A graphic, provided by No Kid Hungry, illustrating educational perils of hunger.

Week 2 already? 2013 is flying by, as is this challenge, believe it or not. While I’ve posted a good amount about how I’m doing, a friend reminded me today that I’m saying less about how I’m feeling. Thank you for that 🙂

I’ve included the graphic to the left to literally illustrate one of the biggest pushes for me to support food instability: the consequences of having unstable food sources. Students who rely on reduced or free lunch programs at school, occasionally aren’t eating at home on weekends or when there’s no school (holidays, snow/hurricane days, etc.). And I learned when I was working with Second Harvest of the Big Bend a harrowing statistic: for students who don’t have a stable diet over the weekend, top cognitive performance doesn’t return until Wednesday of that week. Think of how many functional educational days those students are losing just by not having consistent access to food. That’s why the backpack program at Second Harvest was so important to me when I worked with them, and that’s why I worry far less about how I’m feeling over the course of this challenge. This is temporary, this is voluntary, and this is in no way as detrimental as what those kids are going through.

I will preface my statements by saying this: I am admittedly impossible when I’m hungry. Anyone who has seen me in a meeting at 12:15 when I was told we’d be done before lunch has seen this. I am regimented in scheduling time to eat, and am constantly grazing in between. I am lucky to nearly always have food nearby, and have some trouble when there isn’t.

So to answer the questions posed of me:

Sorry for the blurriness of the capture, I’m not as good at it on a Mac yet.

Do you feel like you’re eating enough?
Yes and no. Having lost a significant amount of weight in the last few years, and having participated in sports where eating disorders are common, I understand what I should be eating, and what amounts are appropriate and what amounts are too little. That being said, I have become very aware of the sounds of my stomach. (Sounds like a great opportunity to write a parody Maya Angelou poem about stomach sounds, but I respect Dr. Angelou far too much for that!) I’m trying to combat those feelings with some of the same strategies that I used to stave off hunger when losing weight:

  • Eat slowly. I have a tendency, the origin of which I cannot determine, to eat as though my food will be taken from me. But because eating slowly allows your brain to determine when you’re full, I’m taking my time to make sure that I don’t beat my brain to the proverbial punch.
  • Drink more water. More often than not, when I think I’m hungry, it’s because I’m actually thirsty and have forgotten the difference. This is pretty common. Making sure I’m hydrated as I do this is helping me to understand that when I’m hungry, I’m hungry, and that’s when I should eat.
  • Make what you eat, count. I have a post planned for later in the challenge to talk about the quality of food permitted by the government to be purchased on food stamps. Lots of convenience foods are included in that, and I could buy them if I wanted. But because I don’t want to process those quick foods early and then be on a hunt for more food, I’m opting to leave those off the menu for the most part. So what am I eating? Lots of protein, complex carbs, and lots of veggies. Those things last longer, and allow my food budget to stretch not just money-wise, but over the course of the week.

Are you going to bed hungry?
No, but that was an adjustment. Whereas I’m typically an early-bird eater (dinner before 6), I now move it later (closer to 9) so I don’t have to worry about the long stretch until morning when I eat. Particularly over break, when I don’t wake up until late morning, it is my natural clock or a sound in the hallway that wakes me, rather than my stomach.

Are you bored with your meals?
No, not really. I like to get creative with what I eat, and this challenge hasn’t really changed that. Aside from the occasional craving for something not in the fridge (which is generally sparked by seeing something when I’m out, and not anything internal), I’m happy with what I’m eating and enjoy the challenge presented of making my favorite foods as affordable as possible.

And as for the planning…

I like to go in having a plan. Ask anyone who has seen me apply for a job, search for an apartment, or go on vacation. But I’m trying to use fewer resources at my disposal, in hopes of making this a more authentic experience. For week 2, I went in with an idea of what I want to eat this week (breakfast: peanut butter and banana bagels, lunch: either pasta salad or tuna salad with tomatoes, dinner: enchiladas), and making it work. Less of a list going in, less advance cost analysis, and more just going in and getting my shopping done. 

So as you can see, this is a challenge that is testing my standard operating procedure in a great many ways. But it is, as previously stated, a challenge. And like the saying goes, “if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” I look forward to the changes I’ll see in myself, as it pertains to my thoughts about and treatment of food, by the end of the month. I hope you’ll stay with me as I discover them!

Previous Posts:
Transformers (Meals in Disguise)

Crunching Some Numbers

Pondering Privilege

The Pantry Problem

Oh SNAP! Introducing SNAP Challenge 2013

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