Do your part: choose healthy food



A year ago, I observed Waffle House on South Broadway for my Composition and Communication class. I quickly realized that the space was satiated with the smell of fat and butter.

Unfortunately, this atmosphere is common to many more meals than just late-night indulgences at Waffle House. Right next door is the new Cook Out fast food restaurant, which specializes in burgers and milkshakes. America’s food options are predominantly unhealthy, but each one of us can be a tool for change by consistently choosing healthy options.

Current health trends are alarming. Harvard Health Publications reported that two out of every three American adults are overweight or obese. Diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and depression can all be caused by obesity, so it should be no surprise that healthcare expenditures are so high in the United States.

The prevalence of fast food is clearly one cause of the health trends. Unfortunately, the University of Kentucky is no exception with greasy chains nearby such as McDonald’s, Arby’s, Dairy Queen, Raising Cane’s, Sonic and Subway. This problem was created because we rewarded eateries with the best tasting food, regardless of health factors. Now, we can help reverse the dominance of unhealthy food options by making food choices based on both taste and nutritional value. Although it’s a good first step, this includes more than choosing a salad over a cheeseburger and french fries at your next trip to McDonald’s.

Even grocery stores, sit-down restaurants, and dining halls will improve the quantity and quality of healthy options if we increase our consumption of them because available options are shaped by customer demand. This is how we will improve our campus: more places like Ovid’s, which offers Greek salads, deli sandwiches, veggie burgers, chicken wraps and tuna burgers. Nevertheless, many Ovid’s customers still often prefer meat, cheese and sugar packed meals.

Even when healthy options are offered at equal costs and convenience, we often turn to the food loaded with salt, sugar, and fat because we are addicted to those substances. However, with time and persistence we can break our addictions.

It has been almost two years since my last meal with meat, and I no longer crave items like hamburgers, hotdogs or bacon, which used to be at the center of my meals simply because they tasted good.

Pleasure is no reason to harm oneself, especially considering that the pleasure dissipates as addiction is broken.

Moreover, some people think that healthy food can be both tasty and mentally satisfying for creating a healthy body and peace of mind. Personally, I feel more energetic and focused when I’m eating a diet full of fruits, vegetables, and plant-based protein.

Ultimately, you will do yourself and others a favor by choosing healthy food. Although the government or school administration could do more to encourage healthy eating, the power for change rests in our ability to spend money responsibly.