January 2011: challenges

January was a tough month. After holding out for so long I finally hit a wall– after my little happy hour breakdown halfway through the month…. downhill from there. Suddenly, it seems like I should “just this once” indulge in things – whether at the grocery store adding a few too many luxury items to the cart, or sliding into a booth at Burgerville that one lunch hour when I was really hungry. It strikes me that this is a really basic principal of frugality at work — that when you try to deny everything, your willpower breaks down and the flood lets loose. (Reader Micah also pointed this out on the 1/15 post).

Being prepared with food is the best way for me to avoid extra expense incurred by eating out. Ali is my personal chef and gets lunches ready every morning, I’m thankful for that. I also try to keep some packets of cashews or almonds, along with fruit snacks in the car for emergency blood sugar situations. Having a plan for dinner – something in the slow cooker or an idea of what I’m craving that day – also helps avoid thinking too much about eating on the way home. I don’t WANT to think about food so much, and I’ve never had a problem with food aside from needing to make sure to regulate blood sugar. But this longing for what I’m not supposed to have goes deep – a little bit of the ol’ “forbidden fruit” mentality? Definitely a little of “awakening the dragon” and a little bit of boredom (beans in a crock pot only stay exciting for so long).

What should I do about this food issue? I have been thinking about food a lot lately. I think the denial of eating out in some way triggers a little bit of survival instinct (scarcity mentality), which is a tiny bit ridiculous since our fridge and cabinets are full. I have thought about giving myself one day a week to eat a moderate lunch out… I may try this for February and see if I can curb some of the appetite for luxury and convenienceĀ  – or maybe that will make the longing worse. We also have a gift certificate for a really excellent restaurant a client gave me as a thank you for doing some family portraits, so I am looking forward to the opportunity to use that.

Any other suggestions? I am fascinated to explore these new and unexpected issues — the psychology behind desire, contentment and longing, and reaching for a big goal that necessitates lifestyle shift. The goal is abundance mentality in all areas of life.

6 thoughts on “January 2011: challenges

  1. Phyllis

    Hi R & A! I struggle with this a lot too – I love eating out & since we are cutting back, it’s hard not to long for things or be constantly grocery shopping (I always think we are running out of stuff and need to be overstocked!). My brother, who is also working on getting rid of debt, was suggesting that we work for something – like a nice dinner out or some sort of reward that we value – every time something like that comes up or we think about what we might be “missing out” on, I think about what we’re working towards – a tangible reward – and that helps a lot. You set how often & what it should be. I think it’s the same idea as in dieting… If we completely deny ourselves, we just end up sabotaging it. Also, do you have spencer hanging up at your house somewhere? Those our my thoughts for now – I hear my child beckoning me! Miss you guys!

  2. Judy McPherson

    Rachel – are you taking a vitamin or getting all the food groups? Be careful about being frugal with food. Restraurants – avoid them like the plague when you are trying to save money, but never take a chance with your health by not eating enough fruit, veggies, and whole grains as well as dairy and lean protein. And don’t forget a little chocolate once in a while (though if I remember right, this makes you a little “different” so maybe tiny piece. Seriously, you can scrimp on a lot of things, but be careful scrimping on food. When you deny yourself to much your body rebels and it does so because you are missing essential nutrients. With God all things are possible. Eating beans is a great thing- high quality protein and fiber – but moderation is in order. Don’t eat them constantly. And for you – you need protein. You might need to eat more meat and for crying out loud get enough dairy.

  3. Micah

    Food and eating are complex and fascinating subjects with regards to humans! While most animals eat just for sustenance, humans have evolved in a such a way that we can derive pleasure from food and the act of eating can be a social activity. So by denying yourself the frequency of eating out, you are also denying yourself some amount of pleasure and social activity (even if you are dining alone!) Like I mentioned in my last comment, you should allow yourselves some moderate rewards by eating out.

    Additionally, it seems like you are growing tired of your slow-cooker meals. While they are convenient for the young professional on the move, repetition will most definitely set in. I would suggest that you and Ali try to cook more meals together at your home, that don’t involve a slow-cooker. You’ll be able to spend time with your favorite person and share in the satisfaction that both of you contributed towards your sustenance. (And hopefully, you’ll create something yummy that will satisfy some of your food-related pleasure centers.)

    I know I’ve made a plea to you before to start cooking at home and now I see a great opportunity to learn, explore, and succeed in something new. You don’t have to cook duck a l’orange on the first night, but try something simple and see if it changes your thoughts on food and eating out.

  4. jac

    Maybe just set a money limit for your one-ish outing each week? That way you won’t feel as guilty but you will still have the freedom to do it if you want to. I totally get this post by the way! Love what you two are doing, stay focused, you can do it!


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