Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Day 3 of the Hunger Challenge

The third day of the Hunger Challenge was a challenge. And I came in at $3.99. Which, while under the challenge amount, was over what I’d anticipated.

But boredom (both during the day and with the food), some variety, and some sneaky store marketing all contributed. My staple for lunch/dinner is the pasta salad, which is mostly starch. Not a horrible thing. But, as with any food type, it shouldn’t be the mainstay of one’s diet – it should be a part of one’s diet.

Not able to face another breakfast of that cereal (stomach would clench up just thinking about it), I opted for half of a peanut butter sandwich at home and buying a banana on the way to work. The sign at the store said “Bananas – 2/$1”. 50¢ for a banana (since I was only buying one) seemed high, but I could make it work. The price for one banana, though, was not 50¢ - it was 59¢. Which I confirmed by returning this morning and checking the sign. In smaller print it said “59¢ each or”. While not a case of lying to the public, when you’re in a hurry, you won’t notice it. And that extra 9¢ (when you’re looking at spending $4/day) is substantial.

I also really, really wanted some variety with lunch, so picked up a bag of chips and ate about 1/3 the bag. In the afternoon, I really, really wanted some chocolate, so picked up a candy bar and was able (with lots of will power) to only eat one-half of it.

Distaste (or envy?) cropped up during the lunch hour while watching people walking along with boxes of pizza slices, bags from fast food restaurants, or containers from take-out places. I’d think “Do you know how much money you’re wasting on that stuff?” while, secretly wanting to chuck it all and go get something else. Even after a few days, the same food (even if tasty) becomes boring, hauling around your lunch becomes tedious, being constantly reminded that “you can’t afford it” becomes burdensome.

A friend jokingly mentioned that she thought I was “playing at being poor”. At first, that stung. But she is right. At least subconsciously, I know that this isn’t permanent, that I can stop any time, and that even my reactions are based on a conceit. But I don’t think that invalidates them or lessens any lesson I may take from this exercise. Because, I imagine, I’d have the same (if stronger) feelings if I were in this situation in real life.

Some positive notes though, I have: become pretty good at portion control in terms of price, actually felt somewhat better since watching what the amounts and quality of what I eat, realizing that feeling hungry is not the same thing as “OMG I’m starving and will die if I don’t have [something]”.

1 comment:

  1. I know what you mean about playing about being poor. I felt that way, too, last year during the first challenge. Now I think I'm helping to bring awareness and information about hunger in America to others. It also really radicialized my commitment to these issues.

    One tip, I found it easier to not worry about the total for the day as to come in at or under budget for the week -- gives you more play for individual meals.