"survival mode" sundae

A new study suggests that if you find yourself reaching high-cal sweets instead of fruit in tough economic times, it may not be simply run-of-the-mill lack of willpower to blame but your survival instincts.

Researchers from the University of Miami found that people tend to pick highly caloric foods over low-calorie foods when led to believe that resources are scarce. They felt that bad news about the stock market or high unemployment rates can trigger that survival mode.

Said researcher Anthony Salerno,when someone is in this mindset, they feel their resources are in jeopardy, so they may compensate by choosing calorie-rich, life-sustaining foods.

So how can you avoid falling into this trap?

  • Know your personal nutritional needs—and your weaknesses.
  • Keep a food diary to help you stay on track.
  • Be aware of the subtle tricks and cues food companies use to make you want to eat their products.
  • Focus on feeding yourself well, not on getting the most bang for your buck.
  • Exercise. It’s a great stress-reliever.

What do you do when the going gets tough? 

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