Monday, November 9, 2015

November 9, 2015 - Day 7 Welfare Food Challenge

I think most people have stopped their challenge but I will continue on until the end of today (some 4.5 hours away at this point though I intend to be asleep well before the stroke of midnight). The last two days have actually been pretty good - I attribute that to the change to oatmeal instead of cottage cheese and fruit for breakfast.

It has been an up and down week. The last two days, as I say, have actually been okay. Days four and five were very difficult. I am going to be looking carefully at how I have been eating - although I don't know that I want to continue to consume so few calories I think 1.5 times what I am eating now would be plenty and keeping junk (refined carbs, added sugar) mostly out and limiting things that I suspect are bad for both my body and my emotional stability (deli meat, bacon, high glycemic index fruit) are going to be on the agenda going forward.

Let us hope that none of us have to do the welfare challenge next year.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

November 8, 2015 - Day 6 Welfare Food Challenge

Penultimate day of the Welfare Food Challenge went quite well. I slept in until about 7:30 am (that doesn't sound that late but I bet I was asleep by 9:30 pm). The cold seems to have moved into my chest - I have a productive cough - but by the evening (I am writing this at 7:00 pm) it seems to have diminished and my nose seems clear. I don't seem as hungry today or perhaps just haven't noticed it so much because I have been busy working on the computer. I have had tasks to do but none were particularly creative or challenging - thus they kept me occupied without straining my lack-of-calorie fuzzied brain.

Tomorrow I will try to keep myself similarly occupied doing some data entry kind of work and going out to meet with someone in the afternoon. And then in a little over 24 hours (I am going to continue right up until the end of November 9th) this year's Welfare Food Challenge will end. Maybe we won't have to do it again next year because the government will have raised the rates to a reasonable level. What a win that would be!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

November 7, 2015 - Day 5 Welfare Food Challenge

Blah day. Very hungry and not focusing very well. Still haven't completely shaken off this cold. I can see that if I had to function at this level all the time I would be a very different person. Cheated and had a forbidden teaspoonful of peanut butter spread on a perfectly legal piece of toast. Switched out cottage cheese for the equivalently priced amount of oatmeal (on the recommendation of a friend with many years of living on welfare experience). It's good to have something hot and it seems to have more staying power. Glad there are only two days left.

Friday, November 6, 2015

November 6, 2015 - Day 4 Welfare Food Challenge

Today seemed extremely difficult. I woke up quite early - around 6:00 am but felt so horrible I tried my best to go back to sleep. Headachey, a bit of nausea and chills. I have encountered this before but typically after a TOO RICH meal the night before and/or a small amount of alcohol. So who knows what is going on - perhaps it is just a mild cold that I don't seem to be able to shake off as easily as usual. I managed to fall back asleep and slept until around 9:00 am (very thankful I didn't have any morning responsibilities to get up for) at which point though still not feeling great I got up.

Went to visit a friend this evening and we chatted about the challenge - which he lived for real for nearly two decades many years ago. He suggested I'd be better off having oatmeal rather than fruit and cottage cheese for breakfast and maybe I will try that for the last three days. I have some oats and I think I can remember what I paid for them. I left my MP3 player at his house - brain is fuzzy it seems - and was just too tired to walk back and get it by the time I realized I didn't have it.

Glad there are only 3 days left. Looking forward to bed where I will have a reprieve from thinking about food - hope I don't dream about it.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

November 5, 2015 - Day 3 Welfare Food Challenge

Thursday I usually head out with my running/walking group (Thursday Morning Gang - TMG) and then we go somewhere after for breakfast. I considered not going but that seemed to be playing into the idea of social isolation (which many people on a low income will doubtless experience because unlike me they may not belong to a group where the fact that 30 out of 31 people are eating at the cafe makes it okay for the one who is just having water). I got up and announced why I wasn't eating.

I am not really sure what people thought - I could see some people thought that it wasn't their problem how difficult life is for people on assistance. Others commiserated but passed on various stories they'd heard about the integrity of agencies trying to help the needy as well as stories from friends about how those in need were 'picky' about what was being offered. And of course more than one offered me some of their food which I politely refused. It was a good discussion and hopefully if there is time I will also bring it up tomorrow when I attend an Island Health event in their Knowledge to Action series.

Today is going okay - I am typically splitting each meal into two parts to try and keep hunger pangs at bay. I'm also drinking my 'fruit refuse soup' inspired in part by the work of Cinda Chavich (so the peel of the banana I have for breakfast as well as the core of the apple, a dash of cinnamon and boil all with water for a few minutes) - having this slightly sweet, warm drink is helping. I also put the chopped up banana peel into the lentils and it was perfectly okay - after boiling it has no taste and blended in with the spicy lentils perfectly. And the potatoes - oven roasted with salt, pepper, oil and fresh rosemary - are heavenly. I am looking forward to them for dinner. The lentils expanded amazingly in cooking - I had measured out 1 lb (454 grams) and when I weighed out the finished product it was ~2kg. Something to keep in mind. Here's a photo of my wonderful potatoes.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

November 4, 2015 - Day 2 of the Welfare Food Challenge

Today actually went okay. What I did was split up breakfast into two smaller portions (so 1/4 of an apple, 1/2 banana and 2 tbsp of cottage cheese) and had the first early (around 7:30 am) and the second around 10:30. Then lunch of an egg salad sandwich and a small chunk of carrot (~50 gm or so - which is hardly anything). For dinner I had lentils and oven roasted potatoes that were seasoned with salt, pepper, oil (about 2 tbsp) and chopped fresh rosemary.

I know we are not supposed to eat from a garden but the rosemary is from the yard (not garden!) of a neighbour down the street and I know when I was on a walk about downtown today with renowned urban planner Brent Toderian (and other members of the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network and the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition) I saw rosemary growing in planters outside a cafe right on Government Street. So I respectfully assert that if you want rosemary for your potatoes you can find it for free in Victoria!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

November 3, 2015 - Day 1 of the Welfare Food Challenge

When is being sick (as in sore throat, congestion, fatigue and a lack of interest in anything but sleep) a good thing? When you have to cut back on eating. I woke up yesterday (Monday, November 2) feeling kind of yucky - sore throat and a bit feverish - but had stuff to do so shrugged it off. By 6:00 pm on Monday I was shivering, my throat was throbbing and I went to bed at 8:00 pm and slept through till about 6:00 am when I got up to send some emails regarding activities I had planned which I now bailed on.

So my first day of the challenge has been fine since I didn't feel like eating much. I did have coffee once my throat had stopped protesting too much and I've also eaten a mandarin orange and 1/4 of an apple, 1/2 a banana and 2 tbsp of cottage cheese. I've cooked the lentils and will do the potatoes later this evening. For dinner I'm going to have a toasted egg salad sandwich and 1/4 of an apple, 1/2 a banana and 2 tbsp of cottage cheese for dessert. I am also trying something a bit novel (inspired by Cinda Chavich author of the Waste Not, Want Not cookbook). In the picture below you'll see banana peels, orange peel and apple cores being boiled with a dash of cinnamon - it produces a slightly sweet drink that I hope will help to keep hunger pangs away a bit. I may also chop the (stewed) banana peels up and add them to the lentils. We'll see.