Beat the urge to splurge

Gone are the days when we could go out on weekends, buy whatever we need, eat all we want, do a little window shopping and head home.
For representational purposes
For representational purposes

BENGALURU: Gone are the days when we could go out on weekends, buy whatever we need, eat all we want, do a little window shopping and head home.

Thanks to the pandemic, this activity is being reenacted almost every day, through various e-commerce websites and food delivery platforms.

Besides ordering food every single day, Vedprakash Rout comes across multiple advertisements while scrolling through social media.

“The message of the ads revolves around productivity, and seeing them makes me want to buy things that I don’t need but feel that they will be of use because we are stuck at home. Till now, I have bought four headphones, a mechanical keyboard, knife sharpener, and more. They are just lying around the house now,” says the 28-year-old software engineer, adding, “Junk food in the name of snacks is what majority of my online grocery orders consist of.”

Part of data researcher Agrata Chowdhury’s savings goes towards buying cosmetics.

“Before Covid struck, I was busy throughout the week. But now, I am near my phone all the time and subconsciously open these apps,” says the Bengalurean.

Offering a solution to curb the habit of over-spending, Mrin Agarwal, founder, Finsafe, says, “It is important to limit expenses to 30 per cent of your take-home income. Within this, set a lifestyle budget and stick to it. Give yourself a 24-hour buffer before you decide to buy something. This allows you to reduce impulsive purchases.” 

Dr Athulya Jayakumar, consultant clinical psychologist, Columbia Asia Hospital Sarjapur Road, says, “A lot of habits that people would engage in for comfort, coping and pleasure are currently unavailable. The first half of the pandemic brought in a surge of activities such as Instagram trends, Zoom calls and so on, but now, people are unable to follow through at this point. Hence, ordering in food and indulging in shopping are being sought out to soothe themselves.”

A helpful strategy, she adds, is to delay the urge by 30 minutes or one hour.

“In most cases, the intensity of the craving will reduce and rational thought will return,” she says.

With city restaurants opening themselves up for direct orders now, the demand for outside food exists more than ever.

As a result, Dr Pavithra, internal medicine, Columbia Asia Hospital, Hebbal, has seen patients coming in with acute gastro-enteritis problems during the lockdown.

“The major reason is the high sodium content in food. It would eventually lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol with obesity and increase in blood sugar levels,” she says. 

Dr Esther Sathiaraj, head, clinical nutrition and dietetics, HCG Cancer Hospital, adds that it can further contribute to weight gain, abdominal obesity and health diseases linked to obesity such as fatty liver, metabolic syndrome, dyslipidemia, hypertension, diabetes and certain cancers.

“Outside food should be taken with caution. Foodborne infections and unsafe food can further weaken our immune system while we are trying to build immunity during the pandemic,” she says. Dr Pavithra has two key suggestions: “Regular exercise and eating home-cooked food is recommended.” 

Spending in check

  • Limit overall expenses to 30 per cent of your total take-home income

  • Within the 30 per cent kept aside for expenses, set a lifestyle budget and make sure you stick to it

  • Give yourself a 24-hour buffer before you decide to buy something

  • Instead of ordering food, eating home-cooked food is recommended

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The New Indian Express