Healthy eating in NYC is something that at first glance could seem like an impossible thing to pull off. Walking down the streets, you can’t help but notice the Starbucks and the 1-dollar pizza places more than any other food-peddling establishment. And although many restaurants offer well-made, freshly-cooked meals, eating out daily is something that not many can afford.
On top of the extra expense of healthy food, it is very easy to get caught up in the easy-to-make, ready-in-a-minute microwave food and snacks that are available 24/7 in various convenience and drug stores. We all wish we could just grab the most easily accessible snack while out during the day or be spared the process of cooking a proper meal after a long day at work. It’s a quick solution; it’s fun and convenient; and it’s bad for us. And even though we know that we probably ought to be eating healthily, it just doesn’t seem to be that important right then. The paper that’s due tomorrow, the project that has to be submitted and the laundry that needs to be picked up are all things that take precedence over those 30 minutes it would take to cook dinner. But do we really know what we’re sacrificing?
It is really important for me to stress how much the food that we eat affects us. A couple of years ago, I was drinking a 2-liter bottle of Pepsi Max every day. Granted, that’s an extreme example, but for quite a while, I was not really feeling any negative effects that I could point my finger to, and life pretty much went on as before. I only slowly began to feel less and less eager to wake up in the morning. My sleeping schedule went from 7 hours of sleep a night to 10, and even though I was not doing anything particularly tiring, I could always just lay my head down on the nearest surface and start snoring right away. Something about the slow and gradual process of deterioration made it very difficult for me to realize that something was wrong. It wasn’t until I couldn’t stay awake without drinking Pepsi every two hours that I figured the obvious conclusion: something had to change.
This is not an amazingly inspiring experience; I did not avoid any deadly health complications that were induced by drinking so much soda. I did not arrive at any far-reaching conclusions about life, and I don’t think that I will. But I did understand something that I already knew. Something that I think a lot of people know but either choose to ignore or only know in theory. When I finally stopped drinking soda for a substantial period of time (and it took me a while to do this, I was pretty addicted!), I was astonished at the change it made. I knew that I was less energetic then other people, that I was more irritable and impatient but I didn’t know HOW impatient, HOW tired and HOW easily irritable I was. Gradually waking up in the morning didn’t have to include fighting with an overwhelming urge to drop out of school in favor of staying in bed for all eternity. Any small delay, red light on my way to work or a nice old lady passing the street, was no longer an incentive to cursing, eye rolling or death stares. I didn’t know it, but during my soda binging days, I was probably very unpleasant to be around on many occasions.
Now I don’t want to imply that drinking soda and eating junk food will automatically make you into a terrible person. What I’m trying to get across is that what you put into your body matters, and it affects you more than you’d think. It shouldn’t be the guilt of eating fatty meals stopping you from eating what you crave, but maybe the question of why you crave it. Are the foods that you put in your body influencing you to eat more of them, and if so, wouldn’t you be better off without them? Wouldn’t it be a better quality of life to be able to go about your business all day long, without the need to stop for a quick snack? We don’t always feel the effects of the food that we eat right away, and it seems so much harder to change eating habits that we already established. But what if we could feel better, most of the time, by just eating right? I know I’d like that, wouldn’t you?