If you spend any time on Tumblr, or watching Jamie Oliver on the telly, you’ve probably heard that it’s cheap and easy to eat healthily. You’ve been told that the people who live off ready meals and take away are lazy, wasting their money, and quite frankly it’s their own gosh darn fault for being fat and poor – the two very worst things you can be in this society.
In a world where we’re obsessed with people’s weight, we’ve also – unsurprisingly – become obsessed with people’s eating habits. We’ve all got that one friend who will smugly tell you that eating a handful of chopped nuts is as good a snack as a packet of crisps. You know the one I mean, the one who sits there feeling superior as they munch on some porridge concoction that looks like it’s been regurgitated, judging you as you quickly scoff down a chocolate bar before you dash out the door, late for some meeting or class or job or social engagement. The one who disapprovingly tells you that you’d actually save so much money if you just cooked quinoa and fresh vegetables every day instead of hurriedly throwing something in the microwave. You know that friend I mean? Yeah, well I’m calling bullshit on that friend.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t be encouraging people to eat healthily. Fruit and veg and a balanced diet are incredibly important. But no matter what the ‘fitblrs’ on Tumblr tell you, it’s not always cheap and easy to eat well. Sure, some of us can afford to peruse the local Whole Foods shop in search for organic kale. We have the time to spend writing meal plans and standing over a pot of simmering broth for 3 hours. But many people don’t have such luxuries.
Ignoring the fact that cooking healthily – especially for one person – isn’t actually as cheap as many people will tell you, the smug health-food junkies who look down on people who don’t eat well forget the amount of time, effort, and energy that goes into preparing 3 nutritional meals a day, 7 days a week.
Don’t own a car or live within walking distance of a decent supermarket? Good luck hauling all the fresh vegetables you’re supposed to eat on the bus. Disabled? Have fun trying to carry any shopping at all. Poor? Enjoy trying to decide between paying bills and paying the extortionate delivery charge to have groceries delivered to you.[bctt tweet=”No matter what Jamie Oliver says, healthy eating is not accessible ” username=”oawoodward”]
What if you’re a single mum? By the time you’ve got home from work, picked up the children from whatever form of childcare you’re using (assuming you can even afford childcare), tidied the house so that it’s somewhat inhabitable, done a million other things that need to be done, do you really have the time or energy to stand there boiling quinoa and oven-roasting sweet potatoes?
How about if you work two jobs? I wish you luck trying to find the time to prepare a healthy dinner between one shift and the next. Maybe you don’t even have time to go home between jobs. Suddenly that Burger King across the road, or that ready meal you can shove in the microwave in the staff room is looking pretty damn good.
Let’s say you have decided that you’re going to fight against all the odds and try to cook a proper dinner at least once a week. You turn to Jamie Oliver’s 15 minute meals. A god send! Or at least it is until you realise that 15 minute meals only take 15 minutes if you can afford a food processor and know how to prepare a myriad of obscure vegetables and pulses.
The point is, yes, we should all try to eat healthily. But, like so many things in the world, healthy food is not accessible. It’s not quick, or easy, or even always cheap. You can sit there with your brown rice and tofu feeling as smug and judgmental as you like, but remember not everyone is in the comfortable position that you are. Not everyone can make 2 smoothies and a breakfast bowl before 11am. Not everyone can even afford a bloody blender.[bctt tweet=”Not everyone can live off health smoothies. Not everyone can even afford a blender.” username=”oawoodward”]