It's time for America to change. We live in a vicious cycle of bad food and worse guilt that leaves us with unhealthy bodies and bad consciences. We know that the food we can eat for cheap is bad for us, but it's available in spades and normally tastes good enough and is made fast enough to be justifiable. What isn't justifiable is the way it makes us feel. It doesn't give us the nourishment we need, and it doesn't make us feel like great people.
But I believe that the changes we want to see start with us. As Mahatma Gandhi is often quoted for saying, "We must be the change we want to see in the world." So to loosely quote Michael Jackson, I'm starting with the woman in the mirror.
I am as guilty as anyone. After growing up eating very healthy under a protective mother, I rebelled in college. I ate pizza and beer for dinner and could polish off a box of Cheez-Its in one sitting. I didn't care what I ate, and I felt that I was free. I had no limitations and didn't need to starve myself in order to fulfill some need to be skinny. But there was a backlash, and I eventually did nearly just that. The truth is, I couldn't get my head around what I should eat and what weight would be healthy for me. There is a great disparity in this country between what is desirable and what is reasonable. Being a big-boned girl, I have always fought with myself over my weight.
Next to the ads for McDonald's and Coca-Cola that bombard my daily life were ads with very skinny, pretty girls. Thanks to magazines and movies, many, many women believe that they weigh too much. They might, but they shouldn't weigh that little, either. Very, very rarely are women ever depicted as they should be: healthy. This is true for men as well, but as a woman, this is a sensitive subject for me. Models do not mirror the reality that should be. They are not simply people who eat healthy and get a decent amount of exercise. This, however, is my wish for our country. We need to recognize the abilities and limitations of our bodies and love ourselves as we are.
Then comes the Revolution. It's time for the most obese country in the world to take charge of what it eats. As people who love our bodies, it's time for us to feed ourselves better. We don't need large amounts of sodium, sugar, and preservatives in our food. We need real, fresh food. The good news is that it's available. It may not be as cheap as processed food, but our bodies will thank us. We will feel better. I have been trying to eat fresh meals with a good balance of protein and vegetables for the last week, and already my body feels better. There is no price you can put on that.
In order for America to really change, it needs to recognize its largest untapped resource: us. We The People. If enough of us unite to change the food in schools, to change what our kids are given after soccer games or swim meets, and to change what we eat at home, it will make a difference. If enough people ask for healthy salads (not with fried chicken) at places like McDonald's with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar instead of caloric salad dressing, they will provide it. American economics are a sticky situation at present, but one thing is true: when there is a demand, there will be a supply.
It's time for us to demand better. We can do this at home by stocking up on essential ingredients like fruit, vegetables, chicken, fish, etc. Frozen may not seem the best way, but if you buy products with the least amount of preservatives and sodium possible, it is easier. You will always be able to make something for dinner. Another trick is to plan meals and snacks in advance so that there will be time to make them and not resort to fast or processed food.
We can also demand better publicly. If enough people stop drinking sodas at movie theaters, the management will notice. If enough people ignore processed food in grocery stores, grocers will notice. If enough people opt for grilled chicken rather than fried in restaurants, chefs will notice. We can unite to make this happen, but there need to be enough people keep asking for healthier options. If they do, it will be provided.
I have signed Jamie Oliver's petition. I believe that it is time for this country to change. It's time for us to realize that we deserve to eat decent food, be happy, and feel better. The children in this country deserve a legacy of healthy, tasty meals, not processed food that contains a laundry list of preservatives. They deserve to live long, healthy lives absent of obesity and diabetes. It's time for us to unite and demand a better way of life for ourselves and for the generations that will follow.