Weighing In: Eating outside the box is hard

Published on Saturday, 15 February 2014 20:19 - Written by Coshandra Dillard cdillard@tylerpaper.com

I saw a meme on Facebook that read: “Eat less from a box and more from the Earth.” I think everyone would agree with that. It makes good common sense.

In our society, it’s easier said than done, though. These days, eating clean takes a lot of effort, which involves meal planning and a commitment to eating that way almost every time.

There is a fast-food restaurant on every corner, and the majority of the grocery store aisles comprise heavily processed foods. It’s hard to avoid boxed, bottled and canned food.

People buy frozen waffles, canned spaghetti sauce and bottled salad dressing because it’s convenient or budget-friendly.

Many times, if we try to buy what’s labeled as a healthier option, we end up paying more for it, and it’s usually not healthy.

You’ll also notice that manufacturer coupons typically offer deals only on junk food.

And for busy folks, where do they find fast food that is healthy? You won’t go through many drive-thru windows to find steamed veggies, fish, grilled chicken breasts and fresh fruit.

I do understand why though. First, it won’t be fast. Second, it may be too expensive for everyone to buy. And third, it may be difficult for an establishment to sustain.

But we have to vote with our dollars. Companies sell what we buy. In other words, if we stop buying junk, they may start providing healthier options.

We’ve seen that with Cheerios, which after a scrutinizing campaign from health advocacy groups, decided that its original cereal would no longer contain genetically modified organisms.

I believe most of us understand how far we’ve gotten away from eating real food, but if you’re poor, not educated about nutrition, or misguided by marketing, you just don’t know how to change it.

For starters, we can support local farming and nutrition education at schools. We also can pressure manufacturers and restaurants to give us what we want: tasty, healthy foods that aren’t saturated with synthetic ingredients. Most importantly, we have to learn to cook more at home.

My personal quest has been to do away with boxed and processed foods as much as possible. To be honest, it is hard, as I love sugar, and I love saving a dollar. But I’ve come a long way. There was a time when Hamburger Helper, Manwich and throw-together meals were staples in my house. It’s a fight to eat clean — no fake cheese, no sugary treats or desserts, nothing to drink but water or unsweetened tea and no convenience meals.

How do you stick to your clean eating plan in this fast food world? Join the conversations at www.facebook.com/LightenUpEastTexas or www.facebook.com/fitcitychallenge .