Back in the day, I made my own bread from scratch (without a bread machine), shopped at the local organic produce market, and experimented with a variety of cooking styles and techniques. Then I graduated from college. Then I moved 600 miles to be with the guy I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with. Then I started a temporary job. Then I started a permanent job that required two hours of commuting each day.
I'd come home exhausted between 6:00 and 6:30 every night. My man, who had to teach night classes at 7:00, would gripe and complain that he wasn't getting the elaborate vegetarian meals I used to make. The cooking I had done before took a lot of time, and despite all his arguments to the contrary, I couldn't whip something together in 15 minutes before he went to class. Meanwhile, Mr. Man would arrive home between 3:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon. Would it have been so hard for him to cook? (Oh, yeah, I forgot, that's supposed to be exclusively the female's job.)
After we went our separate ways, my job situation had changed, and I ended up relying heavily on pre-prepared frozen foods. Although I had the time to cook, I was desperately broke, and I discovered that buying el cheapo frozen dinners cost less than cooking fancy vegetarian meals from scratch. Besides, I was living alone and the thought of spending time in the kitchen to cook for one person just seemed like too much effort.
When my current SO and I got together, I abandoned the kitchen entirely. I was working way too much overtime and was back to spending two hours each day in the car. I just didn't care what I ate, because it was just another thing to think about. We were both commuting. I would drive, and SO would sleep, and when we got home, I would collapse on the couch until dinner. I was exhausted, all the time.
If I had a personal chef, who knew how to make healthy and nutritious meals, I probably never would have gotten fat. It's hard to make good food choices when you are exhausted and you just don't care what's on your plate. Every night I would come home bone tired, knowing that I was going to have to do the same thing the next day. All I wanted to do was to eat something, anything, and then go to bed.
These days, we are trying to make healthier food choices, but we still rely heavily on frozen dinners and easy-to-make convenience foods like pasta. We do make an effort to eat as much fresh produce as we can manage, but beyond that it's just too much effort. We have too many other things to do like managing our business, and schlepping The Kid to her various activities. Oh yeah, and let's not forget the ubiquitous homework monster, too.
I wonder if the U.S. obesity epidemic has less to do about food and more to do about the general unhappiness and high stress levels that are so pervasive in our country. Some interesting statistics:
- Less than half of American workers are happy with their jobs. I don't know if it's true for everyone, but working a job I hate really saps my energy for everything else. When I come home from work, I'm exhausted and I just want to go to bed so I don't have to think about what I'm going to do the next day.
- In 57% of married couples, both the husband and wife work. If both adults are commuting and working, what gets pushed to the bottom of the priority list? Often, people are grabbing for fast and convenient food, because they are too rushed to do anything else.