For many of us, a conversation about eating healthy is usually awkward. Eating healthy is a good thing no doubt but we just never seem to do it. It would seem like switching from an unhealthy diet to a healthy diet should be very easy but it’s really not.
We’ll go out on a limb and vouch for everyone; most people, if not everyone, would love to eat healthy, but for different reasons, we just can’t.
The good news here is that you are not alone. But the not-so-good news is that the odds might be against you and below, you will find 7 reasons why.
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Time is the most common barrier in the way of eating healthy. The world is fast-paced these days and we have limited free time. It could be that working multiple jobs leaves you with little time or it could just be something else.
Why does time matter? Well, unlike fast foods, which qualify as unhealthy foods, the preparation of healthy meals takes more time. It takes time to shop for the ingredients, it takes time to prepare the ingredients for cooking, and it takes time to cook the meals too.
Especially in the current climate, it’s just so easy to those of us working form home to head into the kitchen and snack on things we normally might not have easy access too.
The current average working period in the U.S is about 34 – 35 hours per week. But some people work for up to 50 hours per week. For people who do up to 50 hours weekly, there is probably little or no time to head to the market to shop for the right ingredients.
It’s even worse if these people have to commute over long distances to work every day. In these types of cases, the 50 hours working period would not be the only problem.
If you work from Mondays to Fridays for 50 hours, that’s about 10 hours per day. If you have to spend 1 hour to work and 1 hour back home. That’s basically 12 hours of your day gone. Of the remaining 12 hours, you have to sleep and prepare for work the next day.
Now, many of us are working from home. Going to the grocery store might mean having to get dressed, load the kids up in the car, etc. Then there are the risks of going out as well.
So you are left with the choice of eating the processed or canned foods already in your pantry, or braving the world for fresh ingredients.
If you have a family, you may have to tend to some of their needs too. Perhaps, you have kids and you have to help with their homework and put them to bed. Or you may have to do some other domestic duties.
Except you can manipulate time like it’s done in sci-fi movies, finding time from such a schedule is almost impossible. It is easier to just rush into a store and get processed foods instead.
Preparation and Cooking Time
Now after a long day at work, you somehow found a way to shop for the ingredients for your meal. You get the ingredients home and then you realize you have to chop the vegetables, slice the tomatoes, and cut the chicken breast into smaller chunks before you can cook them.
You take a look at the clock and then you realize that by the time you are done with the preparation and cooking, there’d be no time left for other things.
There’s probably that leftover work you have to deal with immediately and cooking will leave you no time to sort that out. So, instead of going through the whole cooking process, you opt for a bowl of instant cereal instead.
Of course, sugar-laden cereals need no preparation. Just pour the cereal in a bowl, add some milk, and you are good to go.
All the time you would have spent in preparing to cook and cooking can now be spent sorting out the leftover work. Once again, you’ve had to sacrifice having a healthy meal for that extra time.
Proximity to the Right Market
You wouldn’t find all the ingredients you need to prepare healthy meals everywhere. Different types of stores sell different types of food items. If the markets closest to you do not sell what you need, you are constrained.
If all you can get are the set of food items considered unhealthy, your hands may be tied. Well, except you go out of your way to travel to another place where there is a market that has what you need.
Now, even if you find a market that has what you need, is it the right market? What is the quality of what they sell? Are they fresh? Are they whole? Can you afford them? The answer to these questions will determine if you’ve found your target market.
Also, if you have to shuttle a long distance to the market that has what you want, is the cost of transportation worth it? In fewer words, if you are not close to the right market, eating healthy will definitely be tough.
Money was always going to be a factor. You are not likely to find farms in industrialized areas and that means fresh food items will not be very abundant.
This relative scarcity of fresh food items affects prices in such areas. You will find that they are more expensive than in areas closer to farms. These days, some grocery stores are stocking less fresh produce because of decreased traffic. Prices have increased too.
Now, you will definitely consider your income before opting to buy healthy food items. If getting them will leave you with almost nothing to survive on for the rest of the month, you will probably look to cheaper, less healthy alternatives.
People with lower incomes may have a better shot at a healthy diet if they live close to regions with many farms. The fresh food items are more affordable in those areas. Still, farmer’s markets are hard to come by these days.
But ultimately, if a person’s income is insufficient no matter the region, they will probably opt for what their money can buy. In many cases, what their money can buy is far from being the healthiest.
You can get your healthy meals at restaurants too but money is still a factor. If you cannot afford a hygienic restaurant with a healthy menu, you may have to go for what you can afford. What you can afford may not always be the healthiest.
The thing with processed foods is that everything has been compressed into a compact form. So, you can easily get supplies for an extended period without having to worry about bulky shopping bags and how you’ll get them home.
But if you are shopping to eat healthy, it’s not the same. You will most likely end up with heavy shopping bags especially if you are shopping for extended periods.
Now, you have to worry about how to get the foodstuffs home. Your best option would be your own car. But even if you have a car, carrying the foodstuffs inside the car, and then inside your house may not be easy.
If you do not have a car, you may have it worse. You either have to catch a bus or a cab to get your foodstuffs home. Then you have to carry the foodstuffs from the bus stop to your home. As you may have already imagined, carrying heavy foodstuff while walking isn’t easy.
So what to do? Do you risk getting an Uber or Lyft? Do you ask a friend to take you? Especially with the current climate, all of those ideas are risky at best.
If you are one who intends to stock up for extended periods, you will need food storage. That’s extra expenses for you if you do not have the supplies on hand already.
Storage needs are different depending on the food that needs to be stored. Depending on the variety of foods you want to keep on hand, you may need several types of containers and several methods of storage.
Another thing is, no matter how well you store your foodstuffs they will never be as fresh as when you first bought them. As the freshness wanes, the foodstuffs may not taste as good or be as healthy as they can be.
Cooking Skills and Predisposition
It’s not just enough to get the ingredients for the food, you have to cook them too. But not everyone loves to cook. Some people hate cooking while some are indifferent.
If you hate cooking or are indifferent about it, chances are cooking will be a bore to you. Understandably, if something is a bore, you will rather not do it.
Apart from your predisposition to cooking, you actually need the skills to whip up a tasty meal. It’s one thing to have the right ingredients. It’s another thing to combine these ingredients in a way that the outcome of your cooking will be tasty and healthy.
Not many people have the skills. The truth is if your cooking isn’t great, you would rather get your meals from other sources. These other sources will not always guarantee healthy meals.
Taste and Self-Control
We have had our portion of processed foods and we can confirm that they can be quite tasty. They usually contain certain substances in very high quantities, hence, their tastiness. But what makes them tasty is usually what makes them unhealthy.
Except you are getting healthy food prepared by someone very skilled, unhealthy meals will most times taste better than healthy meals. It will take a lot of self-control to switch from an unhealthy meal plan to a healthy one.
It will also take a lot of self-control to stay true to a healthy diet. Even if you are consciously making the effort to eat healthy, your body, your taste buds will crave the tastiness they are used to. The cravings can be so compelling and hard to manage at times.