Food Insecurity and Diets

By Robyn Priebe
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After the little town our healthy weight loss spa resides in was hit hard by the flood waters of Irene, we lost our one and only grocery store.  As a result, our town grocery store has been operating out of a tent for the last four months.  As of today it will close completely for 10 days in order to move back into a building.  Now, I do have a car and I can drive to a neighboring town to shop, but I still had a twinge of food insecurity pop up regarding this.

This got me thinking about the food insecurity that dieters experience.  Although most of us don’t need to worry about not having enough food in the house or not knowing where our next meal will come from, we can still experience perceived future restriction and that can feel scary.  Anticipating your next diet attempt, whether the plan is to start Monday or tomorrow, can create a sense of deprivation before you’ve even cut your first calorie and consequently the Last Supper Effect kicks in.

Food insecurity can occur due to our chaotic work or school schedules as well.  Many of us have such busy days that eating gets put on the back burner.  We may struggle through the day thinking that we won’t get to the chance to eat, and as a result we eat whenever food is put in front of us, since it can appear like our only chance to do so.  I call this proactive-eating, i.e. “I’d better eat these donuts I stumbled upon on the break-room now since I doubt that I’ll get a lunch break later.”

Making sure you have access to a wide variety of foods and that your kitchen or work environment is well stocked is a great place to start when tackling this type of food insecurity.  Knowing that you’ll consistently have access to food can help prevent you from “eating it all now because you might not have a chance to in the future.” Also, avoiding any changes to your eating patterns that feel like a complete overhaul or are too restrictive, such as diets, can reduce food insecurity as well.

What experiences have you had with perceived food insecurity triggering unwanted eating?

5 Responses (Add Yours)

  • Rachel Peterson says:

    Traveling! I travel a lot both domestically and internationally for work and over the years I realized that I was constantly perceiving food insecurities… and they sprung up all the time (and at odd times). Instead of making healthy choices, I would opt for ‘safe’ or ‘cheap’ [ i.e., the hotel breakfast is so expensive, I’ll just grab a couple of ‘bars’ to tide me over until lunch/dinner (yikes!)… or… I don’t know what the food in that restaurant (in Nairobi or Tbilisi) will be, I might not like it – I better make sure I have a few candy bars (the ‘healthy ones’, with nuts, LoL! cough, cough) and some crackers in the hotel room, just in case…

    And in case you haven’t noticed, neither airline snack boxes, nor airport kiosks, nor quick-marts throughout the world, carry much of anything fresh or nutritious… <>

    Also, when I travel I feel I have no control over where, what, or how I eat, never mind when (time zone changes included).. and that feeling of not being in control made it much easier to justify eating poorly.

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