Photo of Campbell’s vegetable soup with 2.5 parts water, lentils, orzo

Robyn Turner, Day 1

It has been 24 hours since I started the welfare challenge. Eating wise, I am carefully rationing my food. I think I have enough, but there is fear of running out.

So far my meals are:

B: Toast with peanut butter, maybe a banana

L: Soup with slice of bread

D: Campbell’s vegetable soup with 2.5 parts water, lentils, orzo (picture below)

Photo of Campbell’s vegetable soup with 2.5 parts water, lentils, orzo

This actually made a fair amount, which should last a few days. It is also filling, contains various sources of fibre, and some protein. A good combination. But, I am concerned of taste fatigue as this is my food for at least half the week, hopefully.

The overall ability to create various dishes and allow for variety in the week went out the window immediately. It is simply not reasonable on $18. Usually, I go to the grocery store and buy produce, yogurt, and various other fresh items; I spend little time in the ‘aisles’ of the grocery store. This week though, everything came from the aisles. And, I am interestingly eating food I do not usually eat. I do not even really enjoy soup, but it is the best option for a low budget.

During the first day, I spent a lot of time just hanging out at the house. I did not want to expend too much energy, but also just found myself constantly thinking of food. Does not help, when that is my profession and life essentially. Once I got moving and distracted myself, I was a lot more cheerful and happy, not as depressed and worried about the week ahead. That seems silly I realize, I mean I just live off $18 for a week, thousands of other individuals in BC live off $18 for months, and years.

I also became more aware of what is is like for someone living on income assistance. I noticed more so, the amount of food related posts to social media sites. It is hard to see all this delicious looking food and not be able to try it. I also noticed other individuals’ comments and behaviours with food. I am guilty as well, but comments like ‘hmm what should I eat’, or the look on faces as others enjoy the tastes of the food in front of them, or ‘I am so full, yet should eat something’…it is different to watch and hear these comments now. They mean more, and impact me. As here I am, listening as always, but also restricted to what I can eat. I am hungry, but if I eat now, I will run out of food for later.

Many of us have days where we complain about cooking, but then, right now, I would love to be able to cook and have more options of what I can prepare myself. Initially, I thought the dinner I made was going to be disgusting, turned out not to be, but still could have made something a lot more enjoyable if circumstances were different. I also would have added more spices.

I am withdrawing from social activities. I am hanging out with friends, but am careful with what the activity is we do. I did not go to a potluck, simply due to the temptation of food I would be presented with.

Another interesting thing I have noted, when I explain to others what I am doing, they call it a ‘diet’. This is odd, as it is not, it is truthfully how individuals in the community live. It is not a choice in desire of losing weight, but something just forced upon them. I found that to be something unexpected.

My weekends, usually involve travel to Prince George for some variety in scenery, and the weekly errands. This week. Nope, not going. Because a trip to PG takes a few others, and the enjoyment I get in PG by visiting the Books and Company store, and other venues, cannot take place. I could find other methods of enjoyment, but no. PG to me, is the place for a tasty weekend latte. And in the cold, snowy weather, it would be too tough to refrain.

Hunger-wise, I feel okay. I did have some low energy initially, I felt it mainly in the head. I likely just did not have enough fuel for my brain to use. Once I had my dinner though, my energy increased and I felt more alive. So really, my challenges are little variety, and resisting cravings.

Will just have to wait and see how the work week goes.

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