Dieting comes at a high price

Sarah Lelonek

I love food. Chips, cereal, broccoli, steak, chicken, Ramen noodles, burgers, fries, tacos, crackers, bananas, rice. You name it – I’ll probably eat it. The downside of being in love with food is the weight I gain while enjoying it.

It’s not to say I haven’t tried working out and dieting because I have, many times. The problem is I can’t do a lot of physical activity due to knee injury caused by a snowboarding accident.

So, I took the next logical step: I tried dieting.

Tried is a good word for it.

I traveled to Acme and looked for some fresh vegetables, fruits and lean meat. I ended up buying a package of baby carrots, a bag of pre-made salad mix, a bag of apples and a couple chicken breasts.

What I learned on my trip to the grocery store is that dieting is for those with money.

The amount I spent at Acme on healthy food could have bought me 10 packages of Ramen noodles, a few boxes of macaroni and cheese, a pound of hamburger, peanut butter, jelly and a loaf of bread. Sure, the carbs would have killed me, but I would have enough food for the week.

That’s when it dawned on me: Why is it that the foods with the most calories cost the least amount of money? Why does it cost so much money to be healthy?

The truth is, I can’t afford to lose weight. I simply don’t have enough money to spend $10 on one healthy meal, not when that $10 can buy me two or three days worth of food at Save-A-Lot.

This revelation got me thinking. A lot of low-income families are probably in the same situation I am in. They have a set budget and try to get the most for their money. Canned vegetables, noodles and ground beef are on the cheaper side, but also on the unhealthy side.

It seems as if America has somehow dug its citizens into an unhealthy hole where being healthy is not in the budget. Food stamps don’t go as far as one may think. The process of getting food stamps has left my family with a less than helpful result.

With dairy and produce prices rising, so will the weight of the nation. Higher prices on healthier foods will only cause families with little money to buy cheaper food that is low in nutrients and high in calories.

It’s not only grocery store prices that are to blame. Fast food chains aren’t exactly helping the problem either.

I know I don’t have the time to cook an elaborate meal. I can also vouch for a few families where both parents work two jobs and don’t have the time to spend in the kitchen. For those who are busy trying to make a living or just going to college, fast food frequently becomes the only option.

Sure, Wendy’s and McDonald’s have added a few healthy options to their dollar menus, but the portions of these items are too small for a meal. The yogurt on Wendy’s dollar menu is hardly worth the dollar you pay for it.

Why pay $2 for a side salad and some apple slices that are more of a snack than a meal when the same money can buy you a burger and fries?

I think if America was really worried about the obesity rate reaching more than 25 percent in many states, the country should consider having healthy options at lower prices for its citizens.

Until then, I’ll sit back and enjoy my 190 calories per serving of Ramen noodles, 28 grams of carbohydrates per serving of Bubba Cola and 380 mg of sodium per serving of canned green beans.

Sarah Lelonek is a junior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].