It’s your money

Let’s try a little thought experiment. Imagine that you treated the food you eat to the same value and consideration to the money you make. Picture being paid in groceries instead of dollars and cents.

Would you care what kind of food you got paid?

What if you worked for a place that paid only in fast food hamburgers? That might be great at first, especially if you’re a burger fan. But in six months, a year, you’ve gained weight. You’re tired and cranky, even though you eat all the burgers you can stomach, and you long for something different – even a salad!

This is a bit extreme. Too much of any one thing isn’t good, even if the thing itself is typically good. But imagine a similar scenario where you’re paid in a type of food, like fast food. Now, you’ve got some variety. You’re still overweight and feel sad, when you feel anything at all. You’re in the chips – literally – but earning your living is killing you.

What actually happens isn’t so different. You get your paycheque, then choose of your own free will to give your money to fast food companies, or the purveyors of microwavable convenience. That would be fine if such a scenario happened once in awhile, but you trick yourself into thinking it happens less frequently than it does. You end up in the same mess you would have if your boss paid you in burgers!

Look, it’s your money – do with it what you want. Only think of this: would you pay someone to hit you? To trip you as you walk? To make you carry their weight as though it were your own? I’d hate to sound like I’m overstating my case to the point of hyperbole, but the fact of the matter is that there’s a distinction to be made between empty calories and actual food. And shelling out hard earned dollars for the privilege of ingesting empty calories seems akin to active self-harm.

Instead of paying out for a gym membership that won’t help you lose weight, consider redirecting your food dollars to more productive ends. Rather than calculating costs for after-the-fact medical interventions or tallying up bills to replace a wardrobe that’s constantly ‘shrinking’, think about your food budget as actual food. Not in terms of calories, per se, but in terms of sensible things to eat. Even a diet of carrots, celery and potatoes is far better than a diet of burgers and fries.

It seems complicated and hard. For a long, long time, I focused too much on establishing and maintaining balance in my diet. I was afraid of certain foods because pundits had told me they were bad to eat, so I should avoid them at all costs. And every time I put my trust into some so-called expert, I found myself disappointed.

In simplest terms, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” This should be everyone’s dietary mantra. What’s food? That’s ultimately up to you, but whatever’s closest to its original state (with the exception of cooking) is probably best. Go nuts with seasonings, many of which are non-caloric, so you don’t get bored, and actually enjoy eating what’s on your plate. And eat in moderation, like when you’re hungry.

It’s your money, but it’s also your food. Your body. Your life.