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Ashley Solomon, Psy.D is a psychologist who specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, body image, trauma, and serious mental illness.

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It’s all about the money, money, money… and food?

April 10, 2012 20 Comments by Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul

{image credit :: audrey sue via pinterest}

My husband and I recently began working our way through Suze Orman’s self-help guide to financial freedom. With more than a little student loan debt (grad school don’t come cheap!), we were wanted to ensure that we were most wisely planning for our financial future.

I personally think Suze Orman is brilliant, witty, and intuitive (sensing the crush I have?), so I was willing to do about anything she suggested. One of the first exercises in the workbook asked us to spend some time reflecting on our financial histories. Specifically, she wanted us to go back to childhood and think about our first memories of money and the beliefs, assumptions, and feelings that originated there. Having dreaded doing a workbook on money matters, I was relieved at this task. Deep psychological exploration? This I could handle!

Despite a smidge of initial skepticism (Memories, my husband questioned? Where does this book talk about our 401k options?), we took the plunge and started talking about early memories of money. While we come from very similar upbringings in terms of economic status, the ways that our families (and eventually we) thought about money were very different. Suddenly, so many of the disagreements that we have today about money (which, maybe surprisingly, aren’t many) came into clearer focus. We weren’t just disagreeing on how to allocate retirement savings – we were (subconsciously) talking about some of our deepest insecurities and fears.

As I started digging into my own financial formation, I began to think about just how much matters of money affect and reflect our relationships with food and ourselves. As a psychologist who treats eating disorders, it’s interesting to me to see these connections play out for my patients as well.

It’s not uncommon for someone who restricts their food to restrict their spending as well. Oftentimes I understand these behaviors as intimately tied to one another – a person will describe feeling unworthy to eat or consume, whether it’s food or material items. They might spend money on others, but they will rewear tattered clothing, deny themselves typical “splurges,” and in general avoid taking for themselves. In my understanding, the root of these behaviors lies squarely on the issue of shame. Can I be seen? Do I deserve? Am I okay?

For most individuals, a pattern of dietary restriction isn’t sustainable in the long-run. Eventually, they engage in binge eating because their bodies and minds are so ravaged from a period of restriction and starvation. This pattern happens almost identically with spending. If we deny ourselves buying the things we want and need for so long, eventually we “crack” and buy something we’re not even sure we want, oftentimes spending more than we had previously saved. A personal example was when I had agreed to not buy new clothes for a year in order to save money (I admittedly had a pretty full closet). Within the first two weeks, I found myself on online retailers and Pinterest looking at new fashions – things I never did before! It reminded me of the Minnesota starvation experiment when men were restricted food intake for many weeks. Soon the men started exhibited a significant preoccupation with food, reporting dreaming about it, imagining it, playing with it when it was available. The lesson? Restriction doesn’t work! And the resulting feelings of shame and self-blame when one “breaks down” then just perpetuate the cycle.

What this all means is that if you struggle with your relationship food, you might also want to take a closer look at your finances as well. Notice if you can find similar patterns emerging, and if you might benefit from some professional guidance.

Do you see your relationship with food being connected to your relationship with money?

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20 Comments

  1. KCLAnderson (Karen)
    3 years ago

    It is absolutely connected…inextricably! As I have worked on my food issues, money issues have surfaced. As I get “better” with food, I get better with money, too.

    Reply

  2. Eating as a Path to Yoga
    3 years ago

    I love how Geneen Roth explored how our relationship with money mirrors our relationship with food. It all comes down to restrictors and permitters.

    Reply

  3. Robyn
    3 years ago

    Ashley,
    From my personal experience, I think you are right. There is a connection between money and food restrictions.

    Money was very tight growing up and I still feel the importance of saving. I also prefer to live simply.

    The Husband and his family are very different. They don’t over spent, but are not afraid to buy the nicest they can afford or a little better. We have a lot of what I consider luxury items that the Hubby wants. Items that make life more comfortable, but not always a necessity in my opinion.

    Our eating habits kind of follow this line of thought. I tend to eat what I need or a little less vs. over filling myself.
    Robyn recently posted..Delicious Brownies and Completely Inappropriate

    Reply

  4. Omar
    3 years ago

    I agree on this post. Just for money and food.
    Omar recently posted..More Information About Essential Ingredients For BBQ

    Reply

  5. Liz
    3 years ago

    I like the young handsome guy. Thanks that you’ve shared. Keep up the good work.
    Liz recently posted..Hcg diet reviews

    Reply

  6. lariane
    3 years ago

    Money makes the world go round. I like the blog very informative and it shows the reality of life.
    lariane recently posted..How to Make a Solar Panel

    Reply

  7. Maryden25
    3 years ago

    My husband and I have no restrictions when it comes to food. We spend so much for it. Our main concern is that, we work hard to be able to eat what we want to eat. Aside from spending for our child of course. We focus on food rather than things which are not that important at home.
    Maryden25 recently posted..Coupons For Coffee

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  8. Jazmine
    3 years ago

    This is your starting line and we’re going to use that number to see how we can save, you can use the extra money to pay off bills or take a vacation.
    Jazmine recently posted..Spa Repairs

    Reply

  9. lori lieberman, rd, cde, mph, ldn
    3 years ago

    Yes, there’s clearly a parallel–those who struggle with compulsive eating and compulsive spending, as you describe. But the “wack a mole” effect also occurs–when eating disorders are coming under control we may see an increase in spending issues–not because they are feeling better but because it becomes their alternative coping.

    BTW, I once saw a great video on the Ancel Key’s experiment you describe; any idea where to find it?
    lori lieberman, rd, cde, mph, ldn recently posted..You’re Not So Special. Rethinking Your Double Standard.

    Reply

  10. Katy
    3 years ago

    I find that I always spend guilt-free on food without thinking.. which leads to a lot of overspending. Groceries and eating out alike.

    Other things like clothes, electronics and make up… I always think before I buy because I DO feel guilty with big purchases (and too many of them).
    Katy recently posted..Are You Fit For Success?

    Reply

  11. Sandra92
    3 years ago

    You have a wonderful kind of ideas, I really enjoy this one going through…
    Sandra92 recently posted..Unlock iPhone 4

    Reply

  12. Janine
    3 years ago

    I like your blog very informative and it shows the reality of life. Thanks for sharing.
    Janine recently posted..Alternative Cancer Treatment Centers

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  13. Robin
    3 years ago

    Being single is probably the only reason I don’t have a problem with food. I eat when i’m hungry, and only then, irregardless of what/when anyone else eats. My body feels and works better when I only eat twice a day, and and that tends to be minimally processed, dairy-free food. In other words: expensive!
    How do I handle the food/money quandry? By knowing my limits, and what I don’t want in my life. What I don’t need: cable tv, alcohol, cigarettes, soda, a dishwasher, a mortage. Since when did renting lose all respectbility? There are alot of places where a lease is a lot cheaper than mortage payments (can you tell I like my apartment?).
    What I do need: LED lightbulbs (expensive but worth the investment), an powerswitches, the know-how to keep my almost four year old computer in tip top shape. Dryerballs. And a DivaCup (I don’t sell them, but if you search “DivaCup” they’ll definitely save you a lot of money). Get your hair done at a cosmotology school for super cheap, they get “graded” by an instructor on each cut, so they’ll be super careful!.

    Just my two cents. Good luck.

    Reply

  14. Kazzsandra
    3 years ago

    Great ideas you have shared us! Anyway, Money cannot buy us happiness but it can buy us food to make us happy..LOL..
    Kazzsandra recently posted..Gout Home Remedies

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  15. Mhikkai
    3 years ago

    I am actually not familiar with this and I think a lot of people would be very interested to read about this..
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  16. Jaine
    3 years ago

    I really love the photo you have shared and he is really so cute and perfect as a model!
    Jaine recently posted..Good Low Carb Diets

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  17. Kathrryn
    3 years ago

    Money and food.. Yeah they are really related and you can get money out of food and even get food out of money..
    Kathrryn recently posted..disability vans

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  18. Heidi19
    3 years ago

    Great article to read! For me money and food are equally important. And providing us great ideas about this issue is really a big help. Thanks for sharing this to us and i’m looking forward to read more from you.
    Heidi19 recently posted..Arowana – a prized investment catch or …

    Reply

  19. Charlie Brown
    2 years ago

    Food and money issues are connected. The money that one has determines how the consume food and what type of foods they consume, and therefore in the event that has issues with money they will tend to have issues with the food they consume.
    Charlie Brown recently posted..Review of Shin Ohtakes Max Workouts Program

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  20. Mercy Owen
    2 years ago

    The article is just amazing. Money and food are closely related because it is the money that will dictate the type of food to buy at any given time.
    Mercy Owen recently posted..Kim Kardashian News

    Reply

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