The Fat’s in the Fire

I can’t say that I obsess about gaining weight, but living in a developed country where beauty and svelteness are idealized, it is difficult to balance my desire for food with cutting calories.

This morning I ate All-Bran topped with almond milk, low-fat plain yogurt, raisins, and a heaping tablespoon of flax seeds. Three cups of café solo sent me on my way. For lunch I ate a slice of roast beef with mustard and a smidgen of olive oil which I spread on Black Forest rye.

2014 08 15 wc 016It is 3:42 and I am starving. A large bowl of chocolate ice cream would do the trick.

About to perish of hunger, I just ate three of Anna’s Ginger Thins. At one-eighth of an inch thick, the cookies are indeed thin. Checking the side of the box, I learn that a “serving” is six cookies totaling 130 calories. I ate only three cookies. I’m feeling virtuous.

But what I really want is ice cream. I try to top-up the cavity with water. I focus on the cherubic photo posted to the left. The picture is a great reality check. Unless I show some self-constraint, I could look just like this.

Reading at last week’s local paper, the Wet Mountain Tribune, I found an article detailing the school district’s policy for school lunch eligibility. Depending on family income, students may be eligible for free or reduced price meals. Children living in a family of four, for example, would be eligible for free meals if the family’s yearly income was $31,005. If the same family income was at or below $44,123, the children would be eligible for reduced priced meals.

I just paused to eat the three additional cookies due me.


A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall.

A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall.

The state of Colorado sets the guidelines for eligibility. Lunch costs $2.00 for children K-5 and $2.25 for grades 6-12. Breakfast is $1.50 for all children. Children who qualify for reduced meals eat breakfast at no cost, and lunch costs only .40 cents. This is a great savings; however, as a three-term school board member in Fremont County, I know that some families choose to go hungry rather than admit that they qualify for free or reduced lunches.

Parental pride is the motivating factor. Unfortunately, the children pay the price. Schools seldom address stigma issues. Here in Custer County, the payment of meal money is computerized, and the children have no knowledge of who is paying full price and who is eligible for free or reduced meals. Let’s hope that locally, parents acknowledge their need and submit their application.

According to 2012 statistics cited by the U.S. Census Bureau, 15% of Americans fell below the poverty line and experienced food insecurity or insuffiency. Lay-a-bouts? Hardly. 60% of those in poverty were working. And to think that we debate raising the minimum wage! When will we raise the minimum wage and tie future increases to inflation?

My hunger gnaws at me. I eat two carrots, but the carrots don’t cut it.

Fire and brimstone await the weak. Repent!

Fire and brimstone await the weak. I should repent.


A couple of weeks ago, I heard about the Global Poverty Project to “Live below the line.” The challenge is to eat on $1.50 a day for five days. Subtracting the allotted $7.50 from the amount that you typically spend on five days of food, you are encouraged to send the monies saved to UNICEF. The purpose is three-fold: first, you have an abbreviated experience of eating like most people in the developing world (or the poorest of the poor in America); second, you are challenged to eat healthier food and avoid empty calories; and third, you can contribute the money saved to a worthy cause.

The UNICEF recipe book at <> is pretty interesting. You can make their “40 second omelet” for $0.86 per serving or cook stir fried rice for $1.10 per portion. Which makes me wonder… if I spend .86 cents on breakfast, I’m left with only .64 cents for lunch and dinner. As for the stir fry, how can I eat breakfast and lunch for a mere .40 cents? And yet, many have taken the challenge and sent their savings to UNICEF. You can find their five-day diaries on-line.

    I’m may try to live below the line.  If not this week, the next.

Or possibly the next week after that.  

2014 08 03 008My intentions are pure – note the flower direct from the heart, held in my hand, and offered to you. But I’m wearing a mask. Can you trust my intentions when I can’t trust them myself?

I’ll let you know if I take the five-day, $1.50 per day challenge. Meanwhile, you take the challenge and let me know how it goes.

           The fat is in the fire. Hear it sizzle.



About timeout2

I have lived 100 lives. I write essays, short stories, poetry, grocery lists and notes to myself. If I am ever lost, look for a paper trail, but be careful not to trip over any books that lie scattered here and there. I am a reader. I am a reader in awe of writers. When I don't live in Westcliffe, Colorado, I live in London where I am a long-time member of Word-for-Word - Crouch End.
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6 Responses to The Fat’s in the Fire

  1. Brent says:

    You framed the conversation and issue well both personally, locally and nationally. Hunger is alive and well so many families are not so well.

    • timeout2 says:

      The disconnect between the “haves” and the “have-nots” is huge. I’ve been flirting with the notion of proposing a three-part series to Colorado Central – poverty in their circulation catchment. A compelling story but it would call for a ton of research if I were to reference every town. What’s a girl to do?

  2. Robyn Wallerich says:

    Veg gardens and greenhouses help!

    • timeout2 says:

      Dear Robyn, Thinking about the UNICEF recipe book, I remembered that when my parents moved to Pueblo, one of my mother’s first jobs was to go into “the projects.” Her task was to prepare a healthy meal using the commodities on offer. Commodities are still with us, but I think the healthy cooking demonstrations have fallen by the wayside. A sign of the times.

  3. 2000detours says:

    $1.50 per day??? I spend that much on my Diet Coke.

  4. timeout2 says:

    Dear Zen, Thanks for reading. I like your blog, but…How, may I ask, can Zen fueled on Diet Coke? Shouldn’t you be drinking green tea?

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