Is the Economy Making You Fat?

February 18, 2013

economy and weight gainThe suffering economy may have added stress in the office and made our wallets a little thinner, but new research suggests bad news about the economy could also cause you to pack on pounds.

The study, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, found that when there is perception of tough times, people tend to consume higher-calorie foods. When surrounded by negative messages, a ???live for today??? impulse is triggered, which could cause you to consume 40 percent more food than you would if you were surrounded by neutral messages.

Researchers asked participants to taste a new kind of M&M. Half were told they were tasting a new, high-calorie chocolate, and the other half were told they were tasting a low-calorie chocolate. In reality, both groups tasted the same M&M. Participants were either exposed to posters with neutral messages or messages relating to struggle and adversity. Those who were exposed to adversity messages consumed 70 percent more of the high-calorie candy.

Researchers believe the amount of candy consumed had nothing to do with taste and everything to do with desire for calories related to the perception of tough times.

The economy is out of your control, and it’s not an excuse to let your health go out the window. At the end of the day you control what you put in your body, and you have a responsibility to yourself to take care of it. Next time the economy has you feeling down, try the following instead of reaching for a bowl of M&Ms.

Have healthy outlets on hand: Do you have a friend you can always count on to make you laugh? A song that always lifts your spirits? A four-legged friend that is begging for a walk around the block? Find a pick-me-up to turn your attention away from the fridge. You???ll feel calmer and happier after doing something that puts a smile on your face. Most likely, you will find you??weren’t??hungry at all, but if your body actually needs more fuel, reach for a piece of fruit for a fiber-filled snack with natural sugars instead of a high-calorie candy bar.

Complete a puzzle: When you’re engrossed in an activity, you don’t focus on food. A puzzle requires a lot of concentration, making it easy to lose track of time. Your mind will wander from financial stresses, and your body will tell you when it???s time to eat.

Write away your stress: Journaling isn’t??just for writing down what you eat, but it???s also an emotional outlet. Studies show keeping a journal reduces stress and helps you concentrate. If the economy has taken a toll on your mental health, write it out. It’s a great tool to clear your head and remind yourself why you want to lose weight.

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