The ADHD money diaries: Buying food then ordering takeout

I'd be embarrassed to work out the number of times over the years that I went through the supermarket, and picked up random incoherent ingredients that I thought could make dinners for the week. A couple of days later when it came to actually making a meal, I would tell myself that the food would keep, only to find it rotten in the fridge by the weekend. I don't think I am alone....

Impulse buying food

Impulse buying with ADHD is linked to the lovely dopamine spike you get from buying something you think you need now. What gives more of a dopamine spike than delicious food?! All the best intentions of having a healthy meal go out the window when we're tired after a long day. The thought of that first bite of salty, cheesy pizza wins out over a home cooked meal.

There is something insidious about impulse eating, because you can't just stop eating. We need to eat to live, therefore avoiding the triggers is almost impossible. The challenge of avoiding this impulse takes a monstrous amount of willpower.

Mental exhaustion

I've noticed for me my impulses get worse when I am mentally tired, like after a long day at work. Having to force ourselves to focus takes up a huge amount of energy. By the time it comes to cook, we are so overstimulated that the thought of pulling out the pots and pans is enough to pick up the phone and order some food.

Make it easy for yourself

Knowledge is power. Knowing that we have a proclivity to make poor decisions when tired, or when we need to make a decision to cook in a vulnerable state can give us the keys to avoiding it as much as possible.

Here are some tips that can really help reduce that takeout bill:

  1. Meal prep and freeze: When ever you get a blast of energy, cook big batches and freeze them. At least then when you need to make a tired decison, you can reach for the frozen meal and shove it in the microwave.
  2. Try meal kits: If you can afford it, try subscribing to meal kits. First, it saves waste as you only have exactly what you need for each meal. Second, it makes it easy, just follow the steps and you have your meal. Takes thinking out of it.
  3. Set rules: Sometimes we need simple frameworks to help decision making. Say you will only have a X takeaways on a particular day(s). Then at least it is thought through in advance and you can really enjoy your treat when you get it.
  4. Delete the apps: Just make it harder for yourself. Delete all the apps from your phone that allow you to order takeout. Putting some hurdles in the way can make a big difference. Friction is your friend here.
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