“Cravings are powerful. (It) can make a person value a food more since it not only may fulfill a hunger need, but also a psychological need for satisfaction.”
– Ms. Jackie Arnett Elnahar, a Registered dietitian and CEO of TelaDietitian
When fast food chains offer their tasty meals, they go beyond advertising on television and social media. They employ different marketing strategies to entice the consumers into spending their hard-earned cash on the spot. These attractive offerings can increase a person’s craving for junk food.
You need to realize that your cravings for junk food burns both your wallet and your health. A 2018 study from New York University showed that people were willing to pay more for foods they crave. It did not matter whether they were hungry or not. Moreover, the amount they were willing to pay multiplied when they were offered bigger portions.
The lead author of the study explained that the “results indicate that even if people strive to eat healthier, cravings could overshadow the importance of health”. Participants craved for larger portions of junk food but did not crave larger portions of healthy food.
It is up to you to fight these cravings and to choose a healthier path. Read the following tips to start your journey.
#1: BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF
The first step to curb your junk food spending is to be honest with yourself. If you aim to gradually remove unhealthy snacks from your diet, include it to your grocery budget. Set a realistic amount and stick to it. Limiting your budget for snacks will prevent you from dropping by the store to spend more money on it.
#2: PLAN YOUR MENU
Whether you are cooking for yourself or your family, planning meals is a good place to begin improving your food choices. Taking the time to plan a healthy meal can help you avoid the costly takeaway or delivery food.
Start by grabbing a pen and a paper. List down your favorite meals. It may help to talk to your spouse or your family regarding their meal preferences. Some meals are healthier than others, but write them all for now. After gathering your options, it is up to you to strategically spread these meals out. Planning the weekly menu will help you save money and give you more time to prepare healthier food.
#3: GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK
Let us face it! Sometimes, you may feel too tired or unmotivated to prepare a meal. Give yourself a break. Reduce your junk food spending by giving yourself a cheat day. With all the factors that hinder you from preparing a meal (e.g., time), you can purchase pre-packaged meals such as salad or frozen pizza. You can only eat these types of meals during your cheat day.
#4: REWARD YOURSELF
As you practice healthy habits and reduce your junk food consumption, you can increase your motivation by rewarding yourself. Whether you want to purchase a new top or an air fryer, include this purchase on the leisure expense category of your budget. This way, you will not feel guilty about spending too much money outside of your budget.
#5: CUT DOWN ON EATING OUT
It is no secret that Singaporeans love to eat! People in Singapore are blessed with a variety of cuisines that one cannot resist the temptation of dining out. As with everything that is good, too much can be bad too.
You may feel that eating out during lunch daily does not make a difference. But, all your costs add up. The cost of one restaurant meal may be equivalent up to three home-cooked meals. Try packing lunch from home as it is generally cheaper. Packing your meals will also enable you to follow your dietary restrictions.