Hunger Challenge Blog: Day 4

Reflections on Day 4: June 14, 2012

In case you missed it on our NAPAWF*Sacramento Facebook page today, we are highlighting this year’s Farm Bill that is being debated in the U.S. Senate this week. An estimated $4.49 BILLION will be cut from the SNAP program and leave hundreds of Americans hungry! DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano posted this handy blog about how to do some advocacy on this last week, read it here! Thousands of people rely on this program, the great majority of SNAP recipients are women and children.

Assemblymember Yamada Expresses Solidarity with Her NAPAWF Sisters!

Stayed in my Capitol Office until nearly 9 p.m. last night to finish up an Op Ed and read additional materials and budget impact information coming in from many constituency groups in my district. I had not packed dinner so was pretty hungry by that time. To make matters even more interesting, one of our departing interns had graciously stopped by earlier in the day to drop off some delicious, homemade baklava (I know because she’s been treating us to her desserts for the past three years). Alone in my office with a plate of delectable sweets (and those of you who really know me understand where dessert ranks in my food pyramid!), I was sorely tempted to sneak one. However, as my NAPAWF sisters taking the challenge this year with me know, one of the rules of the Hunger Challenge is no “free food”. So, I brought my “share” of the treats home to my husband.

Experiencing this reminds me that food commercials frequently blare at us on TV, and we are surrounded by plenty in the Capitol community. For those whose access to food is restricted by income, transportation, and physical health, watching those food advertisements towards the end of the month when benefits dry up must be similarly challenging.

On my way home, I spent $1.93 on a zucchini which I added to my baked chicken and tofu dinner and a single serving package of ground coffee–Double Dutch Chocolate. I am going to treat myself to a cuppa joe at the end of Friday when we are expected to vote for another ugly California budget.

Sondra Realizes that Breakfast Really is the Most Important Meal of the Day… Maybe.

Sondra's Fried Egg Sandwich Breakfast!

Participating in the Hunger Challenge has made me hyper-aware of how my eating habits impact other aspects of my life. To begin with, I am not usually a morning person. As I mentioned before, my usual routine used to be to skip breakfast in exchange for 15 more minutes of sleep, grab a croissant across the hall from my office and for lunch buy some meal around the Capitol. My energy levels would be a rollercoaster — tired in the morning, beginning to feel more awake around lunchtime, and then drop down again to food-coma-fighting levels post-lunch. The Hunger Challenge has pushed me to pace myself instead. My breakfast has to sustain me because I no longer have a large lunch or dinner to make up for it. I realized this after Monday breakfast, when I had a piece of toast with an egg and felt my stomach grumbling after one hour. On Tuesday I added an extra slice of bread to make a sandwich, which left me feeling fuller. I added lettuce to my sandwich from my mixed greens salad bag on Wednesday and this morning was one of my best mornings yet, despite getting less sleep than usual. I’ve been told many times how important a good breakfast is for setting the foundation for your entire day, but I only occasionally practiced that line of thinking (usually only for brunch on a weekend). After my mini self-experiment, I realized how I’ve been selling myself short.

This isn’t to say that I have been enjoying a perfectly-portioned and balanced day, however. There’s the constant reminder of being not-quite-full that keeps me from forgetting about this challenge. I spend a lot of time thinking about how I could best invest my remaining $2.40 — maybe on more fruit, or juice, or dessert. I miss eating sweet things, and I’m reminded regularly of all of the other things I can’t eat, which are now so much more enticing and valuable. Not only are there things that I want to eat but can’t, but there are also things I need to better sustain myself that I have chosen to go without for this week. For example, I really cut down on my meat intake for the challenge, figuring this was healthier and all I do at work is sit at a desk, anyway. These little pork chops I bought, however, just aren’t cutting it. I know if my work was even slightly more labor intensive I would definitely have had to trade out the bag of apples or some vegetables for more meat. I should have shred my food pyramid from the start. Maybe tomorrow I will treat myself to something delicious with these last couple of dollars.

Cat LOVES her Coffee

mmmmm... caffeine....

Something that I KNEW I had to get was coffee during this Hunger Challenge. I was determined to find cheaply priced coffee, but I remembered that I would probably have to buy filters, too. Another cost burden. Then I stumbled upon these coffee pods for $3.49. I was a Starbucks barista once upon a time and I still had some tricks up my sleeve. I knew that iced coffee was packed with more punch than the average hot cup of joe. My body is used to really strong coffee so I had to get creative with Folgers. I threw three pods in a pitcher and poured hot water in and let them steep for about 15 minutes then filled the rest of the pitcher with ice (hooray for ice being free!). Voila! Caffeine every morning… I thought this would cure me of any fatigue, but I was wrong. so. wrong. I am definitely not consuming nearly as many calories as I am used to so my energy level took a nose dive. With the lack of energy came some amount of irritability. On the second day, I decided to go for a light run… you know, to create some energy? distract myself from my growling stomach? I don’t know why I did that… apparently being hungry also impairs judgment.

Since Father’s Day is around the corner, I will dedicate this next part of my post to him– the most overly prepared, overly cautious and overly paranoid person I know. These are some questions that were swimming in my mind over the last few days:

What if I forgot to refill the coffee pitcher? What if I faint while out running? What if I forgot my coffee at home? Did I turn off the stove? What if the chicken gets burned? What if that’s not even edible? Is that mold on the mushrooms? What time should I eat so I don’t get THAT hungry again? WHY DIDN’T I BRING A SNACK?