May 112011
Money, money, money, money.... etc.

“I Would”, not “You Should”

First up, it was VERY tempting to use the word “should” in the title of this piece. Telling people what they “should” do is definitely a habit that I am trying to move away from.

So consider this a personal opinion that may be worth your while considering your outlook upon.

Food, Glorious Food!

Absorbing nutrients is pretty much the foundation of life. From the most gigantic of creatures, to humans, to single celled organisms life ceases if there is no nutrient input available.

"Please sir!"

These kids knew what was up.

We have also seen time and time again that quality of life is strongly associated with the food you consume. Problems with obesity, heart disease, cancers, chronic illness and many other ailments are often linked to the food you consume or the food you DON’T consume. Even people that have only a cursory interaction with the field of “fitness” will often state that they’ve heard weight control is 60-80% dietary (or higher).

So why is it that when times are tough and we feel the need to save a few cents we so often turn to cutting the food bill?
Many reasons, I would say. It is a highly recurring bill, so we likely think that shaving some cost off there will be a lasting saving and assist us in the long run.

We are constantly on the receiving end of advertisements that push not only particular fast foods, but the very idea that food being “fast”, “easy” and “cheap” is desirable.
We are wooed with labeling tactics such as “Low in Fat”, “Natural Flavours” and “100% Australian Beef” to confuse us as to where the line of health lies and make us think that cheaper purchases are “probably just as good”.

Why I Think A Healthy Food Bill Will (Often) Mean A Healthier You

When you think about it, every single thing you do and how well you do it can be linked directly to what food you intake and the context in which you consume it.

At a basic level, quality foods in sync with your body’s desires will allow you a greater level of adaptability. This could be beneficial in many ways, improving mental performance, physical performance, emotional stability and such near-invisible functions as maintaining a powerful immune system. If food fuels every reaction within your body and your body is the vehicle for expressing yourself through action, why would you cheat yourself by cutting costs?

Unfortunately, “good” food is often also “expensive” food. There are some exceptions in relation to nutrition (some of which I will attempt to highlight here in future) but where nutrition and sheer enjoyment cross is rarely a cheap location.

In The Movement, we often use the phrase “State Before Skills” to refer to the practice of making sure a participant in an activity puts themself in a beneficial or constructive state before engaging in any activity. I’ll talk about this in many contexts, but in this case it is relevant as food can be a powerful manipulator of state.

“I’m being manipulated by food?!”

If she doesn't beat herself up, at least her state will be awesome.

First Google Image Search result for "controlling food". It works.

If you have the goal to “eat well”, it often improves your state to eat within the guidelines you relate to that goal. Food can also improve your state through sheer enjoyment and delight in the food and process of eating.

The flipside is that eating “badly” or food that you don’t enjoy can be a negative experience, to some almost soul-crushing and will-breaking. So even if you are eating “good” food, but it is bland, repetitive or purely not-to-your-taste, your state may suffer and your function will be worse than it could be. Likelihood of continuing in the vein you establish is also diminished, due to this undesirable state.

“So what does it all come down to?”

To attempt to achieve optimal state and adaptability, you must attempt to synchronise your eating habits with both your goals for your body and also an enjoyable and positive state (read: food you WANT to eat). This is probably not as hard as it sounds, but it is likely to cost you a lot more than buying McDonald’s and additive loaded supermarket goods.

Consider, however, the cost of the alternative. Does anything else you buy affect you so critically? Do you think your money should be allocated according to effect upon your life or by habit and social acceptance?

Food for thought.

I would love any comments and input you have on this subject! If you’re on Twitter, I will attempt to answer all tweets promptly and would appreciate being followed.

  6 Responses to “The Last Place I Would Consider Saving Money”

Comments (5) Pingbacks (1)
  1. Great one, Piers. I put a lot of attention to the food I eat, but until recently I didn’t put much attention on my state while eating it. I think it explains much of my rebounds more than I’m willing to admit.

    I started something new which so far is going well. We’ll see if it lasts :)

    Thanks for the important reminder!

    • Thanks for the comment, Mat!
      Yeah, I think even those of us who are aware of these things often have a long way to go in implementation. Just gotta get the reps in to make the habits align, right?

  2. Hi Piers,

    I enjoyed reading your article, it is well thought out and flows well. I also understand your belief that what we intake / absorb should be our no.1 concern, and not take a back seat when we are trying to control our finances. I’d love to see your article take a slightly more personal stance. Have you taken your philosophies on board, and if so, how did you implement them, and how succesful were they with your family?

    • Thank you very much for the feedback and comment, Jenn! I hope as I get more comfortable with writing for a blog that I can make my articles sound more personal without getting so long people don’t read them. It was hard to keep this one at the length it ended up and I tend to rant on a bit about personal things, haha.

      This has definitely been taken on board by my little family (with a wife and infant daughter)! I am very lucky that my wife agrees with me on this issue. We spend quite a fair amount on food each fortnight, but make sure that the expenditure is due to our priorities, rather than wasteful spending. We do a “large” buy at a butcher each pay period that specialises in local and organic meats. We also have a regularly delivered box of local organic produce once a week that makes sure we eat a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables. Having these habitual expenditures on quality ingredients makes it a bigger hurdle in your mind to jump to “worse” options.
      Experience leads me to believe that actively creating habits that are hard to avoid awareness of breaking can have large and consistent payoffs.
      I would say the area in which we struggle the most at times is in planning and controlling preparation. I have nothing against eating “junk” food now and then (in fact I think it is a good thing, but that’s a post for another day), but I do believe we rely on its convenience a little more often than we should. I am attempting to address this with increasing my knowledge of quality foods I can have on hand that would be ready to eat within approx. 40mins.

      There are definitely times that I question the amount we can spend, but it is rare that I can’t find a more pointless cost to reduce/eliminate.

  3. Well written and very insightful Piers! I’ll definitely be following your blog. It doesn’t hurt that you put up a grip video either since I’ve been training grip since 2000 and get a lot of enjoyment from training and competing.

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