One of the pages I follow on Facebook is Mother Jones magazine. They have progressive, thought-provoking content. Yesterday they had an interactive tool on their magazine’s web site - Is Your Food Spending Normal? I’m a sucker for these types of quizzes. I also am competitive – I like to win. So (insert frowny face here) I was at first bummed at seeing that I, picturing myself as Ms. Frugal (I am Scottish and Dutch, after all, nationalities touted for frugality) spends too much on food.
The me who can be negative and judgmental had a little snippy remark to self about comparing checkbook size and waist size. But then I thought “Oh wait! Create Positive Change! How can I make this into a GOOD story?”
While I am the first to admit that my food expenditures are not just on apples, broccoli and cod, and that Ms. No-to-Big-Corporations has a robust Starbucks addiction going, I DO think that eating high quality, nutritious food is part of the reason why I spend more —- on Food.
On health care? not so much.
And I think there’s a correlation. I had asked my friend Kay, when she worked as a nurse in our local hospital, what percentage of people were in the hospital due to lifestyle factors as opposed to genetics or accidents. At that point she said something like “over 75%”. When she and I discussed this again last week, she said she thinks it is well over 90%. This 2005 article “Only 3 percent of Americans live a healthy lifestyle” would seem to substantiate that. Some common diseases caused by lifestyle (nutrition, exercise, smoking) are outlined in this recent Livestrong article. And though this article is from 2003, I suspect the depressing facts and figures on how obesity contributes to health and health care spending have gotten more depressing, not less.
I could provide a million links, but you get my point. As I’ve written here before, when people point out that it costs money to eat healthfully, I always say that I’d rather spend money now on good food than later on cancer or diabetes care.
Does eating healthfully guarantee that I won’t develop heart disease, cancer, diabetes or other lifestyle-related leading causes of death? No, life does not come with guarantees other than death itself. But if articles like this one are correct (and if you read just ONE link from today’s blog, make it this one) you can save lots of money for yourself – and the government (as you may well get these diseases once you’re on Medicare – the effects of bad choices often take a few decades to kick in).
So – the Create Positive Change me DOES need to look at some of the unhealthy food choices I make with all that excessive spending (can I justify a Snickers bar? I’m thinking no. The Starbucks, however, shall remain). But I can feel good about the choices I make – food, my gym membership, even reading Prevention magazine to stay motivated – that are helping me save money – both now and in the future – on health care.
How about you? How did you do on MoJo’s “Is Your Food Spending Normal” quiz? Do you feel okay about the results? Or do you need to make some changes? I really want to know!