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Food Stamp Challenge - Day 16 (Wednesday)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

We all know that low carbers eat more veggies than most people who eat a "healthy" diet. I wondered how many (much?) veggies I've eaten since I started this challenge. After all, I'm keeping my spending to the average food stamp benefit actually received in Indiana, so it must be light on veggies, right? Nope. Since I started on 9/2, I've averaged 434 grams, or 15.3 ounces. Might durn close to a pound of veggies every day. Well, that does include some watermelon, but mostly veggies. If I back out the first week when I was sick, it comes to an average of 513 grams or 18.1 ounces, or 1.125 pounds. And that's veggies eaten, excluding the skin and seeds and other waste.

I know - many people on food stamps don't eat fresh veggies because they just aren't available in food deserts. I'm not commenting on the diets (whether by choice or necessity) of the poor. I'm just pointing out that low carb doesn't have to be expensive. Aimed mostly at those who say that low carb is "too expensive." It is possible to eat low carb healthy and eat cheaply, too.

Today I bought a jar of mayo ($1.99) and three dozen eggs ($3.75). Thanks, Naypooie, for asking about my egg consumption! It made me realize that I'd better get more eggs while they're on sale. And yes, six dozen eggs makes sense. A "serving" is usually four eggs, and I have eggs most days, either for breakfast or for lunch or for supper. And I've been having a MIM most days, which is another egg. And I ate a lot of deviled eggs when I was sick and taking medicine that had to be taken with food. So yeah, six dozen eggs, plus a few.

Today's food -
B - MIM with coconut oil, tea
L - salad - lettuce, tuna, egg, mayo, tomato
D - scramble of eggs, zucchini, onion and coconut oil; cauliflower with mayo
S - tea with splenda (maybe)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WOUBBIE 9/17/2014 7:28PM

    I agree, I eat way more veggies way more consistently than I used to.

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Food Stamp Challenge - Day 15 (Tuesday) and Halfway Through

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

B - MIM/OMM with coconut oil; tea
L - soup - chicken broth, eggs, zucchini, red bell pepper, coconut oil
S - tea with coconut oil and splenda
D - pork chop; cucumber with mayo; broccoli, carrots and butter

The FSC is half over. I started on the 2nd so it's not half over until today. I've spent $88.84 of my $120.00 budget so far, or 75%. I guess that's reasonable, since I have the food for this next week.

Here's what I bought and what I have left:

1 watermelon (mistake!) - most left
2 lbs carrots - over a pound
7+ lbs cabbage - ~4 lbs
3 lbs onions (6 onions) - 3-1/2 onions
2 heads lettuce - most of a head
2 red bell pepppers - 1 pepper
2 zucchini - 1 huge zucchini plus a bit of another
2 heads cauliflower - 1-1/2 heads
1.13 lbs broccoli - ~1 pound

24 oz cottage cheese - all gone
1 lb butter - 7 tablespoons

11 dozen eggs - about 5 dozen
10 cans tuna - 6 cans
10 lbs chicken leg quarters - meat from 3 quarters
4.5 lbs pork chops (8 chops) - 5 chops

1 jar mayo (30 oz) - almost gone
40 decaff green tea bags - ~25 tea bags
9.6 oz flax seed - 6+ oz
100 packs sweetener - ~65 packets
56 oz coconut oil - ~ 42 oz
2 jars cinnamon - 1-1/2 jars
2 cucumbers - 2 cukes

It's been interesting, because I've been doing other things at the same time I've been doing the FSC. I've decreased my protein, sort of in line with keto. Or at least I think so. My goal is between 60 and 80 grams of protein a day, instead of the 125 or so that I had been averaging. And this past week have started IF, eating between about 9:30 and 5:30 pm, then "fasting" for the other 16 hours or so. I'm still eating three meals a day, just bunching them together. I'm also trying keep my calories between about 1600 and 1800 calories a day. So there's a lot going on in my dietary life these days.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BUDGETMAW 9/18/2014 10:18AM

  I wish, Woubbie, but not likely. Though I have lost 7.5 pounds so far. I'll take it, even if my pants do stay up!

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WOUBBIE 9/17/2014 6:45PM

    Really interested to see if your pants fall off in two more weeks of this.



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NAYPOOIE 9/16/2014 8:15PM

    Wow, you've eaten six dozen eggs?

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Food Stamp Challenge - Days 13 and 14 (Sunday and Monday)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sunday -
B - eggs scrambled in coconut oil
L - church picnic - free
S - tea/cream/splenda at restaurant - $3.50
D - none, wasn't hungry

The tea was a social event and I have mixed feelings about whether it really should be included in the budget. But I said I would include it, so I am.

Monday -
B - MIM/OMM with coconut oil
L - salad - cauliflower, eggs, mayo, mustard
D - pork chop; salad of cucumber, tomato, mayo
S - tea with sweetener

Ended up with fewer calories and less protein than I intended. I thought about adding an egg with mayo but decided not to. Not every day has to have "enough" calories or protein or anything else.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SELENITYLUNARE 9/17/2014 12:34PM

    That makes me feel better about that! I usually only use bouillon cubes for convenience. I'm not really into making my own broth much except when I used to make the gravy from turkey drippings for Thanksgiving. I'm an awesome cook for certain things but I make up for it by being AWFUL at others! Baking? No thanks!

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BUDGETMAW 9/16/2014 8:07PM

  SelenityLunare, I did a little experiment a while ago, comparing bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts with boneless skinless chicken breasts. The bone in ones 99 cents a pound and the boneless ones cost $1.97 a pound. I took off the skin and removed the bones from the bone-in and then figured the cost per pound of the boned meat. It turned out very close to the cost of buying it pre-boned and skinned. Of course, if I buy it on the bone I have the bone to make bone broth out of and the skin as an extra.

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    I was thinking about trying this next week. I know what it is like to live off little to nothing but it wouldn't hurt to start a budget! I couldn't include my husband because he eats at work and he would have no desire to do it. I will sit down and do the math for how much a big ole pot of soup costs me! One huge pot will last me an entire week! The maximum benefits for my area are $200 a month so $50 a week. That is honestly not as bad as I expected! $7 a day!

I did the math for my normal chicken veggie soup that makes enough soup for 3 days. It came out costing $20 using a big bag of frozen veggies and boneless chicken breasts that I normally buy for $1.99/lb. If I go with bone in and take the meat off the bones the price goes down to $13. It is a lot of wiggle room. I am fine eating the same thing for all meals for 3 days. So maybe I would be able to last on it! I may try this and see how I do!

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The neurobiology of generational poverty

Sunday, September 14, 2014

We had a speaker at Sunday School this morning who talked about poverty from an unusual perspective. It amounted to the neurobiology of poverty. I wish you could have heard her. I'll try to repeat what she said but probably won't do a very good job of it. Caveat - as she put it, she was talking about the middle of the bell curve. What she said doesn't apply to everyone. And she was talking about generational poverty, which includes living in the "bad" part of town.

People living in generational poverty are hard-wired differently than those of us who aren't. It's a survival mechanism. They learn to react immediately to possible threats or crises. They have to. Quick reflexes can save their lives. They don't have time to think about long term solutions when they're trying to stay alive today, or even in the moment. This instant reflex action is hard-wired into them and it affects their thinking and their actions in areas other than those that are threatening.

Those of us living on the "good" side of the tracks don't have this hard-wiring. We don't need it. It's not relevant to our lives. We're hard-wired to analyse a situation and look at the big picture. That's the kind of thinking that's relevant for our lives.

She gave two examples. A woman she works with who was raised in generational poverty got a job at a factory. One day on their smoke break, a man ran across the parking lot. The woman immediately ran after him. Turns out he was the UPS man. The others asked her why she ran after him. She told them that where was raised, in the worst part of Chicago, if you saw someone running, you ran too. You didn't wait to find out why they were running, you just ran. Immediate reflex actions were hard-wired into her. They were survival mechanisms where she was from but not appropriate to her live after she got out of that part of Chicago.

The second example was herself. She was walking along the beach in Belize one evening when she suddenly realized that she was alone. Everyone else had left. She saw someone coming and knew that she was in trouble. She was sure that he was going to mug her blah blah blah. And she was right - he grabbed her backpack and ran off. She was so busy analyzing the situation that she didn't do anything to protect herself. Her background had left her hard-wired to analyze a situation rather than to react immediately. That's what worked for her life - most of the time. It wasn't the right response to that situation though. Her friend from Chicago would probably have done much better in that situation. (She says that when the Zombie Appocolypse comes, she plans to hang out with folks from the bad part of town because they're going to much better because they respond immediately instead of stopping to think about things.)

So what does this have to do with the Food Stamp Challenge? I expect to end the month with food and/or money left over. Probably both. And that's after spending $3.50 on tea this afternoon and probably $10 on food for a picnic the end of the month. It's not exciting, but it's not hard. Why do people who actually use food stamps keep running out of food stamps half way through the month? Sure, there are things like I'm doing it by choice and they do it by necessity, and I do it for a month and they do all the time, and I have time and a car and the appliances and dishes and pots and pans and so forth. And I don't have to worry about being mugged on my way home or whether I'm going to be evicted or how I'm going to pay the electric bill and so forth. And I'm not trivializing those things. I know that they're going to make a difference in how I deal with budgeting issues.

But apparently there's more to it than that. My life situation has trained me - has hard-wired me - to look at the big picture and to plan for the long-term. I made a general shopping list before I started, and I update it every time I buy anything, setting aside money for the things I know I'm going to have to buy. The life situation of those in generational poverty has trained them to react immediately based on short term thinking. It's not just a matter of showing them how to do the long-term thinking, but of overcoming the hard-wiring that has helped them to survive for most of their life.

I've done a horrible job of explaining this, and I have a feeling that it sounds very judgmental and bigoted. The way she explained it definitely wasn't. The strategies that they learned kept them alive and well. I'd likely be killed, or at least mugged and robbed, in that Chicago neighborhood. I definitely wouldn't prosper. But that same background that kept them alive and well keeps them from prospering in my world. And it's too deeply embedded to be changed by simply telling them or showing them how to look at the big picture and to plan ahead.

I should probably just delete this, but I think it's important. It definitely changes - or should change - how I view the Food Stamp Challenge and the difference between my choice of doing the challenge for a month and other people eating this way by necessity year after year.

Oops - I should make it clear that the hard-wiring is the result of their experiences, not genetics. Just as our hard-wiring is the result of our experiences, not genetics. And the way to get people out of generational poverty is to somehow change those experiences starting at an early age.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WOUBBIE 9/15/2014 7:45PM

    Really interesting and maddeningly frustrating subject. Many of the people living in that kind of poverty don't even have regular grocery stores available to them. They survive on what they get from the corner store or a food pantry, if they're lucky. One of the saddest stories I've read lately was about the sad, sad state of the town of Camden, NJ. Such a sense of hopelessness.

It breaks my heart to hear politicians glibly insult people living in poverty as if they actively chose their lot in life, and could just lift themselves out of it if only they would work harder! It simply doesn't work that way.

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BUDGETMAW 9/15/2014 2:50PM

  The woman who spoke is involved with a program that matches families in poverty with folks who aren't, to be friends and possibly role models. They meet once a week as a group and there are activities for the kids while the adults are doing whatever they do. The idea is to give the kids experience in longer range thinking and planning so that it gets hard wired into them and, they hope, help get them out of poverty. I asked whether that was putting the kids at risk, by teaching them to stop and analyse instead of reacting immediately, if the lightning reflexes were survival mechanisms. She said that they can learn and experience both, that it's not a matter of one or the other. But they have to start early, when they're brains are still being wired.

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NAYPOOIE 9/15/2014 1:59PM

    Wow, I never thought of that. Life training someone to react quickly, but not plan ahead. I can totally see that when day-to-day survival is iffy, you're not going to be thinking about how best to spend your food budget to get thru the month. You're hungry now.

And yet, obviously you'll eat better if you can plan ahead. And discipline yourself to not eat next week's food now. I don't see a solution that doesn't involve some draconian government intervention.

Oddly, I had a situation like that. My ex got himself in a hole, had no money or job, would literally have been starving and ended up living in the street. So, to save my daughter (and myself) from seeing him begging outside Wal-mart, I agreed to provide for him for three months, give him space to find a job.

The man weighed more than 300 lbs, so I put him on a diet, primarily to increase his odds of getting a job. Planned for 1800 calories a day (he was beyond sedentary). My worst mistake was to let him stock up most of the three months food at the start. By the end he was living on a can of soup a day. If I had to do it over, I would have given him a week's food at a time. And selected it myself (I let him come shopping with me, my second mistake. He's a carbaholic.). It would have gone much better if I had taken total control.

Unfortunately, if the government were to take that kind of control, the recipients would undoubtedly end up with a lot of pasta.

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MRTHING2000 9/15/2014 7:11AM

    Well said. I spent a week in Belize and though it was beautiful, the drugs and crime were always noticeable. It has gotten so much worse since 2003. Parts of Chicago are basically in a civil war right now, every man for himself :(

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Food Stamp Challenge - Day 12 (Saturday)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

B - MIM/OMM with coconut oil
L - soup - chicken broth, eggs, zucchini, red bell pepper
S - walnuts, delacata squash (free - party type thing)
D - salad - cabbage, onion, mayo, eggs


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