Since “staying alive and healthy for longer” is the reason we decided to invent society in the first place, you’d think we wouldn’t have all these roadblocks between us and healthy eating. If the world made sense, you’d walk into the grocery store and everything would be arranged on a gradient scale from “healthy boredom” to “delicious suicide,” and you could make an informed decision like a goddamn adult. That way, people who have a family health history with more obnoxious tumors than a room full of Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonators could say, “I’ll just hang out over here in the boring but healthy aisle, because I’d like to live to see the release of Star Wars Episode XXIII: We Cloned Alec Guinness.“
Instead, we live in our stupid world, where trying to put nutrients in our body without also poisoning ourselves is literally a lifelong struggle that we are all but guaranteed to fail at. There are a million nefarious factors that are keeping us from achieving nutritional nirvana, but a million is too many entries for an article. So here are five.
#5. You Planned too Far Ahead
I love plastic bowls of microwavable mac and cheese. They’re my favorite thing that is literally killing me. And the best part about it is that I can forget that I have it for weeks on end. Then, on some magical day when I’m either drunk or very drunk and rooting around my cabinet for snacks, I’ll find it, and it’ll feel like Christmas. Since I don’t remember buying it, it’s exactly the same as getting a present from God.
It doesn’t even matter that plastic bowls of mac and cheese taste like stale pasta smothered in salt goo (because they are stale pasta smothered in salt goo). Something you receive as a gift tastes better. It is untainted by the stink of effort or sacrifice. You know how when you buy five bagels and get a sixth for free, that free bagel is always the most delicious one? It’s the same basic principle.
Bagels, by the way, will also kill you.
But that’s not how healthy food works. Celery turns into flaccid, inedible mud-sticks faster than Donald Trump can turn a normal conversation into one about how racist he is. Kale transmogrifies into a brackish pudding of the damned before you can remember why the fuck you bought kale. In a mere week, fish will grow a colony of moldy residue that will either worship you as a god or try to usurp us as the planet’s dominant intelligence. Anyone who decides to “start eating healthy” and “cook their own meals” will, inside a week, be battling a swarm of swampy fungus goblins that burst hungrily from their fridge at 4 a.m., crying havoc in the voice of conquering. Yes, when you try to shift your diet in a healthy direction, you run the risk of getting flayed by an army of tiny, pain-worshiping monsters. It’s pretty fucked.
But more importantly, it’s just another goddamn thing to keep track of. Another thing to have to plan every week. That energy has to come from somewhere. Unless, of course, you figured a way around this mistake …
#4. You Didn’t Become An Entirely New Person
Stocking a kitchen with healthy consumables isn’t something you just do; it’s an actual skill. It’s the difference between learning to drive a car and learning to fix a car. Anyone can get a Prius from their garage to work and back, but a far fewer can replace the head gasket in a 1999 Integra, or even know what the shit that means. It’s an entire lifestyle change. If you eat like me, and want to one day eat healthy, you have to take into account that you will no longer be the person you are now. You will be a stranger in your own body. If that sounds like I’m exaggerating, just you wait.
I don’t like any part of cooking. The planning, the construction, the standing-in-the-kitchen and idly stirring until something’s consistency changes — it’s all awful. I’d much rather just throw a plastic bowl of instant mac and cheese in the microwave, hit the button, stare at it salivating for 90 seconds, and then shovel that pile of starch and salty goo down my gullet so fast that I can’t even tell how thoroughly I’ve scorched my innards.
Setting aside the fact that healthy food is far more expensive than unhealthy food (which normally couldn’t be set aside so easily, but I’m stupid rich), it’s simply a matter of construction. To eat the way I normally eat, I just need to grab a slab of ham, a brick of cheese, a loaf of bread, and the fanciest fucking scotch available. To eat healthy, I have to buy quinoa, eggplant, bell peppers, a melange of spices, and then know exactly how to put them together into a thing that will taste good. And even then, I can still accidentally make it unhealthy by doing it wrong by, say, absentmindedly covering everything with Velveeta cheese sauce. I’m running a gauntlet of failure, only to find that I accidentally packed my arteries full to bursting with cheese anyway.
So to eat healthy, you have to be interested enough in food to learn how to make different kinds of it, rich enough to buy the good stuff, and talented enough to craft it properly. Then you have to have the presence of mind to remember what you bought, and the free time to put it together, because another common mistake is …
#3. You Didn’t Make A Bunch Of Free Time Appear Out Of Goddamn Nowhere
I divide everything I do in an average day into three basic categories: Work, Sleep, and Trying To Fix The Personal Relationships I’ve Ruined Because All I Do Is Work And Sleep. Eagle-eyed readers will notice that those three categories don’t leave room for preparing elaborate meals — which, as already stated, I don’t know how to prepare anyway. That’s well-spotted, eagle-eyed readers. Enjoy a mouse carcass, on me.
It’s not just me and my trend-setting commitment to laziness. Despite the supposed rise of foodie culture, home cooking has been steadily declining for the past three decades. We’re eating home about two-thirds as much, and on top of that, we’re spending about two-thirds the time preparing food as well. That article predicts drive-thru supermarkets in our near future, selling us precooked meals right into our car window. Which is, as of right now, the most appealing part of the future I’ve been promised.
Especially since, apparently, it’s going to require a lot of window cleaner.
So in the end, we can’t cook more because we don’t know where to make the time come from. Sleep less, and we’ll die. Work less, and we won’t be able to afford the healthy food anyway. What was that third category again? Oh shit, I forgot to pick my buddy up. He’s getting out of jail today. Let’s get through these last two entries real speedy-like.