or our budget.
Just as an emergency fund is a vital part of a healthy money plan so is a treat fund. We need to know it is ok to indulge and in fact expected and provided for. This sets you up for success from day 1 of your new approach to your money and your food. When extremes of all or nothing are removed moderation starts to look like a much more attractive alternative.
Make healthy money and food habits easy
When it comes to our diet a kitchen filled with healthy easily accessible snacks eliminates somewhat the desire for the extremely unhealthy ones. Over time that sweet , juicy apple or that sun ripened strawberry become the go to snack that we crave.
Similarly stocking up on meals or meal ingredients that make the healthy choice easy speaks to our human default setting for the easy option.
As with our food, the easy option is the solution with our money.
Automate your money flows so that paying yourself first, meaning providing for your future and your goals, happens before anything else. Create banking sub accounts, topped up from your automated process, that are mini envelopes of cash for your expenses and your fun money.
This is the easy default setting because it eliminates the need to constantly have to pull out that willpower and decide on the “healthier” choices for our money.
The less manual intervention required when it comes to your money, the less opportunity to deviate from your plan.
Uncover limiting money beliefs
The greatest hurdle standing between us and our financial and health happiness is our mindset.
We have so many limiting beliefs running through our operating system it is a wonder we accomplish anything. And we do accomplish things each and every day we just don’t recognise how amazingly accomplished and resilient we are.
One of the best ways to identify limiting beliefs is to journal.
Get all those mean thoughts and limiting scripts you have in your head out of there and on to paper. And then start to challenge their accuracy. Chip away at them every day with the positive things you do, the things you achieve and all the good things that happen for you. Create some new uplifting, empowering scripts and become your own staunchest cheerleader and advocate.
Secondly, be vigilant of your language, “I can’t “and “I’m not” generally precede a limiting belief.
And lastly start a daily gratitude practise that recognises not only what you have in your lives right this minute but also what we have gone through or done to get to this point in time.