I am breaking the recap into three parts, which are my kind of running diary through the week, the overall feeling I had from the experience and ways I hope to continue to stay involved in the food hunger and supply conversation in the future.
I thought this week was going to be perfect to do this little experiment since I would be home a lot in the evening, but it turned out to be almost 100% not the case.
Monday we kicked things off with enthusiasm and a major dose of "high and mighty-ness" thanks to the warm support I received on Facebook the night before. I exercised in the morning and realized I had a lunch meeting that I had scheduled at my favorite lunch spot. Whole Foods. I sucked it up and walked in with my PBJ and apple slices. A woman asked me what food I had while I was waiting on my meeting (only at Whole Foods will someone point at your food and ask about it), and I explained my project and that I had brought it from home. Her response was, "Well if you can get apples at the convenience store now, I suppose it's really not that bad." I got a lot of colorful responses about the project, including:
"You limited the foods you eat, but not the amount, so you shouldn't get that hungry, right?"
"If I could only eat those foods I would just make grilled cheese all week and be thrilled."
"This isn't true - there are lots of healthy food options but those people do not choose them for their kids."
I don't consider any of these to be true, untrue or other and didn't really get into a response on any of them. It was interesting to me to hear how people reacted. Until about 4:00 p.m. on Monday when I got really hungry for the first time and realized I could eat more of the garbage I had been eating all day or sit around and wait for a dinner I wasn't excited about and I decided I was already over this and really didn't want to talk about it anymore.
|B.Y.O.P.B.J. to Whole Foods|
By Wednesday I started to remember why I got so into eating clean foods and exercise in the first place: it drastically improves my mood and ability to focus. I had a last minute Noonday holiday party come up for Wednesday and as things continued to go wrong as I tried to get to my hostess' house, I was on the express train to meltdown city. I got snappy with Markus over a card table and was so out of it that I couldn't find my glasses for two days and had to drive in the dark (they were in my purse, by the way). I missed my normal self.
Same for Thursday, where my lack of healthy diet had my social anxiety completely out of control on the way to our Community Partners of Dallas yCPD happy hour. I told myself that if I went inside, I could end the project early and go eat wherever I wanted. Here is where the benefits of sharing your life crazies on the Internet come into play: yCPD members and friends Holly, Annie and Jessica were so welcoming and were asking me all about the project and how it was going, that I had all the renewed energy I needed to go home and make myself another food desert dinner. I had debated how much I wanted to share about this project, since I don't want to be perceived as a self-horn tooter, but that night I had a great time talking hunger and food with friends who care about our community. When Holly said looking at the map from my initial post changed her perspective on hunger in Dallas, I went from total peanut butter martyrdom to realizing that five short days of my life sparked a tiny conversation and was totally worth it.
What I Will Remember:
I will remember not wanting to move much or walk Little Child, be outside or exercise because the limited amount of empty calories I had just weren't enough.
I will remember rushing through dinner because it tastes gross and just wanting to go to bed from lack of energy and not being able to focus on much besides being hungry. Markus and I usually eat dinner together every night and talk a lot about our day, but we barely talked at all last week since we were so spent after trudging through work on fewer calories and nutrition than we are used to.
I will remember feeling so tired and so anxious at the same time. Eating complex and processed foods can be so much work for our digestive systems that it has been found to affect brain function, and thanks to a vacation back to processed food land I agree with articles like this more than ever.
I will remember knowing I have food at home and am not allowed to spend money eating out this week but going from one job to another and knowing I won't be home for hours while I am hungry and how much that made me want to drive through somewhere and grab the biggest, cheapest serving of whatever I could get my hands on. It helped me realize our food is cheap and fast because a lot of people are overwhelmed and think they need it that way.
I will remember being completely unexcited by the food I had to eat but so thankful for anything besides the hunger pains I was feeling making dinner. Our food banks and systems are not perfect, but they are growing and working day and night to stop hunger and feed families in our city.
Going from Here:
I was so happy to find some great teams and resources in Dallas that are working to tackle this issue!
Get Healthy Dallas began at SMU and is working in South Dallas to bring more sustainable healthy food options and nutrition education to people living in food desserts. You can get involved with their urban farming initiatives or cooking classes here.
Jubilee Park and Community Center in the Fair Park area has a community garden with cooking classes and partners with the invaluable North Texas Food Bank for Kids Café and backpack stuffing programs.
Thanks to this experiment, hunger as a social issue is a non-negotiable for me. Making sure children have enough and the proper foods to eat at an early age affects learning, brain development and self-esteem. Knowing how the difference in diet trickled into every other aspect of my life, from my sense of self to my relationships, I am more energized than ever to continue working on how we can provide healthy food options and eradicate hunger in Dallas.
Thank you so much to everyone who followed along!