What is it like to have only £1 a day to budget for food? Many of us have found out this week by doing just that and I have been tweeting and blogging my reactions.
I'm eating a boiled egg on toast for my Friday (day off, final day) breakfast then am off to the gym. Will be interesting to see how my usual workout feels today. Probably a little cheese on toast for lunch and then a vegetable risotto for supper. One coffee, free, from Waitrose. Have had the last sachet of tea. It turned out to be Earl Grey. Bit of a surprise first drink of the day.
For me this has been quite emotional and private, although I have enjoyed the conversations with people, raising awareness of how it feels to be food poor.
But there has been another side to it, for me. Those who know me personally and have met me will be aware that I am relatively thin. I have a high metabolism and don't put on weight easily. I have never dieted in my life. A rude friend once said I wouldn't get fat if I ate a greased pig. This guy had eaten all the greased pigs himself anyway.
I've heard all the jokes. I disappear when I stand sideways. I wear clothes so you can see me coming (I wrote that one). I run round in the shower to get wet. And so on.
So what is it like to diet? I look at the obese and wonder why they don't simply eat less food. I am not sympathetic. So the chance to have to do it was a personal challenge.
Some of my friends have taken the challenge whilst consuming biscuits and cakes at meetings. Church life is full of meetings with biscuits and cakes. I have often made a point of objecting but that ship seems to have sailed. Put fruit on the table not cake. Don't have pudding parties every week. Last night at our Archdeacon's Visitation the table was loaded with cake. We run some of our children's groups with cakes seeming to be the target. We don't breed healthy Christians.
So I wondered what it would be like to wander round a room full of biscuits and not have one. I specifically asked members of my church to bring nice biscuits to a meeting on Wednesday knowing I was going to arrange them on plates, pass them round and not have one. I avoided the cake last night.
My challenge to me was to identify with the dieter. And of course, I stop the diet tomorrow. But I have done it. No cakes. No biscuits. Minimal sugars. No alcohol. No chocolate or sweets. I turned down offers of food from neighbours, didn't eat at a leaving do and refused lunch with a colleague and left after accepting a single coffee (very nice one though).
Throw in a bowl of fruit and a little protein and I swear I could live like this if I needed to. It has been more interesting than hard. A bit like an early pre-anaesthesia surgeon operating on him or her self. Ignores pain; enjoys outcome.
If you look back at my week in detail I am sure you will find failings in budget. Stuff I used and forgot to count. Cooking oil (I used my cheapest and not the nice stuff). A little salt and occasional pepper. Probably spent about £5.20 all in.
But I am pleased with myself. Thanks for talking about it with me. That has helped.
Psychologically, I have kept busy this week. The thinking time I normally love has been hi-jacked and I have found myself, when able, starting to think about food.
Our nation is becoming obese. We need to stop being cakeocentric and chipaholic.