Monday, June 4, 2007

Rations: They're Not Just For Combat Anymore

Oh, I'm living on a dollar a day - you think I'm kidding,
I'm for real, I'm starving on the streets of Mobile!
Pine Hill Haints, "Living on a Dollar a Day"

Today is the day when the realities of my little experiment set in. It's one thing to walk to work a few times, another entirely to restrict your diet. The fact of the matter is that staring at a candy bowl all day is starting to get to me, and it is (at times) taking some Green Lantern-like willpower in order to keep from breaking my social agreement with myself, so to speak.

The caffeine headaches are largely over, it would seem, but the hunger pains have started. I am sure that what I am feeling now are not "true" hunger pains, because while I am not eating nearly as much as I was before the experiment started, what I am eating is very filling. These are more like phantom pains: my body knows that I'm not eating as much as I used to, and it's rebelling against that.

I biked to work today, which is significantly more difficult than I thought it would be, and considerably more difficult than walking to work (though admittedly faster). If anything, the presence of a bicycle painted an even larger bullseye on my back as far as motorists were concerned: the amount of hatred that can be transferred from an SUV moving at sixty miles an hour to a bicyclist riding as far to the right as possible without going into a storm drain is unwieldy to write out without using scientific notation.

All I can think about all day is food, at this point. How much food I have available to me, the last time I ate food, the next time I'm going to eat food, the next time I'm going shopping for food (which honestly seems like a Lewisian trip through a wardrobe to a fantasy land of wonders and excitement at this point), food, food, food, food, FOOD.

I was asked today how my sandwich and baked potato was, which is what I had for lunch on Saturday. I responded that I was rationing my potatoes for the remainder of the week to make sure I had a good breakfast of home fries available to me every day. I'm having to ration potatoes, POTATOES - the staple of any poor person's diet, or at least any poor person with (ostensibly) Irish blood running through their veins like myself.

I'm rationing potatoes. If I'm having to ration potatoes, can you imagine how a single mother with two or three children does it? Can you imagine the shame and sadness and anger she must feel when she has to deny her children things like McDonalds or ordering pizza? I'm rationing potatoes, she's having to tell her kids "no" when all she wants is to say "yes". My experiment can't hold a candle to the real thing.

One of the hardest things I've had to do this year was forcing myself to eat slowly when I got home. At that point I hadn't eaten in about seven hours, and the last thing I'd had to eat was a single turkey sandwich, made with two pieces of toast (including the heel of the first loaf of bread I bought), some mustard and four slices of Carl Budding Honey Turkey. I made poor decisions this first week, though I'm proud to say that if you look at things objectively (fat content, sodium content, etc.), everything is fairly healthy. I haven't resorted to Ramen noodles, I haven't even made pasta yet (which is definitely coming in the future).

I said that it was hard to force myself to eat slowly. One of the first things you'll be told if you ever go through a weight loss program is to eat your food more slowly, because you will feel more full if you eat more slowly, or so they tell me. I forced myself to eat slowly to try and feel full, to stop myself from just swallowing everything whole, and to try and enjoy my red beans and rice.

It didn't work.


Manda said...

Something my nutritionist told me in regards to hunger pains:

Drink lots of cold water before, during, after and in between meals. It helps you body think you are fuller than you are and it satisfies some of the desire for a full stomach. It works most days when portion control is an issue.

Also, if you have enough cash left over to buy a pack of chewing gum, this also helps.

nick. said...

I've actually got enough money left over to buy a small pizza from a local pizza place, but I'm trying to ration that money away and buy more stuff for this next week. I've only got to make it two more days before I go shopping again, I think I'll make it without extreme difficulty.

But thanks for the cold water tip. I've definitely been drinking more water but I'm going to be more conscious of it now.