Want to eat healthier? Buy food with cash not credit. So say researchers from Cornell. They looked at actual shoppers and "found that shopping carts had a larger proportion of food items rated as impulsive and unhealthy when shoppers used credit or debit cards versus cash."
Apparently, the psychological "pain" of parting with hard earned hard cash causes people to resist temptation at the checkout line. But credit, with its delayed payments and its own temptations to avoid paying off the monthly balance, encourages impulsive purchases.
The researchers suggest that it may not be a coincidence that obesity has been on the rise at the same time that cash use has declined. Jim Surowiecki has a fantastic piece on procrastination for The New Yorker that among other things talks about our need to put up roadblocks against our own tendencies (i.e. remove rather than resist distractions that keep us from our work). It's funny to think that what you pull out of your wallet at the grocery store might represent a roadblock or a primrose path for unhealthy eating.
Photo credit: Andres Rueda