Healthy Eating: Changing the Way We Think

I’m back on my health kick. There is no reason why I shouldn’t be taking better care of myself. But with bathing suit weather here, I feel like it’s now or never to get in shape.

I have started buying organic food again. Although this time of year makes it easy to find fresh fruit and vegetables at local farmer’s markets, other organic foods are harder to come by. My local grocery store stocks very little options. I even struggle finding specific items at the bigger specialty markets in Winston-Salem. This makes shopping tedious, difficult, and somewhat expensive.

What I also do not like about “healthier” food is that it takes longer to prepare meals. After spending hours driving around looking for key items, the last thing I want to do is spend another hour in the kitchen making a recipe. By the time it is all said and done, I would be too tired to eat! Who is with me on this?

Frustrations are common when I’m first getting back on the healthy track. It’s like the universe knows just what to toss my way to keep me from doing better. It’s aware of my low tolerances and my lack of patience. It takes a lot of focus and determination to fight past distractions in the first few weeks.

As I was shopping yesterday, I could feel myself getting discouraged with organic food selections and cost. When I walked away from a healthy item because of its price, it dawned on me why the USA is so overweight…

Restaurants, grocery stores, and food manufacturers have caught on to our struggles. Most fast food chains offer a reduced-price menu to help those of us on a budget. Between buffets, drive-thru windows, and deliveries, we can literally have dinner in under ten minutes! Many of the items featured in sales fliers and coupon inserts are less-than-nutritional… but they’re non-perishable, quick, and easy. There is literally something for everyone’s convenience; soccer moms, single parents, bachelors, etc. Why bother with the tedious and pricey stuff?

I have a friend, Ginny, who lives in Haiti. She spent the majority of her life in Ohio. She went to Haiti on a three-week mission trip in 2008 and returned in 2009 to work as a missionary nurse. She now lives there full time with her daughter, running a mission that she founded, and is getting married at the end of this month. She has a great blog that I encourage you to follow. Recently, she blogged about how much it costs to purchase “American” food in Haiti. It was eye-opening to see that Tide laundry detergent costs the equivalent to $50.00 United States dollars, a bag of frozen chicken wings – $56 USD, a pint of fresh strawberries – $23 USD, and a box of Pillsbury cake mix – $5 USD.

The following week, Ginny posted a blog showing how much Haitian food she can buy at the open market on very little cash. Everything shown in the photo below, along with transportation costs, was only $12.00 USD!


(Photo Credit: GinnyinHaiti.com)

My point? It does seem like the United States has it backwards. Fresh food, healthy food, and locally-grown food should be sold at a muore affordable price. It should be abundant and easily attainable. There should be more incentives for farmers and less tax breaks for franchises and corporations. But at the same time, when you compare the price of fresh fruit and veggies from the farmer’s market to the price of a combo meal at restaurant, the fresh food actually does costs less!*

I’m sure you are thinking, “Even if the food becomes more convenient and less expensive to purchase, it is still to much work to prepare it.” I am guilty of thinking that way too. Sometimes I’m willing to go out of my way or spend more just to save time in the kitchen. But again, Ginny’s blog reminded me that it is all about organizing priorities, avoiding laziness, and being grateful for all that we have here in the States.

Ginny lives in a third-world country. She once lived in a shack that didn’t have a kitchen (she had to literally cook meals over an open flame) or running water (they caught rain in barrels) and she went nearly a year without transportation. These are everyday struggles for many Haitians. Yet, I am pouting over how difficult it is or how long it will take to prepare a meal? In a kitchen that is equipped with above-average amenities? How messed up are my priorities, and the priorities of many people in this country? We would rather jeopardize our health for the sake of a few minutes and a few dollars. Why? What on my schedule is more important than making sure I am healthy enough to fulfill my giant to-do list? And what in my budget am I spending money on that I can do without? Because I am certain there is something… like monthly pedicures… that I could give up if money is so tight that I can’t buy healthy food.

It’s time to stop making excuses. Our health and well-being IS a priority! There is no one else capable of managing it but ourselves. We are worth the time and the money. If you are struggling with the same obstacles, I invite you to join me in an effort to eat more organic foods and prepare fresh meals. It’s the healthiest way to lower calories, fat, and sodium intakes. Don’t see what you need in your neighborhood grocery store? Ask your manager if they can order it. If the demand for healthier food increases, I feel like more could be available and costs could come down. Who knows… if we start allowing time in our hectic day to cook, we may even enjoy it. That, in itself, could lower our stress levels!

Let’s push past the frustrations. Let’s reconsider our priorities. Let’s change the way we think about being healthy!

*If you’re interested in reading more about the comparison of fresh food to fast food, check out Mark Bittman’s article, Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?