By Coach Mel
When I was a kid I remember my mom saying, “I just hate spending money on food.” Every single time we left the grocery store she would utter these words. “It’s such a waste; you buy it and then it’s gone.”
Hearing anything weekly as a child leaves an impression of some sort. I took with me that food was a waste of money and tried to buy as cheaply as I could once I was responsible for purchasing my own groceries starting in college. While this is not a blog about all the unhealthy things we do to our bodies in college, suffice it to say, I didn’t need to add shitty food to the list.
I believe a lot of things have led to the degeneration of our food and its sources but I think that two things can take credit for 90% of the problem: time and money. We are a culture that has become obsessed with the novelty of hoarding both of those things. We want instant gratification as cheaply as possible with everything. This is admittedly helpful in some arenas (Google is way better than the Dewey Decimal System) but I am certain it is of detriment to our health when related to food.
Humans used to spend their entire day hunting and gathering food only to spend the rest of their days preparing it. It was everything. I am not suggesting we start roaming our streets for squirrels or going into our neighbors’ yards and stealing from their gardens; I realize times have changed and we must adapt. But must we adapt so poorly?
I think about this concept of money as it relates to food now and realize that my mom’s line of thought is definitely in the majority. Why else would dollar menus and 5/$5 frozen pizza specials exist? Well, they exist for two reasons: 1) we don’t want to spend money on food and 2) we don’t want to spend time preparing it.
While it belongs on some sort of inspirational poster or stitched on a pillow I am a firm believer in the idea that “We have time for what is important to us.” Is keeping caught up with a TV show important every week? If so, we watch it. Is hitting happy hour after work important? If so, we do it. Is getting our gym class in important? If so, we go. But food is getting left behind and what we have left is unrecognizable ingredients in large abundance.
A lot of times we are not willing or can not give a lot of both - time and money. As opposed to the entire day people used to spend on their food, now, we spend minutes of our day. I belive we can create more time if we want but I understand that money doesn’t just appear. So if we don’t have much money we need to be willing to carve out even more time. I was on food stamps for the first two years of opening the gym and so while I did not have a lot of money to spend on food (or time for that matter) I made extra time and found the best quality sources for less money or spent time going to three different grocery stores because each had better deals on X,Y and Z. We make what is important to us work. Our health and our families health should be important to us. It just should be.
“You buy it and then it is gone” I am sorry, Linda Sher (mom), I love you but that is simply a terrible thing to teach your child. You buy it and then it goes into your body and it either nourishes it or it depletes it. That, day after day, year after year, leads to health or disease. That, decade after decade leads to a thriving happy life or a life spent going from doctor to doctor taking medication after medication to feel a semblance of health. This sounds dramatic but I believe it to be 100% true. Sure, other things can lead to disease but our food, what we choose to put in our bodies, is what we have control over.
Money and time. How do you want to spend yours? I sometimes cringe at the fact that I could sit on my couch and have my food delivered to me. I would only have to walk from the couch to the door to get a meal. I don’t have to run an animal down, I don't have to gather all day, I don’t have to do anything. While this luxury can be awesome once in awhile, I am sort of embarrassed by how easy, in terms of movement and “food” availability, our lives in America have become. Humans would spend all day expending energy trying to catch food to reenergize with. We can go to a grocery store and fill our carts with calories without expending any more energy than walking. We can even have our groceries delivered because “we have no time” to even shop anymore. But what calories will we fill our carts with or have in the bags delivered to us? Nutrient dense calories or empty ones?
It starts one person at a time. Buy local and organic as much as possible, stop funding the large corporations feeding us “food-like” products. Prepare your meals. If you have kids bring them in on the process... it always tastes better when you’ve (they’ve) cooked it. Pay attention to your body; how do you feel after you’ve eaten a Dorito vs. anything nutrient dense. Unsure where to start? You’re not alone. Just remember time and money. How do you want to spend yours? You have to give up a little or a lot of both for optimal health but I promise you, it pays off.