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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Consumption Smoothing: Financial and Gustatory

More meditations on Funny About Money's succumbing to temptation--in the guise of a hotdog. My first response--echoed by several others--was carry something with you!

I myself was last on a diet, back in the late 60s. EVERYONE was on a diet then, including my parents. The diet of choice was Atkins, which involved consuming huge quantities of meat. Since everyone was doing it, I did too. I got so dizzy, I tripped down a flight of stairs and realized I was not the dieting type.

Interestingly, my mother, now 80 years old, is STILL on a diet. She has been on diets ever since I can remember. My late father, who was a tubby child, was also always on diets. My mother's weight goes down now and again, but then goes up--higher than it was before. Her diet of choice is the modern incarnation of Atkins.

I too have been gradually gaining weight--first in my 40s and then a bit more in my 50s. But I am still OK. I am afraid that if I go on a diet, I will end up weighing as much as my mother, who is 4 or 5 sizes bigger than I am!

Sometimes I think you should just eat what you eat, if it is fairly healthy, and forget about it. That seems in line with something I read about finance by an academic, Lawrence Kotlikoff. He recommended "consumption smoothing." Here is his book for the non-expert, which I took out of the library a while back.

His basic point (I THINK) is to maximize the "use" of your resources through your life--but in a "smooth" way. So, you might not have refinanced your house during the boom years to buy a boat and a designer kitchen. You might have smoothly spent your way through--perhaps--a period of unemployment.

I guess Kotlikoff reveals the wisdom of Aristotle (Nichomachean Ethics) once more: to try to get to the point between too much and too little.

So too with dieting.

P.S. Granola bars, as my readers noted, are really candy-substitutes. My "granola bars" are usually peanuts and raisins in a zip-lock bag.

Do you agree with the concept of consumption smoothing?


Jenna said...

I'm not a big diet fan either. However, I do try and replace food cravings with healthier options. For example, I trade a bowl of ice cream for two bowls of mixed frozen berries. I get the cold craving and get full without the sugars and calories.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Jenna--I used to be able to polish off a half gallon of ice cream in one sitting. Luckily, I too am usually satisfied by yogurt or frozen fruit these days.

Funny about Money said...

Well, the truth is, I haven't felt a need to diet until recently. I was always a lithe young thing. Then a pretty sexy middle-aged thing. Now I fear that the encroaching accumulation of age isn't healthy. Get on the high side of your BMI range, and you're at risk of diabetes, heart conditions, god knows what else. Plus you look awful in just about any clothing you can fit, which isn't much clothing.

I did try Atkins with success, and it is true: a year later I was fatter than before.

Now I'd just like to find a way to eat more or less normally without continuing to gain the pound or so that creeps on every few months. If the theory is right, that your metabolism slows with age and so you don't need as much food as you've always been used to eating, then it follows that you oughta be able to keep on eating the things you love, only in less volume.

LOL! Hot dogs are not among the things I love. Take in too much volume of the things you love, and pretty quick you're so hungry you'll eat anything! ;-)

Frugal Scholar said...

@Funny--I'm creeping up too. One of my colleagues had great success with Weight Watchers--the meetings really help.