Tag: eating

The Marginal Utility of Saving – When is it not worth it?

marginal utility of happinessI’m sure that we’ve all encountered scenarios where we go out of our way to either save money or get a better deal. I’ve certainly had to decide between waiting in a two-hour line to purchase train tickets with credit card versus using a machine that only takes cash (I used the machine).

Likewise, I came across the discount bakery aisle at the local grocery store yesterday. A box of day-old twelve donuts were discounted to $2. In contrast, a normally priced donut was 60c apiece.

That’s right. These are the first-world problems that I have to deal with! I could either get a dozen day-old donuts for approximately the same price as three fresh donuts!

How much happiness would I have with a dozen partially stale donuts versus three fresh ones? For me, the marginal happiness I experience is simply having ONE donut. I would be happy having one donut, saving the calories, and be done with it.

Which option did I eventually choose?

I bought the dozen discounted donuts!


Arguably I could have done without the extra calories, but I also had extra mouths to feed.

What would you have done in this situation?


Happy July 4th to everyone!

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(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

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Your Waist Grows Along With The Size Of Your Wallet

Most of us have gone through our lives eating microwaved instant noodles at some point, whether in college or later in our careers. Doing so was an exercise in convenience and frugality—how else can you possibly pack in so much sodium and fat in such an inexpensive package? I remember being able to buy 10-packs of instant noodles for $1 at Big Lots years ago, and boy did I take advantage of those sales.

Unfortunately our experience with compromising health with convenience with frugality puts us at a disadvantage. The fact that we were ever willing to consume something that is undoubtedly unhealthy suggests that we are likely to do so again in the future. Wait a second, how is that argument valid you ask? It is human nature that we fall back onto our habits, especially if we are at times of stress. I’ve done it. I see plenty of Hospitalists, Surgeons, and Radiologists do it. The dozen or so of my colleagues who I’ve inquired about eating “junk food” admit that they did it in their younger years. The few that don’t interestingly did not ever do so in childhood either. They all actually had either private chefs growing up or ate organic foods even twenty years ago.

Your Likelihood of Eating Unhealthy Foods Will Go Up

Doctor lifestyles are notorious for allowing us to consume garbage. Many of our clinic days are packed to the rim and encroach into our lunchtime. By the time the morning clinic ends, we are starting our afternoon clinics. What do we do for sustenance? How about the bag of chips that came with the sandwich we ordered from the deli? Hell, it’s questionable whether that turkey-avocado wrap at the deli is even healthy (read: high salt and low fiber).

Do we eat healthier at home then? That’s debatable as well. In a two-person working household with two kids, there is little time to take care of anything in the house, let alone meals. How about take out pizza, fast-food, or fried chicken? These are filling to you stomach as well as your arteries. 

Do you think that you’d eat healthier when you are at a conference, meeting, or even family vacation? I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a conference dinner meeting held at a salad bar. Think steakhouses, Italian pasta houses, and seafood. Guess what? You can actually afford to eat at these places!

You Are The Only One Who Can Direct Your Health

At this point in your career, you have all of the reasons to get out of shape: long work hours limiting exercise, plentiful conferences with opportunities to expand your waist, and busy work days conducive to unhealthy eating.  

As difficult as it sounds to the patient when his doctor tells him to lose weight and cut back on sweets, it is equally challenging for us to do the same. It is easy for us to come up with excuses not to stay healthy, but it is the best thing that we can do for our patients. Ironically what I have found to work for me is what many of the self-proclaimed “help gurus” suggest: gradual lifestyle modification.

Try it out yourself. Can you go to sleep 30 minutes earlier every evening to get more rest? How about allocating 10 minutes of your day to walking? After you achieve your mini-victories, move on to bigger goals. Stay persistent, and stay hungry.

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