Eating Comes at a Cost

It’s probably no surprise that I love eating healthy. That’s the one reason I’m thankful that I struggled with an eating disorder–it made me more aware of what I was putting in my body and made me passionate about healthy eating. Before my ED, I wasn’t necessarily an unhealthy eater but I was a typical picky kid who liked dessert and candy but also loved fruit and always ate whole grains rather than white bread. After my ED, I’m even more committed to eating in a way that’s healthful and works with my body.

So it makes me really mad to see articles like this, which was in the Denver Post opinion section today. You may have heard about states considering taxes on junk food and sugary sodas. Many people are outraged about it, saying they have every right to eat how they want. Of course you have the freedom to fill your body with crap, but you’ll probably end up paying for it with your health. Even if you’re lucky enough to have a fast metabolism, eating fast food regularly is not good for you at all. I might be in the minority here, but I don’t believe these kinds of foods have any place in anyone’s diet, in moderation or not. I know that sounds extreme, but people need to take responsibility for their own health.

This article claims that obesity is caused by a certain number of calories, not the type of calories. Okay, maybe, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay for healthy-weight people to chow down on chips and soda all the time. The problem with junk food isn’t always the calories, fat or sugar (though usually it is) but the chemicals and cheap fillers found in these products. Yes, they’re cheap but that’s because they’re filled with things you probably wouldn’t knowingly eat. I have no problem with people wanting to enjoy ice cream every once in a while–I just think it would be better if they chose a brand with as few ingredients as possible. And of course, as a vegan, I think it would be great if people would choose nondairy options sometimes, but I don’t want to be one of “those” vegans (aka pushy and judgmental). I realize not everyone is lucky enough to be able to afford organic or even all-natural products, but that’s exactly why I believe this healthy foods vs. unhealthy foods debate is so unfair. Because a lot (not all) healthy options are more expensive.

I’m not sure how I feel about taxing junk food, but I do know that it’s completely unfair to charge so much for healthier food. I know a lot of things, like beans and whole grains, can be bought pretty cheaply in bulk. But good produce can be hard to come by at a decent price. Fruits and veggies should make up the base of everyone’s diet, yet so many Americans can barely get in one serving a day. Sometimes it’s because of the cost, sometimes it’s because they haven’t learned to like veggies but either way, it’s not fair to sell candy bars for $1 when salad greens cost at least three times that. I’m not saying it’s impossible to eat healthy on a budget, just that so many people don’t know how. So I really think there needs to be more dialogue about healthy food choices and how you can spend roughly the same amount on bananas and black beans as you can on potato chips and Coke. And how making a few small changes will add up over time and make people healthier and more vibrant. No, I don’t believe everyone needs to go vegan or vegetarian, but just being more informed about the choices they make in the grocery store will make a world of difference.

How do you feel about this junk food tax issue? Why do you choose to eat healthy?

14 thoughts on “Eating Comes at a Cost

  1. Food is definitely fuel for your body, so you should eat healthy! I’m not one to think someone should *never* eat fast food (I mean, I pretty much never eat it, but that’s my own choice). Splurging sometimes is definitely okay, a lot of people really need that permission to eat fast food or something that might otherwise be off limits once a month or so.

    You can eat two foods with the same calories, such as potato chips or fruits or veggies, but they definitely don’t have the same nutrition and your body doesn’t use those calories in the same way. If you put junk into your body, you can pretty much expect a junky response from your body :(.

    • I wish more people realized this! So many people are hung up on calories, which are of course important, but not as important as nutrients! Someone could probably lose weight eating just chips if they cut out enough calories, but it wouldn’t be healthy or sustainable.

  2. Aja says:

    I just did a presentation on this in school. People focus so much on calories rather than the ingredients. Calories are important, yes, and too many of them can cause obesity, etc, but what the problem really is is all of the chemicals and other bad things in junk food and fast food. I don’t believe they have a place in anyone’s diet either, and I’m for the taxing of sodas and junk food. You can still eat the stuff, taxing it isn’t going to make it unavailable to you, you’ll just have to pay more for it along with whatever you’ll have to pay in health bills because of all your health problems that came from eating the junk food.

  3. I really do agree that personal responsibility and choice is important. There is SO MUCH information out there about healthy eating – it’s not lack of access to information that stops many people from eating healthily, it’s lack of motivation, and lack of finances. Studies also have shown that when the calorie content was shown to people at McD’s they tended to eat MORE calories than when they were not, also look at smoking and alcohol, both of which here in Australia have been taxed out of sight and are now extremely expensive and yet still count for greater expenditure than food!
    Financially I think the taxes will be a real problem. They are not making healthy food more accessible and this is the problem that I see – the way forward isn’t making more things inaccessible and ‘forbidden’ – it’s making good foods more accessible and if possible more attractive. I really think if the government cared enough it would LOWER the price on as much of the ‘real’ and fresh foods as it could and do everything in it’s power to make sure that it was readily available to as many people as possible.

    • I agree completely! Taxing bad foods might not change people’s habits but lowering the costs of healthy food could actually make some people realize that healthy eating isn’t hard to do. It’s just so crazy that something as simple and nutritious as veggies can be so expensive!

      • We don’t have much of this, but we have some schools with ‘kitchen gardens’ now and it’s just awesome. I wish they had it when I was a kid. But it’s teaching kids what to eat, how delicious healthy, real food can be, how awesome it is to actually grow and cook your own food.. and more. I wonder if they have anything similar in the States? I wish there was a lot more of this, it doesn’t seem very widespread yet (funding, space, staffing, etc)

  4. I agree,making healthy food choices goes along with outrageous prices far too often and that’s definitely not a good thing. Everyone is complaining about the people eating fast food & artificial crap,but in the end,there’s not even an option for those of us who are not able to spend god-knows-what on their food! Although I don’t think it would be necessary to “forbid” unhealthier foods,I think that price-problem is really really obvious and needs to be taken care of as soon as possible!

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