Another lie-in for similar reasons as yesterday, but an evening later night out! I had two glasses of soda water while out with friends yesterday – I honestly didn’t feel jealous or miss having a drink as I’m often the driver, but despite my drink looking like lemonade or a spirit and mixer, I did feel like I was being a martyr (they knew what I was doing and so offered to buy me a drink but I politely refused because not everyone has people who could or would do that) and also like I stood out as not being able to afford a drink.
As I said yesterday, having a limited income doesn’t just impact your diet but your social activities as well and being isolated because you can’t afford to take part, can have a major impact on a person’s mental health, existing friendships because if you have to keep saying ‘no’ when invited out you may stop getting invites and on making new friendships.
Porridge with blackcurrant and carrot sticks later in the morning for a snack.
As I’d run out of soup, I had pasta with baked beans. I realised at the start of this 5-day period that I would need to ration my pasta – usually when I cook pasta, I put in a couple of handfuls but because I needed it to last 6 meals (5 dinners and 1 lunch), I have been having 85g per meal; probably a similar amount to my handfuls but I didn’t want to run out on day 4.
I sometimes (!) get cross with my husband for eating something that I had plans for – either something that was going to be the next day’s lunch or tea or eating too much to leave a whole portion for another day. If this happens, I’ll be annoyed, but there’s always something else in the cupboard / fridge / freezer that can replace the eaten item. This weighing and rationing out of my food supplies hasn’t been stressful for me because I know they won’t be eaten by accident (labelled in tubs in the fridge or just not appealing to hubby!), but I can’t help thinking of families with hungry children or adults in the household who innocently eat something needed for another meal and the cook or breadwinner worrying what can be done, having to give smaller portions to everyone or having to go without so others can eat.
I didn’t have much on today and I usually love a lazy day, but today I was more restless and felt hungry and it just demonstrated how much snacking I do during the day and how many times food punctuates my time. A cup of tea here, a piece or fruit or crisps there, another cup of tea or other drink, pop out to do errands and have a coffee out, invite people over or go round their’s for a drink / something to eat / take some chocolates round. I have been more and more aware how much food and drink is linked to social activities and if you can’t afford it, it can be tough. ‘Shall we get a coffee? Shall we get a takeaway?’ etc. I know I’ve said this kind of thing before, but this has been one of my ‘takeaway’ (no pun intended) lessons.
I roasted the remaining chickpeas as an afternoon snack and they were nice, but I usually put garlic salt on and that would have been tastier… Throughout this 5 days, I haven’t thought about the cost of the gas or electric to cook the food I have been eating, although this would be a concern for many of those who are on a limited income.
This winter (November til March), foodbanks across Norfolk have been partnering with agencies to enable clients using the service to access emergency payments towards gas and electric to help them cook the food we give them and / or heat their home during the colder weather. I’m fortunate that I don’t have to choose which I spend my money on, but many do and it’s a very hard decision.
My last meal of the 5 days was the remaining pasta, tomatoes and sardines. I’m left with 17p, 2 carrots, a glass of soya milk, most of the bag of porridge oats and half a bottle of squash. If I did this again, I would buy different things as I got in a muddle about value for money (hence the big bag of oats when 8 instant sachets would have been tastier and the same price), but at the same time if I was spending £5 tomorrow for 5 days, I’d have an ‘extra’ £1.70 ish to spend, as I’d have oats and squash left from this week. I’m thinking I could have done £40 for the whole 40 days of Lent, so that’s an idea for next year maybe.
I did find that I felt full before I’d finished my bowl of food. I don’t know if this is because I’m getting used to smaller portions, or because I was bored of the same things and just didn’t want any more (I finished it, I don’t like waste) and I’m already thinking about tomorrow and whether I’ll feel ill eating a ‘normal’ 3 meals which will be bigger portions, even if just more fruit and vegetables. I do need to think more about portion control as I haven’t felt bad at all on this ‘diet’, despite my working out that if I had a portion of all my food items (and it was only today that I had a little of everything I bought), I have had between 500-600 calories a day. I don’t have a particularly physical job, but for those that do, I don’t think this is anywhere near enough to maintain a healthy lifestyle on.
I’ve also realised that I eat what I want, not necessarily because I’m hungry – ‘I fancy some chocolate or crisps’ – but I could have had a bowl of porridge if I was actually hungry and I didn’t. Therefore I can’t really have needed anything. Something a mum always says…!
Norwich foodbank – and multiple foodbanks and other charities across the UK – run holiday clubs for low income families to attend for a free hot meal and free fun activities. Part of this is to help provide a meal when free school meals aren’t an option, but the activities side can be just as important, as outlined above – for the children to socialise during the school holidays, but also for the parents. Norwich foodbank’s project FISH (Food (and Fun) In School Holidays) has been running since 2014 and has helped to support 11 clubs, seeing hundreds of children and serving over 6,000 meals (not including seconds, thirds or puddings!). Some of the clubs welcome the whole family, others provide activities for the children and space for parents to relax and meet other families in their community and some allow the parents to have a break while the children are entertained for a couple of hours. Have a look at the facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/FISHfoodbank) for more information or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to know how to receive this support in the holidays or are able to help in some way.