“An obese mother-of-two who lives on benefits says she needs more of taxpayers’ money to overhaul her unhealthy lifestyle. Christina Briggs, 26, says she hates being 160 kilos but she can’t do anything about it because she can only afford junk food. Meanwhile, exercise is out of the question because she doesn’t have the funds to join a gym.”
Does she have a fair point OR is she not taking responsibility?
I’ve seen this story floating around Facebook for some time. I just read the comments shaking my head — can people be any more critical? My word!
Then someone asked, “Well, what do think?”
So, here goes my stream of consciousness on this subject:
I find the connection between living healthy and income level to be really, REALLY disturbing. I grew up in a poor, single-family home yet most, geesh, all of our meals were cooked at home. Some may have come from a box for convenience, sure, but we ate a lot of things you can buy in bulk when on sale like pasta, rice, beans, chicken legs, etc. We never got “sugar cereals.” They were always a treat when visiting Grandma and Grandpa. Breakfast was usually the no-name bagged cereal that were like Cheerios or raisin bran. Sometimes we had milk, sometimes it was the powdered crap you’d get from WIC. Regardless, you know what? When you rarely eat things like Froot Loops or Frosted Flakes, puffed rice actually tastes good. It was one of my favorites growing up believe it or not and mom, never, EVER let us sprinkle sugar on top.
There is no doubt the things our culture defines as healthy (organic, whole grain, grass fed, antibiotic free, non-GMO, etc.) are more expensive but the last time I checked you don’t NEED to eat those things to live healthier or to lose weight. Produce from a local farmers market is a heck of a lot cheaper than organic stuff at Whole Foods, and you can argue with me all you want, but that’s still a better option than whatever packaged junk you may be currently eating. Not to mention, there are hordes of canned and frozen vegetable options that are already cheap or routinely go on sale at discount places like Walmart or Aldi. My family eats about four bags of frozen broccoli and two bags of frozen peas a week. You know how much each one costs? At most $1.25. I’m pretty sure I haven’t spent more than 99 cents on a bag of frozen peas ever, and both my kids love them straight from the freezer or warmed in the microwave. They are cheap, easy and tasty.
Have we forgotten how simple things can be?
I’m not sure where Christina lives and there’s no denying different areas have different access to things but I would love to spend an hour with her in a regular grocery store so we could talk about how inexpensive and versatile things like beans really are. They are convenient in cans and pretty cheap during sales, but a bag of dried is even more economical! All it takes is a little prep on the weekend and you can freeze bags of beans for months. Same with brown rice and certain cuts of meats are routinely on sale (like chicken thighs and pork chops) all of which can be portioned out and frozen. Even whole wheat pasta is just as cheap as the regular stuff anymore and when it goes on sale I stock up so I rarely pay full price anyway.
If my income would suddenly drop, there are a few conveniences and indulgences I would give up for sure (almond milk, cage-free eggs, coconut oil, more expensive cuts of meat) but overall my approach would be about the same. I don’t clip coupons because I find most of them to be for junk I don’t want or need (except household cleaning products). Instead I shop in bulk when I can, stock up when things go on sales and avoid lots of processed foods that I may become dependent on. My goal is to buy inexpensive items I can use in many ways. For example: I stopped using store-bought salad dressing. It’s expensive and full of extra ingredients I don’t need to be eating. Instead I make my own dressing out of a little oil, honey, mustard, salt and pepper. All things that I can use in countless other ways as well.
As for beverages, I see ZERO need to ever spend any money on them. No soda. No juice. Nothing. Milk and water are all I want my kids and I to consume in that department. I’ve seen lots of data that says soda consumption is highest among lower income people and I’ll never understand it. Why waste your money? Sure, indulge here and there but that shit is expensive! If it wasn’t for The Husband I’d spend exactly 0% of my income on soda. (The kids and I are slowly persuading him to give it up! His consumption has been steadily decreasing!)
At the heart of this problem I see a lack of education and motivation. I really think most folks like Christiana believe what they are saying because no one has shown them a better way. They are being bombarded with ads for junk foods while simultaneously being told they should be eating organic, non-GMO, whatever or they are KILLING their families.
There is no middle ground and that’s disconcerting.
As for the gym membership comment, well, that’s just silly. The last time I checked, walking is free but again, this is stemming from the same problem as the food. We like to think the choice is only between sitting on the couch or spending hundreds of dollars on a gym membership. We tend to forget all the options in the middle. Especially when we are stuck in a place of helplessness.
I was actually considering closing the comments on this because I don’t want to provide yet another area for folks to bash this poor woman — the comments on Facebook are simply deplorable. That being said, if you have something constructive to share, please do. I think she is giving attention to a problem that needs be addressed.