This is what I have left after a week of Living Below the Line ... a half bag of Uncle Ben's. Slightly more than half a bag, actually, since I only cooked two cups dry and I still have some of that left, too. Tomorrow I'll make some, lengthy, insightful post about what lessons I'm taking away from this experience (and all flippancy aside, I have learned quite a bit). But for now, in these closing hours of the challenge week, I just want to mention a few of the physical changes I've noticed in myself after living like this for five days.
~~Most days, when meal time rolled around, I ate way too fast. And it was very hard to slow down, because there was this little voice in my head squealing "OMG! Food!" like a toddler on a sugar high. Of course, just like your mom always warned you, when you eat too fast you end up with a tummy ache. And I did. Frequently.
~~The lack of vegetable fiber (and other things, I'm sure) caused a definite change in the way my digestive system processed food.
~~The caffeine withdrawal headache finally disappeared by Wednesday evening.
~~Lethargy, although I'm not certain how much of that was nutritional and how much was lack of caffeine. It's surprising how much coffee and tea actually sustain me. Thank goodness I'm not a soda drinker or it could have been worse.
~~I didn't notice a marked decrease in cognitive abilities until today, when things like being more forgetful than normal, having to recount things three or four times because I kept losing count or wouldn't get the right number, making lots of simple mistakes that shouldn't have been an issue all made an appearance. It was frustrating to look at someone I've known for years and not only call them by the wrong first name, but completely forget their last name, Not cool.
I believe I had it slightly easier than some who've taken this challenge simply because I had a little bit more food at my disposal this week. The buying power of the dollar in the rural area where I live is stronger than in other, more urban areas. If I lived in a city -- London, NY, Los Angeles -- I would have had a horrific time feeding myself even half as well on $1.50 a day. Nonetheless, I went to bed hungry, got up hungry, and by the third day thoroughly disliked almost everything I had to eat. It may have filled my stomach, even if only temporarily, but it never satisfied.
But isn't that the point? No matter where you live, big city, small town, rural village, $1.50 does not provide enough nourishing food and drink to sustain you in a healthy fashion. Eventually your body begins to suffer. There are so many children in this world who live below the extreme poverty line. They may try to go to work or to school hungry, or they may not even have those options. Someone needs to help give them those options. Someone needs to help feed them and nourish them and give them hope for a brighter future. Because these children, these little ones who are stricken with hunger and disease and who never learn to read and write, they are our future. They deserve to have a future, one without pain and suffering.
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