Day 6: Food Cry-me

In less than 24 hours, the challenge will be over for me. But for 185,000 British Columbians (over 35,000 being children), it will go on indefinitely.

After last evening’s lack of physical and mental strength, I checked the inventory of what was left of my food and went on a bit of a splurge. Yesterday was brutal. Makes me wonder how traumatizing it would be to have a hypoglycemic episode where confusion sets in.

It was the weekend, so I scrambled up the last 1/3 package of soft tofu with an egg and toasted a slice of bread for breakfast. Don’t know if it was the 10 hours of sleep I got yesterday cause I had no strength to do anything else, or that my body was getting used to the lack of food.

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By 1000h, I was hungry again… Cooked up half of the oatmeal left (the other half is for tomorrow) and did the same with the raisins. Checked the yogurt container – looks like there’s only a half cup left. I’ll save it for the finishing end.

I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, seemed to keep going back to see how much food left. My thought: I could eat everything except for what I wanted to keep for tomorrow. Wow, what a privilege. Only because this challenge is ending soon for me and I have that choice to make. I found a bowl of frozen tomato and lentil soup and heated it up with one slice of bread and carried on to make my meals for tomorrow.

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I have a quarter of a quiche left which I will save for tomorrow’s supper. I’ve also got a little under a half of canned tomatoes, a bit of butternut squash, the last of my frozen vegetables, a can of chickpeas, 2 eggs and 2 slices of. You could tell that I was paranoid I wouldn’t last the whole week…. I threw the crushed tomatoes, squash and frozen vegetables and can of chickpeas into a pot and heated it up. By 2000h, I was hungry again, heated up half of the stew and inhaled it. I spent the day cleaning up the house, packing and thinking about what to say at tomorrow’s Town Hall meeting…It took way longer than I would have expected given my brain seems to be fogged up more often than not this week.  But also because of the distracted thoughts. Could it be the hunger, or the stress of tomorrow’s arrival?

Nutrient Meal TOTAL Recommended
Breakfast Lunch Dinner Per Meal Per Day
Carbohydrate (g) 69 57 70 16

6

30 to 60 90 to 120
Protein (g) 15 14 10 39 15 to 20 45 to 60
Canada’s Food Guide Servings
Vegetables/Fruit 0.3 2 2.6 4.9 7 to 8
Grains 2 1 0 3 6 to 7
Meat and Alternatives 1 0.5 0.6 2.1 2
Dairy and Alternatives 0 0 0 0 2
Added Fat 0.75 0.75 0 1.5 2 to 3

Total: 1216 kcal (65-75% estimated caloric needs).

Physical activity: 3342 steps. Too cold to get out of the warmth of my bed, unless it was to make it to the food…

 

Today’s cravings were the worst. All I could think of is what I want to binge on when this is all over. My mind drifted from the Cheesecake Factory to Charlie’s Chocolates. It was everywhere except on topic. I can imagine this might be what it might feel like when hitting the last grain of rice in the food ration and waiting for the next welfare cheque distribution. I know if I had to go on like this for another week and got my $18 bucks to spend tomorrow, I’d probably buy myself a grand buffet! It would be so nice to be satisfied just once.

The cravings were so bad I ended up walking repeatedly into the kitchen, contemplating if I should just have that handful of chocolate that seems to be consuming my thoughts. Again and again, I found my feet leading me towards the kitchen and wondering what I was doing there. By the fifth time, I fell off the wagon. Food infidelity. I grabbed the sweets and walked towards the hallway and ate it quickly and discretely. It seems ridiculous, it was just the dog and I in my own home, neighbours who might be able to see through the kitchen window don’t know or care what I am doing. But for some reason, it felt like I stole something. Guilt, shame and disappointment set in, but my cravings did not feel any remorse for my actions. All such great feelings to attach to food, eh? If I didn’t know any better, I probably would have thought this was an entry about eating disorders… Perhaps the beginning of another vicious cycle?

I also thought: if I were to do this all the time, I probably would end up stealing something. In such a prosperous province, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were reported thefts of food with the current food costs and insufficient welfare rates. Food is a fundamental human right, and there is no reason that someone should be going hungry in our wealthy, beautiful British Columbia. Most of the times, we think “malnutrition” or “hunger” as extremely thin children, with only skin covering their bones. But what about the “hidden hunger” of food insecurity? If we consider it a crime when a child who did not have food for breakfast goes to school hungry and steals another kid’s snack for lunch, then I say it is a crime that we have enough food to feed the province, but still allow children to go to school hungry. Nobody chooses to be on welfare, especially not children; we do not choose the family or living situation we are born into. Unfortunately, in allowing such food insecurity to persist, we are stripping them away from reaching their intellectual potential and opportunities for their future. We are enabling a poverty trap and raising them in a society that segregates people into classes and teaches them that nothing can be done to change it. We are teaching them that it is okay to turn a blind eye. That, should be the real crime here.

The challenge is nearing an end for me and I have been so fortunate to have so much support from friends and family- thank you to everyone for your kind words and support.

My only hope is that this has got some minds boggling and some people talking about the issues at hand, need for change, and policies that could improve the access of food for the 4% of the province’s population – so that they too can have their voices be heard and get the support they need. I encourage everyone to continue to open discussions regarding the state of food insecurity in our communities and advocate for change; to meet people and talk about their experiences of ‘hidden hunger’. Food is culture. How we, as a society, deal with food insecurity defines the culture of our humanity.

Further, I extend an open invitation to tomorrow’s Town Hall meeting at the Council Chamber at Vancouver City Hall from 2-4pm. I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on the subject.

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