The stereotypes of food are affecting our health

November 20, 2019

If you don’t eat school lunch, when 11:15 rolls around you have the painstaking choice of where to go to lunch. With 40 minutes to eat, $5 in your pocket, and home being 20 min away, what are you more likely to do? Go grab a cheeseburger and fries from a fast food restaurant? Go home? Or go to the store to buy a salad? If you picked the first option, you’re not alone! 

Among teenagers in the US, 16.9 % of their basic caloric needs are wasted away on fast food. Fast food is defined as food rich in energy because they generally contain a lot of sugar and fat as well as salt and are relatively low in important nutrients such as protein, fiber, and vitamins. Fast food is extremely enticing to teenagers because its low in price and tastes great. This is a dilemma facing our society because not only is obesity unhealthy but it also can lead to depression, self esteem issues, and anxiety. Many fast food establishments are marked as unhealthy and if eaten in excess can make you gain weight. However, many high schoolers having a low budget, little time to eat, and them being easily accessible, health is the last thing on a teen’s mind.

For instance, you can go to McDonalds and get a Big Mac for $3.99 or get a variety of things off the $1 menu, or go to City Market and get an apple for 69 cents, and a protein bar with prices ranging from $1 to $4.99. The problem with this is that yes, you can eat healthy and remain low budget, but high schoolers fall victim to the stereotype that eating healthy is too expensive and is always such a low quantity of food. FALSE, you can in fact go to City Market and buy a salad, containing all the nutrients and vitamins you need and go through your day feeling more energized, less bloated, and STILL feel full. Trust me, I know it’s hard to resist the temptation to eat sweets and unhealthy foods but if you look at it in terms of how it will make you feel, you might just be able to say no.

Yes, in some circumstances the stereotype that eating healthy is more expensive can be true, but it’s the same with fast food. If you really wanted to, you could go to Taco Bell and rack up $13 in food. That is no lie. If you need something fast and relatively cheap, some of your best options are places like Quodoba, Jimmy Johns, or Subway because they have low cal options that don’t have as much sodium and fat and have a buffet of veggies to add to your meal but as with everything else, it depends on your preference and what you order. The point to remember is that eating healthy is known to boost self confidence and make you feel better while also providing better fuel to your body and reducing your risk of getting heart disease and cancer, and if you truly look for a good deal you’ll find better food, for the same price.

Another problem amongst high schoolers affecting our eating habits is the complaint “Well I can’t go home for lunch and I have to eat so I should just get something while I’m out” which is understandable. My point is not to say that eating out is “bad”. As with everything else, it’s fine in moderation, but ever considered packing a lunch? Packing a lunch is a way to monitor exactly what you’re eating while not giving your precious money to those teasing golden arches. As with fast food, packing a lunch can be as healthy or unhealthy as you’d like but overall it’s considered a better option for high schoolers with less time and a low budget because it’s usually prepared and made from whole foods from the store. An example of a healthy home lunch would consist of an apple, some nuts, veggies, and a small side salad.

Nutrition is not something that interests everyone. Some people are more entertained by it than others, but it’s important to care about your overall health because it truly affects everything you do. Obesity is the second leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States with with 300,000 deaths per year according to the National Institutes of Health. Watching what you eat is important because when getting in unhealthy patterns, it can lead to obesity. As teenagers, we have choices every day that we can make that can impact our futures, including what we decide to put in our bodies.

Make the choice to change your lifestyle for the best of your health. Today begin watching what you eat and be the best you that you can be. Say no to the greasy foods at McDonalds and instead add 15 minutes to your day by taking the time to pack your lunch and fill it with all the nutrients and vitamins you need. Nutrition is something that has interested me for years because it’s something that’s made me feel accomplished at the end of the day by knowing that I did something good for my body. The feeling of accomplishment and confidence is something that completely overrules feeling negative about ourselves. Perhaps you should test this today and see how you feel,  I promise you won’t regret it.


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