Let’s play a visualization game. I’d ask you to close your eyes, but since I don’t have voice over for this blog post, I’ll just ask you to read slowly and really think about this:
Think of the last time you were hungry. A time when your stomach ached with emptiness and growled for food. It had been hours since you last ate anything substantial and the hollowness inside was pulsing up, your head is starting to hurt. You start to feel defeated, starving, and want to go on the search for something to put in your stomach. But you can’t, maybe because you’re in a long meeting, on your long commute home, or just at the end of a long workday. The headache sets in and you can feel the pulsing of your heartbeat in your temples. Now, you’re not only hungry, but you’re hangry (the anger that sets in when you’re very hungry). You’re irritable, annoyed, and your fuse is getting shorter and shorter. You can’t think of anything except food.
Now imagine you feel like that every minute of every day.
That’s one example of how it feels to be poor. Hangry is such an appropriate term, though obviously one created by higher-income people. How do I know that? Because when you’re poor and you can’t afford enough food, you’re not hangry, that’s simply a feeling you carry through life.
As we all (probably) know, health disparities in the U.S. disproportionately effect low-income minority populations. Maybe you’re someone who has experienced that or maybe you haven’t – either way, staying healthy comes down to a few key things:
Here are 10 Alternative Steps for Staying Healthy
Don’t be poor. If you can, stop. If you can’t, try not to be poor for long.
Don’t have poor parents.
Own a car.
Don’t work in a stressful, low paid manual job.
Don’t live in damp, low quality housing.
Be able to afford to go on a foreign holiday and sunbathe.
Practice not losing your job and don’t become unemployed.
Take up all benefits you are entitled to, if you are unemployed, retired or sick or disabled.
Don’t live next to a busy major road or near a polluting factory.
Learn how to fill in the complex housing benefit/asylum application forms before you become homeless and destitute.
Source: Raphael and Rieder, Community Action for Heart Health: Equity not Exercise
I hope you see where I’m going with this…as easy as it is for us middle and upper class folk to stay healthy and we marvel “well, no one needs to have a gym membership to exercise” – think again, because that’s not the only factor.