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?