Last night, I was having a conversation with someone from Sweden about the differences she’s noticed in the way people eat in the U.S. versus Sweden, and—surprise, surprise—she told me that whenever she goes home, even if she’s still eating favorite treats, she loses weight.
“It’s so hard for me to eat healthy here!” she said, griping about how hard unhealthy foods are pushed and how she feels like stores go out of their way to steer you away from the good stuff.
While I’ve never been to Sweden, I definitely agree that healthy foods are sort of marginalized here and made into these, like, luxury items, even though there are plenty of healthy foods like sweet potatoes and oatmeal and beans and lentils and such that are actually very inexpensive. The thing is, Americans have been programmed in recent years to think that eating healthy costs a lot of money.
This Times article looks at a study that was published in the journal Pediatrics of about 800 low-income Philadelphia school-children ages fourth grade to sixth grade who were able to buy about 400 calories worth of snacks with just the dollar and change in their pocket. Some of the most common snacks were candy (Sour Patch Kids, Peanut Chews) in the morning on the way to school, and chips after school—foods that are high in calories but almost totally lacking in nutritional value.
We start ’em young here, I guess. Maybe I was born an old lady, but my favorite after school snack used to be an apple with peanut butter. Cereal was another go-to. It still is. I guess I did like Fruit Roll-Ups and Fruit-by-the-Foot and Gushers when I was younger because “everybody else” was eating them and they were all over TV. At least those things were fortified with vitamin C, if just barely…
What’s it going to take for people to stop equating “healthy” with “boring” and “expensive?” That’s not the kind of attitude we should be passing down to our children.