Last Wednesday I lost my sense of taste. I could feel it coming on early in the day, the pressure of a sinus infection. I could sense my taste buds start to lose their sensitivity as I had a piece of pizza at work. My nose was starting to run a little and my head started feeling claustrophobic. Later that night, sometime between our dinner of chicken and potatoes and our dessert, it was gone.
This happens 3-4 times every year, usually when the weather changes dramatically and sometimes just because my body is a jerk. One time it happened on a Bahamas cruise in August, right after we finished a delicious salmon dinner and were about to enjoy some chocolate ice cream for dessert. I was furious! When it happens, I know I have about a week before my sinuses settle down and I can taste again.
The first few times, I didn’t really change my eating habits. In fact, I’d keep trying to taste things just to see if I could taste them. Sometimes I’d make myself a bowl of ice cream and a brownie just to say “screw you.”
But this time was different. This time, as I’ve thought about my past experiences with losing arguably my favorite of the five senses, I’ve realized just how stupid I’ve been. This time, rather than trying to continue my life imagining I could taste all these deliciously unhealthy foods I was putting in my body, I focused on giving my body what it needs nutrition wise.
For example, when my wife ordered pizza on Friday, rather than eating my customary 3-4 slices, I ate one slice and a salad. I figured, hey I could use some of the stuff in the pizza, but there’s no need to overdo it. The next day, instead of eating two packs of Ramen for lunch (high in calories, low in nutritional value), I had a bowl of Progresso soup (the nastiest one we had, because who cares if I can’t taste it, right?). For the first time, I realized that these little episodes of losing my taste force me to think more about how the food I’m eating affects my body rather than just how it tastes.
Then I thought, what if we could do something like this for our finances? What if we could somehow turn off that part of our brain that gets excited about sales and shiny things and flashing lights, and instead focus on the questions: Do I really need this? Does this help or hurt me as I’m working toward my financial goals? I’d like to say I’m pretty good at doing that anyway, but there’s still definitely room for improvement.
So how about we both try this out? The next time we come across something we want to buy really bad–as bad as I want to stuff a giant brownie in my face right now–let’s take a step back and think about it from a “financial nutrition” perspective. Is the momentary pleasure really worth paying for it later? Am I lying to myself when I say, “It’s just a little thing?” Sometimes you feel like you can justify the little things. But if you’re not keeping track, those little things add up over time, just like all my little decisions have added up to the 50 lbs. I’ve gained since high school.
Of course, I’m not arguing for anyone to go full minimalist. There’s nothing wrong with a little candy every now and then. But if it’s so much that you’re loading on the credit card debt, or you’re living paycheck to paycheck, it’s time to change.
Losing my sense of taste this time around hasn’t been nearly as frustrating. I’ve enjoyed trying to find ways to eat better and make sure I’m getting my body all the nutrients it needs rather than just the ones that taste yummy. I’m hoping I’ll be able to continue that trend after my taste comes back sometime this week, but with a trip to Hawaii over Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up, the jury’s still out on that 🙂