Grab the eggs! Grab the milk! The psychology behind your storm grocery list

January 19, 2019 08:51 AM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) – As soon as there is a threat of bad weather, we all run to the grocery store to pick up the essentials, or what we consider 'essentials.'

Often times they are frivolous food items that we stock up on ahead of a storm.

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Dr. Santo Bentivegna, a New York clinical psychologist located in Rochester, explained that our mad dash through the aisles is more about emotion than it is about survival.

"They'll buy perishable things which is foolish in a survival sense because what if the power goes out? How will you keep the milk cold? How will you cook the eggs?" Dr. Bentivegna said. 

Dr. Bentivegna described what is known in the medical world as "emotional regulation consumption."

"The products people tend to buy bring them pleasure. It brings you a sense of control. You'll see people running to the store and they buy alcohol products, tobacco, or even just salty snacks that give them a sense of pleasure," he said.

He explained that it taps into our fear and our need for control. Since you can't control the weather, you overcompensate by controlling your grocery list.

"People tend to buy things that lessen their stress; things that are high in fat content, high in salt content, not necessarily the most nutritious thing, but it helps bring stress down because the threat of the storm puts stress up. Eating has a calming effect, and also to be in control," he added.

This could explain why so many of us grab the milk; it brings us back to the comfort and nostalgia of childhood when warm milk cured all. 

Dr. Bentivegna added that we exercise the same stress relief in how we react to the storm physically. Most people joke about the severity of an upcoming storm to make the best out of a bad situation and to lessen the stress.


Stephanie Robusto

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