Unemployed? Then Your Health Is Probably at Risk Too!

Amy Kuras
6

If you're lucky, you've never known what it's like to be unemployed. Especially in this crappy economy, though, I'd be willing to bet that more people than not have either cashed a few unemployment checks or know someone who has.

So it should come as no surprise that unemployment takes a toll on your health. Not only do you often lose health coverage, so doctor visits become an emergency-only kind of thing, but your funds are limited, so things like gym memberships are out of the question to pay for.

Unemployment provides a hit to your diet as well. Among people who are at highest risk for unemployment, each percentage point of unemployment in their state is associated with a 2 to 4 percent lower consumption of fruit and vegetables and an 8 percent reduction in consumption of salad.

Whoa. I live in Michigan, which has the second-highest unemployment rate in the country and we're already fat ... it's amazing the stores are selling any produce at all.

Researchers ascribe these nutritional findings to two things: One, lack of income. There's a perception that fruits and vegetables are expensive, but in fact, if you replace processed foods with more fruit, veggies, and beans and buy frozen vegetables as well as fresh, you'll actually see a drop in your grocery bill.

The other problem is depression. If you're feeling blue, worthless, and anxious over your jobless state, you're not thinking how great a carrot is going to taste. You're thinking about cheesy, creamy, heavy, or sweet comfort foods. And honestly, when you're away from coworkers who might give you a hard time about your fourth cookie, down it goes.

Experts are recommending income support and counseling to unemployed people to keep them from slipping into really unhealthy habits, but I think the most helpful thing would be mental health counseling. When you are dealing with all the crapload of negative feelings that unemployment brings, finding ways to boost your self-worth is probably the most important thing you can do.

If you are or ever have been unemployed, how have you kept a positive attitude and eating healthfully?


Image via Clementine Gallot/Flickr

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