When Economy Sours…What Soothes Your Soul?

A couple of weeks ago I received a phone call from a Harvard journalism student looking to interview me for a nutrition-related article. He sent me a series of questions to answer via email along with a link to an article from the New York Times entitled “When Economy Sours, Tootsie Rolls Soothe Souls.” The content of the article was by no means shocking. The gist of the article stated that people seem to be eating more processed/cheap food like candy as a pick-me-up and pat on the back during these economic times. Sure, an 80 cent bag of skittles is a much more affordable reward than a trip to the spa when you are feeling run down or scored an “A” on a final exam. And a bag of skittles certainly won’t make or break your health…

BUT, I’d like to use this article as a platform to address a larger issue. In America we have become totally weight obsessed. And this obsession with weight has led to a wide variety of totally disordered eating patterns. One of the habits most of us have developed is eating for non-physical reasons. Food is a useful tool for procrastination, celebration, a cure for boredom, and even a sleep aid. But the consequences (weight gain) are often less than desirable.

So you may want to reflect on the role food is playing in your own life. Yes, food is absolutely meant to be enjoyed. I believe that full-heartedly. But food is meant to be fuel for our bodies. It is meant to solve a physical need for energy rather than satisfy our many emotional needs. Many people find an “80:20 rule” to be useful. Eat for physical reasons (i.e. hunger) 80% of the time and you should be just fine. So the next time you purchase a bag of skittles as a cheap pick-me-up, consider the “80:20 rule.” Your health just might thank you for it.