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What Does a "Sale" Really Cost?

Oct 25, 2017


We talked a bit about environmental control last week—the idea of not having Halloween candy in the house until the day of Halloween to protect ourselves from ourselves. 


It works.


If it’s not there, we won’t eat it.


Then a sweet reader told us (through the comments section—we love comments!!) about the draw to buy the candy because it was on sale . . .


Ah.  The trap of “The Sale”.


Money and food have similar taboos around them.  Restricting and bingeing can be seen with both.  Guilt and regret.    Feelings of scarcity.


So when you combine food with money (for example, a sale on food), you get a powerful pull that’s tricky to recognize, let alone manage.


Advertisers / marketers use this to their advantage and we see things like 2 for 1, “supersize” or free soda or dessert with purchase.  It’s hard to resist . . .


Why get this puny bag of fries when I can get a humongous one for only 25 cents more?


Well, one obesity epidemic later, we see why.


The cost of the sale can be too high.


Restaurants, markets and big box stores use this tactic with great success.  Their goal is to move more product.  Your goal is to prevent weight gain.  They’re at odds.


For restaurants, I call it micro-environmental control. 


Having bigger portions on the plate requires you to use herculean efforts to consume a reasonable portion. 


We lose that battle far too often. 


Not because we are weak, but because it is not reasonable to ask ourselves to resist food that is right in front of us (in our micro-environment). Particularly when we are hungry.  


So, resist supersizing in any way. Limiting the amount of food on your plate, whether at home or out, is the best way to ensure success in eating the right amount—not too much. 


Supermarket dangers can be more subtle.


If you get 2 for 1, that means you will eat both.  Eventually. 


Now, if that’s for the grapes you were going to buy anyway—great.  Lucky day!


But more often than not, it’s for something else.   Cereal, chips, candy.  Mostly packaged or processed foods.  Not usually our best choices.


Going to the market with a shopping list can help us resist the temptation.  And ultimately save money—no extra purchases = less money spent.


The whole premise of a big box store is to “buy more, save more”.  When it comes to toilet paper, it makes sense (if you have the room to store it!), because you will use it all eventually. 


When it comes to food, I challenge the utility.  Because you will use it all, eventually. 


Trying to finish 45 packs of chips or even hundreds of blueberries before they go bad puts an emphasis on eating more.  It’s the definition of poor environmental control.


Buy household supplies at big box stores and leave the food to your local market.


Make yourself immune to the call of "The Sale" by recognizing its real cost.  Keep your health/weight goals in mind and remember how environmental control and portion control factor into your success.


It will often mean resisting "The Sale". 


When it comes to food, consider paying more to get less. 


Your thighs will thank you.