Is ‘Black Friday’ syndrome making you overweight?

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. 

By Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach

Here it is, the end of November, and if you are reading this you must have successfully survived yet another “Black Friday”.  The most dreaded day of holiday shopping, this event signals the beginning of what some might consider the most gluttonous time of the year.

Retailers go overboard in their advertising campaigns for Black Friday, extolling the virtues of untold sales, prices that are too good to be true, convincing us that we absolutely must buy things we otherwise would never have even dreamed were necessary….but because the price is right, we feel compelled to indulge and comply.  For anyone, myself included, who has ever bought into one of these Black Friday sales gimmicks, the truth comes staring at us about a month later, when we realize that, no matter how great the price seemed at the time, we really didn’t NEED that item after all!

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Advertisers don’t stop at Black Friday with this sort of concept.  The ubiquitous “combo meal”, available at just about any fast food chain, operates under a similar set of parameters; by grouping foods commonly purchased together and offering them at a discounted rate, the unsuspecting public is unwittingly consuming more food than they really need, or in some cases, want.  According to a study published in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, the average person adds at least 100 calories by choosing the value meal or combo-meal as opposed to ordering each item a la carte.  The reason is simple and strikingly clear: to save money, you end up ordering more food than you wanted to eat, simply the cost was more attractive. 

While 100 extra calories might not seem significant, think about how often this phenomenon occurs. If you purchase a value meal just once a week, which totals an extra 5,200 calories in a year, you have just added 1.5 pounds to the number you see on the scale. While saving money might feel better in the short term, much like on Black Friday, taking the long-term view will enable you to see the true dynamic in terms of needs versus wants.  After a few months, you will begin to appreciate having taken the high road and exercised restraint in the face of a seemingly great offer!