Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Lessons From Finance - Pay Yourself First... With Vegetables!

Food Displacement

Pay Yourself When/What?

One of my favourite concepts from personal finance, is the idea of "paying yourself first". There are numerous websites that explain this, from Investopedia to <OTHER>. I like the <OTHER> definition:
To pay yourself first means simply this: Before you pay your bills, before you buy groceries, before you do anything else, set aside a portion of your income to save. The first bill you pay each month should be to yourself. This habit, developed early, can help a person build tremendous wealth
Paying yourself first ensures that if you have a finite amount of money, that you meet your savings targets first, then you try to allocate what is leftover to everything else. This reduces the amount of discipline needed, and any need for a complicated budget plan. You have however much leftover after savings, and you'll find a way to make it work.

So Why is There A Picture of Some Vegetables?

What if paying yourself first, could be applied to food?

Think of it as your stomach has a finite amount of room before you feel full. By allocating some of that space for healthy, non-fattening, "no added sugar", low sodium food first, you are guaranteed to eat at least that much healthy food. After you've gotten your vegetables out of the way, you eat as you wish, but you'll have less room in your stomach for everything else. The vegetables will crowd out how much other food you can eat.


It's BBQ season. In Canada (and of course the USA), BBQ's are a great time for gettting together with friends and eating delicious BBQ'd food. Several weeks ago I went to a friend's bbq and ate:
  • 2x 1/4 pound cheeseburgers with buns
  • 1x large piece of salmon
  • uncountable numbers of chips, with a homemade dip with cheese, and salsa
  • 3x chicken quesadilla's
  • an ice cream sandwich
I'll admit, this is an obscene amount of food. All of it was completely delicious, but probably more than I should be eating. The ability to overeat at a BBQ is compounded by the amount of time you spend at one. That afternoon we were there for 4-5 hours. I enjoyed myself the whole time, and it was an excellent chance to catch up with friends, but it's hard to sit around for that long and not keep eating.

Fill Yourself First (with Vegetables)

Rather than relying on any sort of willpower, when I was invited to another BBQ last weekend, I resolved to do things differently.

Prior to going to the BBQ, I made the salad you see above and ate it. Getting to the BBQ took about 30 minutes, so it didn't feel as if I had just ate prior to arriving. Over the next happy 3 hours at the BBQ, I ate a fair amount, but nowhere near as much as at the last one. I had filled myself first, so there just wasn't as much room.

Eating a healthy, breakfast every morning is another example of filling yourself first. Breakfast can help reduce any unhealthy, rushed, fast food type lunch you may wind up eating.

So next time you're going to a ribfest, BBQ, or other potential binge eating session, why not fill yourself first and displace just a bit of the unhealthy food you're about to eat.


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