• Jazmin Kylene

Millennials Are Taking Their Health Back Into Their Own Hands

Millennials have been put to blame for a variety of issues, from the demise of Applebees to napkins (yes….. napkins).

We’re seen as spoiled and entitled, and virtually helpless without the smartphones that are glued to our palms. But in all fairness, the political and social climate we inherited was not necessarily to our benefit. The boomers before us inherited a fruitful, dynamic country and gradually bankrupted it, seizing all the benefits while leaving nothing behind.

And while I think that for what it’s worth we’ve been doing pretty fine for ourselves, it’s not secret that our mental and physical health statistics could be more promising. More than 2 in 3 young adults are considered to be overweight or have obesity, and it’s been proven that Millennials are experiencing higher levels of anxiety, depression, and thoughts of suicide than generations past.

However, through observation of simply being a part of the collective, I’ve noticed a shift in our attitude, and I think we’re now witnessing the crucial time in which millennials have decided to take matters back into their own hands.

Mental Health

It’s no secret that we are in a day and age that is extremely technologically focused. About 40% of our world’s population is currently active on social media. And while this has allowed a plethora of advancements in our society that past generations would marvel at, it has also been to our detriment in more ways than one. With instant access to what our peers and celebrity idols are doing within the palm of our hands, we often find ourselves comparing where we are to where they are. What we have to what they have. And of course, what we look like to what they look like.

We’re susceptible to all sorts of self image issues when we’re constantly being bombarded with distorted representations of everyone else.

However, as of late, the conversation about mental health has been becoming more and more prominent. Millennials all across the globe are opening up about their experience with depression and using their social media accounts as platforms to speak on it. Conversations ranging from the stigma surrounding therapy to the treatment, or lack thereof, of mental health issues within minority communities are regular discussions on my twitter and Facebook feed.

We are slowly allowing social media, the same medium that somehow worsened our condition, to be the mending tool in bringing us on a path to healing.

And not just social media, but all media platforms as a collective. Mainstream music like J. Cole’s KOD album and Logic’s 1-800-273-8255 have shed light on these once taboo subjects, from addiction to pharmaceuticals that are just masking our symptoms to suicide prevention, and have opened doors for the proper conversations to be had. And this change in popular subject matter didn’t come from out the blue, but rather the media regurgitating what it’s audience clearly wants.

We’ll no longer settle for sweeping under the rug. We’re ready to express and heal and grow.

Food Wisdom

Despite Millennials’ lower rate of obesity in comparison to Generation X and the baby boomers, we eat way, way worse than previous generations.

There’s no sugarcoating it (unless it is a cinnamon roll, of course), we’re drinking too much alcohol and not enough matcha.

This issue isn’t one born from laziness or sheer will to eat ourselves to death, though that’s how its painted out to be. However, it’s derived from the heavy lack of information regarding food wisdom and a lot of money put towards advertising fast foods and Coca Cola. Not to mention the difference in price of wild caught salmon in comparison to a fried fish fillet sandwich.

In short, the accessibility to organic and locally grown foods is much lower than accessibility to genetically modified and unhealthy foods. It’s not that we’d prefer to eat McDonalds, it’s just that in a world of internships/minimum wage jobs and ridiculous tuition bills to pay, McDonalds is a more realistic choice for us.

That has started to drastically change, though, as there has been a huge boom in the Vegan movement, most particularly within the Millennial generation. Though this can be blamed on us wanting to jump onto anything that seems “trendy” at the moment, it has nonetheless brought a ton of awareness into what the food industry has been pumping in our bodies and what proper diet choices really means for us. Through this newfound insight, we’ve decided as a collective that those few extra dollars put toward cooking ourselves a healthier meal deem to be worth it.

Now when you visit college towns, the surrounding scenery is starting to shift. PDQ and Bolay are beginning to replace our local Taco Bells. There’s a Raw Juce at almost every corner. Farmers markets are becoming more and more popular (in fact, my friends and I attend one weekly at our local Whole Foods parking lot!) Businesses need to keep up with their customers in order to properly make an income, and it’s becoming more and more apparent that millennials are learning and are ready to take control back when it comes to what we’re putting in our bodies.

Food is finally being viewed as our fuel and even fast food chains are taking heed, with Chick-fil-A adding menu items like grilled chicken cool wraps and Wendy’s adding power Mediterranean chicken salads. With healthy foods becoming more accessible, I’m confident my generation is on their way to changing the narrative on American obesity.


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