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Did you ever stop and analyze what drives your dysfunctional eating? Specifically, whether your thoughts about food are rational? I bet not. Irrational thinking is the major cause of dysregulated eating. Here’s one common example.
My client Jonah described how he always wanted to eat or buy two of everything. We hadn’t talked about this issue before and he explained that, for example, getting two hamburgers for a bit more than the price of one felt so right. For example, he thought the idea of paying $6 for two burgers when he’d have to pay $4 for one was terrific.
I told him that would work if he were buying them in a store and was planning to have two meals for the six bucks. He said, no, he ate whatever he bought at once, whether he was hungry for the second one or not and was tickled pink knowing how much money he’d saved. I told him he hadn’t saved any money but had wasted $2 on a hamburger he hadn’t wanted or needed. He said he’d never thought of it that way.
Our discussion eventually wended its way back to his childhood in which he got just enough to eat and no more. He didn’t suffer from hunger, but there wasn’t enough food to have seconds if he wanted them. Ditto clothes: one pair of shoes, one knapsack, one baseball cap, etc. Hence this obsession with always having one more than he needed.
Now back to this idea of buying two items because they’re cheaper than one would be alone. It’s just plain silly. Think about it: You’re spending more money on the two unless you can use the other item. I buy two jars of olive oil on sale when I can because I use them, but I would never pay more for two things if I didn’t want the second thing. I would consider it a waste of money.
So, why do we not see this as a clear case of irrationality? Because of marketing and nonsensical thinking. We live in a capitalist society. The people selling burgers don’t care about your health. They only care about their bottom line profits. They entice you pricewise with two burgers, you get hooked and they get rich. You consistently eat two burgers when you only want one and you feel bloated and upset with yourself.
This idea of thinking you need “more than” is based on deprivation. It’s not always about food; maybe there were other things you were denied that made you never want to feel that kind of intense wanting again. Buying enough food and eating to satisfaction and fullness are your goals now. The urge to buy or consume more than you need comes from yesterday, not today. Eat just enough and you’ll feel better and save money too.
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