March 14, 2014
I’m sure many of the UK members are aware of the Sport Relief campaign during March. I have dropped some coins into the collection box and sponsored several friends who are all taking part in events. I figured I had done my bit and my conscience was clear.
Then I watched the short series highlighting food poverty here in the UK. It made for sobering viewing. It also made me think about food in a completely different way.
I admit that I am a WLR member because I need to lose weight. I have “eaten more” and “moved less” which has resulted in an increase on the scales. I have come to realise that I use food as comfort as a means of “self medicating” when times are stressful or upsetting; when I feel under pressure or unable to cope.
I would have a bad day and reach for a packet of crisps or a chocolate bar as a way of making myself feel temporarily better.
I would go to the kitchen, open the cupboard doors and decide which, out of the many treats and titbits inside, I wanted to soothe me.
Watching the television programme made me realise just how little thought I gave to food. It is always “just there”. I can have whatever I fancy, and if it isn’t in the house then I would just head to the shop (I live on a street which has two of the “Big Four” supermarkets at each end.. open 24 hours and stocking everything I could possibly want).
That is part of the reason why I am here at WLR. I was spoilt for choice; food was always in the cupboard and if what I wanted wasn’t there I could just go out and buy it.
The people on the programme were in a completely different world when it came to food. Depriving themselves of meals so their children could eat. Literally have a few pence each day to spend on nourishing an entire family;
having to decide whether to have beans OR toast - the two together being a luxury they could ill afford.
It was shocking and a real eye opener. It made me realise that for some people three meals a day is a complete luxury, whereas I would eat three hearty meals and still fill up with sweet treats and snacks, not because I was hungry, but because it was there and was a means of altering my mood for short time.
One of the comments which resonated with me most was the fact that the lack of choice was difficult. The famous celebrities who were sharing the experience of “food poverty” were astonished at just how little food people could survive on, and horrified to see that fresh fruit and vegetables, packets of crisps and chocolate bars were completely out of the reach of people living on the tightest of budgets.
Of course, there were different reasons why each of the people who shared their lives for the television programme were struggling to make ends meet. Very different circumstances resulting in a very similar experience for them all. A telling point was when one celebrity spotted a packet of crisps and some chocolate-toffee sweets in the house she was staying and was positively giddy about the fact, having apparently eaten nothing but toast and cuppa soup for the previous few days.
It made me feel guilty. Crisps and chocolate bars are always found in the cupboards here at Hudson HQ. My fruit bowl is always full; the vegetable rack always has a wide selection for me to choose from. I don’t have to choose between beans and bread, I can have both - with generous amounts of butter and a thick topping of grilled cheese. It is little wonder that my midriff grew wider as
my eating habits stopped being simply to fuel my body and became a whole lot more.
I have cut down on buying sweet treats as I try to shed the pounds that will see me at goal weight. I am buying good quality produce which is packed with nutrients and gives my body the very best nourishment. I am fortunate.
I am buying less food but spending the same amount of money – because I am fortunate to be able to afford fresh fruit; fresh vegetables; good quality cuts of meat and fine fish. I can pile my plate high and I have my “food bin” for when I have made too much and am too full to finish it.
So I have made a decision. I am going to go back to buying a multi-pack of assorted crisps and a six pack of chocolate bars.
I am going buy more fresh fruit and good quality vegetables.
I will pick up more bottles of orange or apple juice and if a Swiss roll or two lands in my basket well so be it. And all of these items will be placed in a separate carrier bag and delivered to my local food bank, which I have just discovered is ten minutes away from my front door. I will not eat the chocolate or crisps but will not miss them, knowing that somewhere in the town someone who hasn’t had a treat for a very long time is opening a packet and really appreciating what (I am ashamed to say) I have taken for granted.
Many of us are here because we need to eat less and move more. I plan to do both regularly in the future. I will “eat less” as more of my shopping will end up in my own cupboards, going instead to people who need it for essential fuel, not just to alleviate boredom, and I will “move more” with a brisk weekly walk to the food bank with a heavy bag of groceries.
Isn’t it amazing how the smallest of things, like a packet of salt’n’vinegar, or a tin of beans, can highlight such big differences in life...
With a Hug