Living Below the Line: Day 5

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The last day of the challenge. I spent it working from home, succumbing at last to the diarrhoea that’s been plaguing me all week.

The thing I have to complain about today is water. I’ve been drinking nothing but water and I’m sick of it. Water, of course, is one of the hidden privileges of this challenge – you are allowed an unlimited supply as thought it’s free. It isn’t. We have water rates here in the UK, which belie the original investment in sewerage and mains that set up the supply. That investment is still ongoing in many countries where you can’t take water for granted.

No bean curry today, probably to the relief of my digestive system. I had the pasta sauce as soup instead. I think it makes a better soup than a pasta sauce.

As far as the eating goes, the challenge is done.

The brilliant news is, thanks to the generosity of my friends, we have raised £185!!! I think that’s brilliant considering my target was £100.

Thank you to everyone who’s donated some money. I also want to give a special mention to the guys at work who have been really encouraging as I’ve sat down to lemon curd sandwiches for breakfast and the dreaded bean curry for lunch.

So that’s how I did in fundraising, how about nutritionally?

This is what I bought.

Item Price Cost
1 Wholemeal loaf (800g) 0.50 0.50
1 Jar of Lemon Curd 0.22 0.22
2 PacketsFrozen Mixed Veg 0.75 1.50
2 Tins Tomatoes 0.31 0.62
4 Tins Kidney Beans 0.21 0.84
1 Tin New Po 0.15 0.15
1 Jar Curry Sauce 0.26 0.26
1 Packet Stock Cubes 0.15 0.15
1 Packet Spaghetti 0.19 0.19
1 Packet Digestive Biscuits 0.30 0.30
4.73

I didn’t eat all of that in the end. I only used two tins of kidney beans and one and a bit packets of frozen veg. Once I put that all together, this is how it matches against the Reference Nutrient Intake (the stuff you get with traffic lights on supermarket ready-meals).

RNI* £1 Diet %RNI
Energy (kCal) 1940.0 1622.3 83.6
Protein (g) 45.0 50.1 111.2
Sugars (g) 270.0 266.0 98.5
Fat (g) 70.0 32.0 45.7
Saturates (g) 20.0 12.4 62.2
Fibre (g) 24.0 33.2 138.5
Salt (g) 6.0 6.0 100.7
Sodium (g) 2.4 2.5 102.7
Calcium (mg) 700.0 1132.0 161.7
Iron (mg) 8.7 12.7 145.6
Vitamin A (ug) 700.0 2402.1 343.2
Folate (mg) 200.0 220.9 110.4
Vitamin C (mg) 40.0 51.0 126.6

*Reference Nutrient Intake
Figures from the FSA Manual of Nutrition 11th Ed

I think that’s pretty good. I’m on or slightly under for the stuff they warn you about and overachieving, frankly, on the vitamins and other good stuff. The calories are a little worrying at 15% lower than they should be. It wasn’t always that way. When I first put the shopping list together I was determined to get some fresh fruit or vegetable in there. I changed and trimmed it until I could afford an 84p bag of apples. I thought this was wonderful until I worked out the nutrition stats. I was only getting half the calories I should be and the fresh apples weren’t adding that much to the vitamins etc. I ditched the apples from the shopping list and bought the tinned potatoes, pasta and digestive biscuits.

That’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned from this. All the fresh fruit and veg and good nutrition in the world won’t work if you don’t get the calories you need. Sometimes on a very restricted budget you have to eat crap just to get the calories in. (The fact that good, fresh food is so expensive is something I’ll come back to in another post.)

The second thing I’ve learned is that not just armies, but everyone, marches on their stomach. Having nice, appetising food to eat makes the day go better. It doesn’t matter how nutritious something is, if you don’t want to eat it, it’s a misery to have to. We also need to fix the food supply economics in this country so that the only tasty food available to poor people is not junk food.

Third thing I’ve learned is that I’m a coffee addict. Not physically but mentally – I do like my cup of coffee in the morning!

Fourthly, I’ve already mentioned this, but I have very generous and encouraging friends.

Fifth, we are all privileged in this country to have an all year, constant abundance of food. That is just not true for a lot of countries. And I am among the privileged of the privileged to be able to buy to eat what I want when I want it without, really, counting the cost.

Thank you all a third time (it can’t be said enough) for helping me raise so much money. And thank you for reading my tales of the challenge.

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6 responses »

  1. I’m really impressed at your nutrition stats! I honestly thought that pile of… things *g* would fall short. But it really brought home how far that is from what we as privileged folks eat and indeed drink. And that is a fantastic sum! Well done!

    • All I can say is – eat lots of veggies. They don’t do much for your calorie count but they really help with the other nutrition bits.

      And I’ve only just notified about this comment – sorry if you thought I was ignoring you!

  2. Some great posts, some great points. Looking forward to reading more. Our budget is pretty tight (naturally, hence the ‘penniless’) though still more than one pound per person per day, even so you’re quite right about the cost of fresh fruit and vegetables often being prohibitive if you’ve got a strict limit like we do for spending on the weekly shop, which is one of the reasons this year we’re expanding (modestly – herbs, squash, tomatoes, aubergines, courgettes, spinach, salad leaves, beans & brussels sprouts have been started so far) our attempts at growing our own. Of course were I physically disabled and on a low income, that option would be out, or at least much less easy to achieve. I also have the internet which means I can easily do bulk online wholefoods shopping (brown rice, lentils, sunflower seeds, oats etc.), which while not necessarily fresh, does provide solid wholesome nutrition, unlike the kind of stuff you’ve been resorting to over the past few days. Were I on a low income with limited mobility and no internet access (like many elderly people) my diet would probably be pretty appalling.

    • Once I’ve let people recover from me spamming them everyday, I’m going to do a more comprehensive lessons-learned, why-is-fresh-food-so-expensive type post. You can point and laugh at my naivety about things before I started this.

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