I often find it challenging to eat a well-balanced, healthy meal on a consistent basis. The excuses of long residency hours and an erratic work schedule contribute to this the most, for when I am on lighter rotations, packing lunch most days of the week and planning meals ahead of time seems easy, enjoyable, and gratifying. At other times, it is all too tempting to inhale the creamy pastas and rich, fatty meals served up for free in the hospital cafeteria (interesting how the one place that should promote healthy food serves the worst of it! No joke, mac and cheese is on the menu daily). We shovel food down at lunch because we really don’t know if we will get to eat dinner on call. Better to be full and tired than hungry and tired!
The challenges of eating well are a national problem, however. In a nation ridden with obesity and all its adverse consequences (metabolic syndrome, diabetes mellitus type 2, stroke, heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension, obstructive sleep apnea…the list goes on and on), encouraging healthy diets is of the upmost importance. There is the argument that healthy eating is too expensive, and fast food is cheap and readily available. However, there was a great article in the New York Times detailing how this is not really the case. Yes, fast food chains are found in greater numbers in urban areas where citizens are of a lower socioeconomic status, often at or below the poverty level. Grocery stores and farmers markets are hard to find in such areas. But if they were more available, healthy eating would be easier to promote.
Aside from making healthy eating more affordable and convenient for the masses, it is important to portray healthy eating as desirable, fun, and achievable. First Lady Michelle Obama has made great strides with her Let’s Move! campaign to promote healthy lifestyles and halt the epidemic of obesity before it cripples our citizens and our healthcare system. There are countless websites and blogs dedicated to healthy food options and wonderful recipes. One particular blog goes a few steps further by making healthy eaters seem tough and, well, badass. I discovered this website when my colleague’s iPad background caught my eye one day. The sweet, quiet medicine/pediatric resident had a background photo with a bunch of expletives strewn across it in large, bold letters. I did a double take and asked her what the heck the picture was about. She then shared with me a fantastic website called Thug Kitchen. It takes lovely photos of beautiful, fresh, healthy food and places striking, in-your-face memes on them to educate about and encourage healthy eating. It also provides recipes for the foods and beverages depicted in the photos. It may be so offensive that I won’t post any photos here (although I really, really want to!), so I will just share the website for your perusal.