The images above are from Supportal, a social media community that bills itself as being comprised of “people with their own mental health journeys” seeking to support one another along the (often long and difficult paths) to healing. The community’s goal was to highlight the enormous problems with the American medical system and how they make life-changing medications prohibitively expensive for people without good insurance. While I absolutely agree that they’ve got a valid point there, the nutritionist in me sees an entirely different – but equally critical – message in the huge price tags the featured medications carry.
Eating and living clean only look expensive
until you count the true costs of the alternative.
We’ve long been sold the idea that clean eating and healthy living is expensive – too expensive. Outright burdensome! At a passing glance, it even looks true. Side-by-side, a grocery cart full ready-made convenience foods, snacks, and conventionally raised meat and produce will ring up to a lot less than a cart full of pastured meats and organic fruits and vegetables.
Why? Because grocery bills don’t show the full costs of food.
I could rant about this for days, but for now, consider just the tip of the iceberg:
- Billions of dollars in federal taxpayer funds are thrown at Big Agriculture every year to keep the prices of wheat, corn, and soy artificially low… taxpayer dollars that come out of your pocket.
- Chronic disease – much of which can be directly traced back to the damage done to our bodies by unhealthy eating and lifestyle habits – is breaking Medicare and Medicaid… and prescription medications for chronic diseases are breaking individual household budgets.
- Employers in nearly every industry are scrambling and staggering under the costs of employee ill health on their businesses. Absenteeism, lost productivity – these are costs we pay and suffer for every day at work.
- While direct links are more difficult to draw, there is strong evidence that increases in home, school, and workplace violence are also related to the rise of poor diets and unhealthy lifestyles and their effects on the mind and body.
We all pay for what we consume and how we live.
The only question is whether we pay it knowingly upfront,
or whether we bleed it out unwillingly and painfully after the fact.
Ask yourself how much deeply nutritious food you could buy for the $203 it takes to buy a month’s worth of Adderall. Compare the four yoga/fitness classes you could attend for the $44 it costs to buy Ritalin. (And how much happier and healthier you’d feel all around!) Imagine what you could do for the quality of your life and your health with the $330 a month the antidepressants average out to!
I’m not here to pretend that life isn’t expensive and that opportunity cost isn’t a real thing we each have to grapple with for ourselves. But we’re paying for the lie that taking care of ourselves is “too expensive” with our lives and our families and it has to stop.