I find myself often forgetting that the things I consume are directly related to the way my body feels. Over time we become better at gauging what our bodies respond well to, but many people still feel too busy to be able to give ourselves what we need. For many people the fall/winter weather can cast a gloomy mood as our bodies respond to our environment. It is important that we take the time to cater to our mental, physical and emotional health.
Unfortunately for many people in this country, and around the world for that matter, this is not so easily done. Working day in and day out, whether by choice or circumstance, is the path most traveled. The idea of "taking the time" to do what is necessary for our bodies, has become a luxury that many of us can't afford to experience.
My mother always taught me not to verbally "claim" anything negative I didn't want or need, because by affirming them in our thoughts, words, and actions, they affect us. This is not to say that we have control over everything in our lives, and that if something bad has happened to you it is because you 'claimed it', but it is a reminder to be intentional with words, thoughts and actions; remembering that everything is mutable energy and romanticizing your own struggle can manifest real hardships.
That being said, I try not to claim "being too tired" or being "too exhausted to cook" because I know the source of my fatigue is a direct response to my actions; and as a young twenty something, I should have the energy. But I don't always eat as consistently as I should and I know I am not the only one.
In a study conducted by the IFIC (International Food Information Council) and the IFICF ( International Food Information Council Foundation) in 2013, they found that many young millennials between the ages of 18-35 have other factors in our lives, than previous generations, that affect the way we relate to food. Our lack of meal planning, skipping breakfast and other emotional triggers are a few pieces of what make our generation's general eating behavior.
In March, Business Insider released an article which revealed that the difference in millennial spending habits, as well as our working hours and time management, are major contributors to the way we eat and take care of our health. Many young people I know, don't work a 9-5 or simply don't have a routine work schedule that would allow the time to cultivate the eating habits our parents may have grown up with. What’s so interesting about this (for researchers) is that millennials are far more concerned about the quality of our food, yet we rarely act on our healthy ideals when it comes to eating out (restaurants and fast food chains), or purchasing food at the grocery store.
As part of a study, Millenial Marketing observed, "irregular work hours, time-shifted entertainment, and 24-hour access to games, shopping and communication are impacting more than just how we communicate, shop and consume entertainment. They are also impacting our eating habits... Multitasking now extends to meals- eating, whether alone or with family, often is an accompaniment to another activity such as the computer or TV, texting, or reading..."
When reflecting on the ways that we spend our time and money, and how that relates to food and health, I initially wanted to write about how we should spend more time taking care of ourselves, and how the way we eat is directly related to the way we feel and how much we are able to get done.
But doing just the slightest research on diets and food habits I remembered that talking about food is immediately related to class, and that there is really no way to innocently talk about how we should all just "eat better" and "treat ourselves" when there are still people who can't afford to do so. Inherently, we all have lead different lives and are able to support different lifestyles, but not all are as equal in access and quality as they should be. Eating organic and supporting local is great, but is expensive for more than just one person (and really even for just one person), let alone a family of four. There are so many things that affect our health, and the most direct is food. But the things that directly affect food choice are money, transportation, storage and the means to able to cook.
It is truly ridiculous that there are people dying from hunger and going without because of the amount of the amounts of money they don't make.
It’s hard to say what a mass solution to food injustice and insecurity will be, seeing as how capitalism is still concerned with profit instead of lives, but there are things that we can all try to do to support each other. The suggestion of a potluck is predictable but coming together to each contribute something to a larger meal is a great way to make sure everyone is fed and nothing is wasted. Many of us are used to the concept of taking a plate home from a large family gathering, but that is already a small, yet impactful act. This doesn't have to take place on the scale of a 15 person dinner every other night. There have been times when all I had in my fridge were some small helpings of vegetables and pantry items, but a friend of mine would only have a piece of protein. We would come together and make a meal that the two (or how ever many of us) could share. Another part of taking care of yourself is reaching out when you need help and having these experiences of communal meals as a part of relieving the food insecurity that some of us may be dealing with, but are too embarrassed or proud to admit.
Having two jobs that give me access to the food I need, has made me think a lot about the affordability of produce and healthy choices for people whose money and hard work aren't able to go as far as they should. It is easy to say "Eat Well" but harder to achieve; when we tackle these issues as a community and share our resources, we can start to further value the health and wellness of everyone.
For those who identify as young millennials concerned with social justice, we are catalysts for change in a world that needs help. We have a particular power as a political entity that is becoming stronger and must be looked after responsibly. There is no better way to start than with ourselves and with the lives around us, but this all requires an energy and a healthfulness that can be sustained and shared in order to grow.