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.
It 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.
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.
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 <unicefusa.org/livebelowtheline.com> 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.
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.