Healthy food is important, but not available to everyone, says Network Against Poverty on Twitter. Affordable and healthy shopping requires planning, time and mental space. Exposed people would miss it. Is this really the case and how does it come about?
If you have to live with little money, you have to make choices again and again. Food is only one of the components, just like clothes or the energy bill. Constantly having to weigh things causes cognitive strain, says Emely de Vet, professor of consumption and healthy lifestyle at Wageningen University & Research.
“Because of this cognitive load, people are less able to think long-term and their organizational capacity decreases. Bigger questions, such as whether the rent can be paid this month, come before health. the charge more sensitive to rewards, e.g. . example in the form of unhealthy food.”
Due to the fats, sugars and salt present, unhealthy food has a higher nutritional value than healthy food, says De Vet. “These nutrients give our brain a nice feeling. You’re also more likely to seek them out because of certain circumstances.”
In places where people with more and less money live together, you often see that people with less money experience greater dissatisfaction.
Budget coach Mat Heugen, who has been guiding people with little money for more than six years, agrees. “People I help often have chronic stress and are usually in a real survival mode. Studies show it makes it harder to make decisions and can even lower IQ by up to thirteen points.”
Unhealthy food is often cheaper than healthy food
In addition, unhealthy food is often cheaper and convenient, both experts believe. In addition, people with little money often live in places where the food supply is more unhealthy. “This makes it objectively even more difficult to make healthy choices. In places where people with more and less money live together, you often see that people with less money experience greater dissatisfaction,” explains De Vet.
This is also known as relative deprivation. This implies a subjective dissatisfaction caused by the position in relation to another. The feeling that you have less than someone else makes people more likely to look for reward.
Heugen sees this reflected in his daily work, especially with people in debt. “The average number of creditors is twelve per case. As a result, there’s not much left below the line, and people are more likely to think: they’re not going to take this away from me.”
In addition, the budget coach indicates that some people with less money are already happy that they can eat a sandwich with cheese. “There is simply no money left for a garnish of lettuce, tomato and cucumber. Most people are very creative, but are more likely to do it with bulk products such as pizza and other ready-to-eat products, pasta and soft drinks.”
De Vet sees many of these products getting bigger in recent decades. For example, there are kilo bangers and XL bags of chips or supersize menus. “If you’re on a shoestring, these bulk packages are attractive because you’re literally getting more value for your money.”
Is healthy eating a luxury?
In addition, there are often rituals and traditions associated with eating patterns. These can vary enormously from educational level, says De Vet. People with a lower income are more likely to suffer from overweight, obesity and diabetes. The so-called diseases of prosperity have become diseases of poverty, notes De Vet. “Healthy living is a luxury that not everyone can afford.”
Although there are affordable products that contain sufficient nutrients, a healthy diet is more expensive than an unhealthy diet, says De Vet.
People with low income and a lower level of education live an average of seven years less and about fifteen years less with good perceived health. She thinks it is absurd and unfair. “Being overweight is not always a personal choice, but also a societal problem. Especially if more than 75 percent of the supermarket offer does not fit into the Five Wheel, and the offers are largely unhealthy.”