One of the most difficult things about being a run-of-the-mill, financially-strapped Millennial? Eating even half-decently.
We aren’t enjoying well-marbled grass-fed steaks, fresh-caught salmon, or locally-grown vegetables from Whole Foods (well, maybe you are if you’re a cop.). Given the economic desperate straits most Millennials themselves in, keeping one’s body in prime-working condition is a pretty important– no one can afford the medical bill baggage that comes included with shitty health. After all, lots of us are uninsured, and oh look rates are going up — hope and change?
There almost seems to be a mutually exclusive dichotomy between nourishing one’s body properly but being broke, or saving a few bucks and loading up on sodium-coated, sugar-laden garbage. Either, you can have some extra spending money, but end up shaped like The Penguin, or you’ll spend every damn cent you have to resemble something humanoid. (By the way, if you’re going The Penguin route, my ‘Poor Man’s Pad Thai’ is pretty good: Peanut butter, ramen, and egg — honey if you have it).
Before we delve deeper into this, I want to assert my firm belief that the modern American dietary guidelines are insulin-spike-fueling bullshit. Thanks government overlords!
6-11 servings? 300 carbohydrates in a day? Obesity rates, diabetes, and cancer, are all on the rise, and yet, walk into the grocery store and all you see are waddling penguin-people who are pouring over labels of ‘low fat’ foods. Skittles are low fat! Sour Patch kids are a low fat food. Coca-Cola is a low fat food. Pasta and bread? Anyone else see a problem here? I think Mark Sisson is onto something with the Primal Blueprint. Rather, I know he is, seeing that I was was the fat kid in school growing up. Thanks grains. Nearly 300 lbs. and nary one kiss from a girl until giving a low-carbohydrate approach a shot (I did Atkins, which does melt off weight, but I found to be unsustainable due to its unnatural limitation on fruits and vegetables).
Now I’m not recommending you inanely avoid all carbs, your body needs them– but limit it to about 150 a day at most, mostly from fruit and vegetables. Ditch the grains. Conventional wisdom literally advocates we all become sugar burners, while diabetes rates are soaring. Running on a cheap, quick fuel like sugar is simply not the way our bodies adapted in the wild before we became agrarian. Your body had everything it needed in the wild. Try this out, and I promise you will feel better for it. A day free of the sugar-spike—>crash is amazing.
Off the bat, the idea that living off of cheap grains is bad for you is going to seemingly drive your grocery bill up, but if your resourceful and clever, there are ways to curb the costs.
There’s obviously a few life hacks here to get around it — beside dumpter diving with the Freegans. But hey, not judging you if you’re into the freegan thing, sometimes the food is well packaged; I did it in college and ate free Little Caesar’s pizza for nearly a year (Yeah I know pizza is not exactly grain free, but it was college and I wanted money for bars).
I can think of a few easy ones off the bat:
Find conferences and free food in your general proximity WITHOUT ever having to set foot in a Domino’s Pizza dumpster. Obviously, this works better if you’re still on a college campus, or somewhere equally communal, but there are freeloader opportunities all over the place if you know where to look. Conferences, seminars, open-houses. If you really want to be cheap, go for it. Luckily, with social media in our pockets nowadays — checking around Facebook, Meetup, and other community sites can keep you abreast of where to freeload. Hey, it’s there to be taken, so why feel bad about it?
Skip meals, graze. Seriously. The world will not implode if you start cutting back on your intake. I tend to find people of the 20-30 crowd are of two minds. They either don’t eat a damn thing already… and end up looking like emaciated hipsters, or they eat far more than they should (mostly grain-based foods) and balloon up. When I reduced my intake, my stomach shrank, along with my appetite. Conventional Wisdom says skipping meals is bad, that your metabolism will slow to a crawl if you don’t eat something small every 2-3 hours. Conventional wisdom also used to think ‘bloodletting‘ could cure disease. I eat when I’m hungry, usually protein-heavy, fatty meals, and I avoid snacking out of social compulsion, or boredom. Simple. I don’t eat when I’m not hungry. I’ve been moving downward on the scale, and toning up, by simply listening to my body– eating when hungry, skipping meals when not. I’m usually only eating 2 meals a day now with some when-hungry snacking (apples, nuts) — and I’m doing just fine — and I’m having to buy less on my grocery runs because of it.
Cut back on the restaurants, learn to cook.
When you are working with your own goods, you tend to be more conscious of how much you’re preparing, and what’s going in it. I find that I end up feeling fuller, on less, when I cook for myself. Perhaps it’s just getting into that contentious mindset while preparing the food? Eating out though, is an Achilles Heel for the under-30 crowd. A good portion of Millennials grew up in one-parent homes with parents far too busy to cook — for some, cooking is an antiquated practice. Eating out has become a way of life for many Americans. In my own social circles, sometimes we eat out just to get our minds off of the fact that everything seems to be going to hell in a hand-basket (even though we’re all broke and shouldn’t be spending a dime). The problem with that is of course two-fold:
1. Eating out is expensive and further breaks our thin wallets.
2. Most people don’t think about what they’re putting into their body when they’re eating out. — That usually means they get a big ass plate of carbohydrates (pasta, pizza, fries) and a sugar-filled soda. Those things are already bad, but coupled with the fact that much of it is still probably made with High Fructose Corn Syrup, it’s doubly bad.
When you absolutely -have- to go to a restaurant, order a water, and snack on an appetizer. If you’re curbing the volume of food you’re bringing in, you probably won’t feel the need to eat too much more in one sitting than an appetizer anyway. Or, skip the food and be social with a glass of wine.
Costco-hoarding. Buy your meat here. I haven’t found a cheaper alternative yet– but it works. And a lot of Costco’s stuff is actually organic in the literal sense, it’s simply not ‘certified’ as such– as this costs producers significant amounts of operating capital. If you have a big-ass fridge, make a trip, just one trip a month and set a firm limit on what you intend to spend on meat. Get a healthy amount of protein and fat. Ditch the snacks that aren’t veggies. They’re all grain, and again, I think grain is bullshit. Fill up on the free samples while you’re there too, it can cover your lunch for the day.
No fast food. I don’t even think I need to go too deep into this one. No one’s going to seriously believe fast food is healthy– but before you ask, this absolutely includes Subway, with it’s mystery meat ‘chicken’ (look at it sometime, it’s a sponge, not a meat). Honestly, that should be okay. The last thing my struggling generation needs to do is keep poisoning their bodies with Monsanto’s Frankenstein-food.
Eat more eggs. Eggs are a superfood. They’re still dirt-cheap compared to most protein sources out there, and they do a good job keeping a nice, full feeling. Are they going to raise your cholesterol? They might, but consider that many people used to live off lard and eggs every day, and they sure weren’t rolling down the street in a beach ball shaped body, the way the toaster-pastry penguins are. The jury is out, one day you hear eggs are horrible, the next they’re great. I say gamble it.
Grow your own food. Take a note from the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s wife on this one. If your local municipality isn’t yet parading some bullshit law restricting you from generating your own food– go for it. I don’t do this yet– but I keep intending to.
Drink more water. This one is easy. It keeps you full, alert, and hydrated.
Flask it. Going out to the bar? Order club soda all night and save yourself an unnecessary dent in your wallet. Illegal? Probably, but I don’t have respect for most laws, it’s the beauty of being a libertarian.
What are some ways you get free munchies and keep the penguin physique away?