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Will Eat for Free!

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I’ve identified more dangerous triggers that cause me to eat when I don’t need to. It all comes down to the value of the dollar.

The first trigger is free food. When I see a spread of fruit, dips, and other indulgences, I see something I could never afford to have all at once at home. I see dollar signs in the drink mixes and shiny gold glazing on the meat slabs and it’s hard to resist the temptation when posed against the lackluster frozen meals at our house. Along the same vein is the value of my time. The free homemade cake offered at work, that I don’t have to slave over, is doubly tempting. (And I will NEVER pass up a slice of cake!) I figure as long as it’s only one indulgence every other week or so, maybe I throw a few bites away, and I only take a partial serving, I should just enjoy the frosting, guilt-free. And there can’t be much harm in filling my plate with mostly fruits and vegetables first.

The second downfall is the incredulous idea of wasted food. Knowing how much our weekly grocery budget has grown makes me want to sip, soak up, suck on, swallow, and chew every last penny’s worth that I can. The downfall of this is that those extra bites end up taking up residence in my fat cells, which is worse than living in the garbage can. I guess the easy solution to this is to buy less calorie-laden foods and serve smaller portions. Also limiting the indulgences would help, so that when I eat every last bite, it’s more likely to be broccoli and brown rice than greasy prepackaged burritos.

My third downfall is when food is offered that I wasn’t prepared for. Identifying the cost and amount of time and love spent by mommy making a double batch of cookies makes it impossible to refuse. The gooey heaven is laden with guilt from many different angles. Next time, I’ll ask for my treat to-go, fully enjoy just a few bites, and get rid of the rest or share the bounty with others. Mommy will never know.

The fourth downfall is how going out to eat has become a “treat.” My husband and I are at odds over this. My family of 5 used to go out to eat on $20 total, a rare treat. We’d share meals; scour flyers, newspapers and circulars for coupons; skip extras like drinks (only water), dessert, sides and appetizers; and memorize where the deals were. (We once had lunch at a furniture store because they were giving out free hot dogs). My husband’s family set no limits on food or cost and ate out as a convenience, versus a rare splurge. So as we combine our families, we have a habit of going out for a “rare treat” sometimes twice a week or more. Not good. I’ve bought a few quick healthy recipe books that will hopefully deflate this ballooning eating-out budget. We are in need of some variety and much more enjoyable bites at home so we don’t crave going out. After all, I’d much rather save for memorable vacations than watch money drain away on food, with nothing left to show for it.

Who knew money was so inextricably linked to diet?

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