Food and Money, Part I


A month ago I stood in the middle of my favorite clothing store completely buzzed. Not on alcohol. Not on food this time. Simply put, I was high on spending.

With a change of weight comes a change in wardrobe. Trips to Ann Taylor Loft, Lucy, Gap and more. Perhaps I took it a step further, when my spree included more than just clothing stores, but reached into the likes of Target, Zappos & even the mundane Walgreens!

It reminded me of my moments with food: never being able to get enough. Whatever “enough” was in that moment.

In Geneen Roth’s book “Lost and Found” she tells the story of how she and her husband had lost their entire life savings in the Bernie Madoff scandal. According to Geneen, our relationship with food can mirror that of our relationship with money.

At the time I read this, I thought, “Oh how interesting, but this doesn’t apply to me.”

Two years later I’ve gone from binge eating towards what could be termed “binge spending.”

Food & Money: Permitters & Restrictors

Geneen states that there are two types of common behaviors when dealing with money and food: permitters and restrictors.

Permitters will spend money like it is going out of style. They are impulsive and want to fulfill a craving for something they have their eye on right now. Permitters allow all types of food to be eaten, but without any mindfulness or attunement to their body’s signals of hunger and fullness. Mindless spending.

Restrictors, on the other hand, are very tight with their money, as well as with their food. Hoarding and self-deprivation with both food and money are common themes.

Hi, my name is Jill. And I am a permitter.

My 13-year old loves to buy new clothes that make her look good and looking good is important. I didn’t grow up with brand new clothes, so my 13-year-old girl says that that I DESERVE all the cute clothes I can get. The problem is that there are about four shopping malls with in a 20-minute drive of my house.

My 13-year old loved dessert. She would tell sad stories of growing up without desserts as a child, except on the weekends. Horrors! But now Culvers, Ben & Jerry’s, Dairy Queen & Cheesecake Factory are all easily accessible & available to me. There is no need to fear that dessert couldn’t be obtained in my daily life.

But it goes back to the question posed above. What is enough? And is it really about the food or the clothes? Clearly, I am not deprived of either.

The patterns of compulsive behavior are due to core beliefs about ourselves. Like many women, one of the core beliefs I have identified is that I am not enough.

It’s never about the food or the money. It’s about the layer underneath the craving or urge to eat or spend.

Are you a permitter or restrictor in your relationship with food and money?

5 responses to “Food and Money, Part I”

  1. Amy says:

    Wonderful post! I’ve also long noticed the connection between food and money. I seem to ping pong between being a permitter and a restrictor in my eating and my spending, so my goal is to rein in both extremes and seek that elusive happy medium.

    • Thanks, Amy! I have been a restrictor during my dieting days, but right now I’m going through a permitting phase. I guess the question I will continue to ask myself is, “How will this decision feel in a few hours from now?”

  2. Louise says:

    This was enlightening as my spending has increased along with eating. I truly enjoy shopping and am a coupon/discount type shopper, never doing hundreds of dollars on a single item. Just volume. Apparently my being a permitter wasn’t completely acknowledged, so I need to work on that. Thanks.

  3. Lori says:

    Wow do I ever connect with this! I noticed the similarities between my relationship with food and my relationship with money some time ago. Having recently come out of bankruptcy I will describe myself as a recovering permitter financially. Food wise-I’m a permitter who could benefit from a little more restriction. Or maybe a little less permission. 🙂 Thanks for the great post-I’ll be following your blog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

About the Author