Doesn’t Everyone Want to be Healthy? (No)

Do most people *say* they want to be healthy?  Sure.  Does everyone want to be healthy?  No, few do.  From the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2017 article:

Recent data show adults continue to consume too few fruits and vegetables; overall, 12.2% met fruit intake recommendations and 9.3% met vegetable intake recommendations during 2015.

So ~90% of Americans aren’t eating enough veggies, according to CDC standards, which sets the bar low at three cups a day for men ages 18-30 and two and a half cups for women in the same age group.  And twice as many women than men eat enough veggies, meaning the percentage of men who eat enough veggies is the same as the percentage of women who fantasize about sucking a horse’s dick.    

“We just need to educate better,” says the clueless cretin with a Masters degree in Education who, if given a profitable business, would bankrupt it within two months.  Uh, no, the reason far more men prefer to fuck an STD ridden street whore than to eat kale is because, according to all the great philosophers and all the great religions,  people — all of us, even the Amish — are hedonists.  The vanity of self-indulgence is our Original Sin.    

That’s why Alive Juice Bar doesn’t brand itself as providing “healthy food,” we call it “guilt-free” instead because “healthy,” in most people’s minds, tastes nasty.  Americans are especially prone to avoid anything that they consider nasty, and not just food and experiences, this includes emotions we discussed in chapters 4-6.  Let’s unpack what’s going on here.  First, let’s be lenient and say that people do in fact want to be healthy.  But most want pleasure, which is often confused with happiness, even more.  And concomitant to the desire for pleasure is the even stronger and more dangerous desire to avoid pain. That’s why veggies are rotting in many fridges and most Americans are hooked on drugs, prescribed or not, to dull the pain of everyday life.   

So there are two types of hedonists: those who avoid pain at all cost and those who accept pain — eg hot power yoga, 10 mile runs, juices made of veggies, no fruit (they’re better eaten) — enjoy it even because they’re anticipating an endorphin rush that can last for hours once the pain ends.  The latter group is fine, they’ve a healthy balance of pain and pleasure in their lives.  The pain avoiders are the ones with fucked up palates that makes what tastes good to the healthy nasty to them.  

Below are a couple of reasons why some find it difficult to be healthy:

  1. Much of American society rewards sickness. As children, many of us were rewarded for being sick.  For some, getting sick meant a desired day off from school and coddling from parents and friends, a day of special treatment. Those who, as children, were rewarded for being sick are probably more likely to carry the habit of getting sick into adulthood, especially if one is in an environment that rewards sickness (even if rewards are all short-term).  Annemarie Colbin, founder and CEO of The Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts writes:

So what is your choice? What does society ask of you? What gets rewarded in your life, sickness or health? Are people nicer to you when you get sick? Do sick people take advantage of you because you’re healthy and you can do more work than they do? I think we should be mindful of the strange paradoxes we have created for ourselves around the issue of health. And if health is our choice, we need to make sure we are rewarded in some satisfaction or another, in addition to the fact that health is its own reward.

People are more likely to participate in behaviors that will make themselves sick if there’s an incentive to be sick.  (Never coddle and reward children for being sick.  In most cases, they can work through it and nurse themselves back to health).

  1. Many think that healthy living means sacrificing an enjoyable diet.  People have confessed that they know that their diet is killing them but prefer to “die happy than to live miserably.”  I agree, not enjoying food isn’t a good way to live life.  But healthy food versus tasty food is a false choice.  Healthy food IS tasty once you develop a sophisticated palate.  

It’s like music.  For most children, simple, predictable tunes are most pleasurable.  Some, as they get older, develop more sophisticated taste in music.   Maybe they begin to appreciate harmonic dissonance or unusual frequency ratios between successive notes.  They become intolerant of predictable and saccharine music, just as those with healthy palates find the sweetness of cheap candy overwhelming, nauseating even.  Palates mature with experience, patience, and practice.  Eating for those with mature palates is an enjoyable activity, while for those with fucked up palates that make a carrot taste bitter (it should taste mildly sweet), eating is an either-or exercise that tests their will and discipline and ends with shame, guilt, and excess.  

There are other reasons why people don’t want to be healthy.  The point is, healthy living isn’t universally desired.  American public health policies fail because they assume everyone wants to be healthy.  So they think giving the poor “healthy” options will improve their diet (nope).  Or that it’s a matter of educating effectively (nope).  Or it’s a matter of affordability (nope).  American policy makers don’t realize that one’s diet is a matter of taste, habit, and emotional make-up.  

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