Paycheck to Paycheck; Drive-Thru to Drive-Thru

Rachel Greene, Opinions Writer

It seems as if everyday there is a new, trendy fad diet being promoted by celebrities, social media influencers and even the random generated ads on the Internet. You cannot look at your phone, a magazine or your Instagram feed without seeing before and after photos, being convinced to try Keto coffee, or the newest diet pill.

People these days all seem to be trying their best to be “fitness queens” and “skinny legends,” but not everyone has this on their minds when pacing the grocery aisles. There are so many diet choices and nutritious options out there, so why doesn’t everyone buy them? It begs the question; if there are so many diets that “really work” or provide “immediate results,” why are we still facing rising obesity and heart disease rates?

Well, let’s take a quick glance at some facts. The signature “Big Mac” from McDonald’s goes for $3.99 and boasts a whopping 563 calories. The lowest priced salads start from $4.59 and tend to have about 290 calories. While these price differences may seem miniscule to you and I, the penny pinchers of the world have to consider every single cent when they purchase a meal. The trend does not end with the McDonald’s menu.

In grocery stores nationwide, fruit is more expensive than chips, frozen meals are more expensive than fresh ingredients, and lean meats are a luxury. To get the best bang for your buck, you must make sacrifices, and nutrition is often the first thing to go. When broken down by the cost of the food and the amount you’re getting for your money, it’s simple. We as a nation constantly say we are working towards fighting obesity, but the problem does not lie in willpower as it is often portrayed; it lies in the wallets of families everywhere; and in the paychecks of the poor. It is common sense that when you are living on $100 a week and feeding a family of 2, 3, 4 or even 5 that you will choose the cheap, but unhealthy $20 dinner over a homemade $35 meal that is healthier. Your weight, appearance and health come second to your hunger pangs and your starving children who would rather eat McNuggets anyway. It is much more important to put a full meal on the table than to put half a meal on the table. Even if what people are eating is fried, greasy and bursting with calories, a smaller portion of food that is healthy and nutritious seems like a waste of money. We as a nation have decided that beating obesity and all the issues that come along with it is a personal choice that anyone can make, but in doing so have disregarded an entire population that lives off a weekly paycheck and cannot put nutrition first. Healthy eating is not a choice everyone can afford to make. Wealthy people who can afford to be vegan or Keto or any other variation of a diet need to stop saying that it works for everyone or that everyone should try it.

The reality is that dieting and healthy eating are for people in financially stable situations. Because of this, we must stop shaming and ridiculing the obese, impoverished population because chances are, they had little to no choice.