How paying with plastic can make you fat
By Allie Johnson
With cards, you just put the stuff in the basket, walk over and swipe the card. It takes so little thought.
|-- David Just
However, researchers saw students make similarly healthy food choices when they were given a debit card that could only be used to purchase foods that were good for them, and also were given additional cash they could use to buy anything they wanted, Just says.
3. Limit your funds. If you walk into a store with only $50 in your wallet, you'll probably spend less than if you go in with a credit card that has a $5,000 limit, experts say. "People who have credit have more money to spend, so they tend to spend more freely," Just says. So, you could nix the credit card for your food purchases and instead load up a debit card with a set amount each week or month. Once the money is gone, it's gone.
"That's a modern incarnation of the old budget trick where people would take cash out and put it in an envelope," Just says. While it likely would not be as effective as using cash, it's still a way to trick yourself into staying on track with your purchases, experts say.
4. Make a grocery list, and stick to it. If you make a grocery list just so you won't forget anything, it probably won't help you in your resolution to avoid unhealthy foods, Just says. In other words, you'll probably remember the cabbage you need to make your veggie soup, but you might also grab those cream puffs you don't need on your hips. However, if you make a list of nutritious items and decide ahead of time not to buy anything else, Just says it probably will help a lot.
"You need to make your decisions before you even walk in the door," says Lisa Galper, a Phoenix psychologist and expert in the psychology of weight loss. That can mean making a grocery list, looking at a menu online and deciding what to order before a business lunch or even vowing to order only one pastry before you walk into a donut shop, she says.
5. Put a lock on temptation. First it was fast food restaurants and now more vending machines are starting to take credit cards, according to Capital Processing Network. So experts say consumers need to think ahead about ways to avoid temptation or make it harder for themselves to pull out a card, swipe and munch.
One tactic is to avoid the temptation. For example, Just says he tries not to walk past a vending machine that takes credit cards right down the hall from his office.
Another option? Lock your wallet in your desk drawer, he suggests. Similarly, Galper recommends locking your purse in your car trunk if driving past fast food restaurants makes you crave a greasy burger. "No one wants to pull into the drive through, put the car in park, go around to the trunk and get their purse out," Galper says.
For the same reasons that plastic can make it easy for consumers to get into debt, credit and debit cards also can promote unhealthy eating habits, Galper says: "People tend to spend and eat mindlessly, so it's important to be mindful."See related: Too much fast food can be hazardous to your credit, Beyond couponing: How big families can cut their food budgets