It’s hard enough trying to pay all your bills on time, to say nothing of feeding your household while trying to eke out a little fun now and then to make life easier. As if the money problems didn’t ruin your mood, the struggling economy can negatively impact your health in ways that can have long-term effects.
One way the economy can affect your health is by influencing your food choices. A s tudy by Research Laboratories at the Fondazione di ricerca e cura Giovanni Paolo II — Catholic University of Campobasso in Italy warns of an additional impact from an unstable economy.
Researchers found that households with lower incomes did not adhere to the Mediterranean dietary pattern. This diet emphasizes healthy food choices, like fruits, vegetables and fresh fish. It has been associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the United States and worldwide.
However, rising food prices along with the other effects of a weak economy make adherence to this healthier diet more difficult. Processed foods, by their nature, are cheaper. When left with fewer options, individuals will opt for foods that are not part of the Mediterranean diet, thus, excluding themselves from its health benefits.
Another consequence identified by the study was a higher rate of obesity. Fresh produce offers nutrient-dense options that contain fewer calories. However, these foods are more expensive typically than processed foods that are energy-dense options.
Other factors certainly may play a role, such as stress and stress eating, smoking and alcohol use. All of these behaviors can increase during times of financial struggles. These facts say nothing about other consequences that can affect your health, such as an increased risk of chronic disease, high blood pressure and sleep disorders.
This study identified a few of the negative impacts of an unstable economy on human health. There are other ways you can fight back and gain control of your health. To get the most out of your food dollar, consider the following:
Check out the farmer’s market.
Stock up on frozen veggie/fruit sale items.
If you thought about starting a garden, this may be the time. You can even grow some plants indoors to have fresh produce the year round.
Above all, remember to take care of yourself. During times of stress, give yourself outlets to get away. A walk in nature can do a great deal for your mental health. You want to give yourself regular breaks from stress so it doesn’t overwhelm you and lead you to unhealthy behaviors like overeating.
Staying healthy will help you back on your feet. Remember, this too shall pass. Things will get better.