One Week of Groceries (Day 5: Live Below The Line)

My Live Below The Line week is just about finished – but you can still sponsor me here: https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/elleenelle

What does one week’s worth of groceries look like for a family in different countries around the world? For my 5 days below the line, this was my shopping basket:

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There was enough for one…..but only enough. No treats, no variation, not even any fruit. I made one jar of tikka sauce stretch across 5 meals. I made every portion of rice go a little bit further. I counted out my slices of bread to ensure I had enough for the week. My usual varied diet was reduced to a rotated set of meals that I’d chop and change between to keep some kind of variety in my days. The sudden increase in carbs has left my body confused, and I’m glad I don’t have to face breakfast of toast and jam tomorrow morning. I’m craving red pepper, and chinese spices, and fish and other types of protein. I cannot express how thankful I am that I have the option in my daily life to buy a wide variety of different types of food, instead of being limited to only what my pennies will stretch to.

A set of photographs appeared recently on my news feed, highlighting the differences of what would feed a family for a week in various countries.

USA

Britain

Japan

Turkey

Mali

Chad

There are more pictures from other countries included in the link but I picked out this selection, mainly because they were the ones that caught my attention the most. Firstly, the sheer amount of food for relatively small families of four in the pictures from Britain and USA. Meanwhile, larger families in Mali and Chad are feeding their entire brood on such meagre portions. There is a distinct contrast in the types of food as well – with USA and Britain’s grocery baskets filled with processed food and snacks in sharp contrast with Turkey and Japan, with their large amounts of fresh ingredients, and then the grain-based diets of Mali and Chad.

How would these families cope if they were to live a week in another’s shoes? How would the family from the USA react to living off the diet of the family from Turkey? What kind of shock to the system would the family from Chad have to eat the diet of a family from Britain?

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Day 5 of Live Below The Line

Breakfast: toast and jam 6p
Lunch: roast vegetables 20p
Dinner: sausage (21p) and vegetable(20p) tikka (10p) curry and rice (7p) – total 68p

Total for the day: 94p

In my picture above I included what has been my only kind of drink this week – water! We are so lucky to have access to clean, drinking water from our taps. To be able to turn on a tap and know that what I drink will be safe – a privilege that is a far away concept for many people around the world, most of whom are living under the extreme poverty line. I have personal experience of this from my time volunteering overseas in Ghana. Our volunteer house did not have clean running water, and we had to buy clean water from stalls in little square packages. The simple luxury of clean, running water was a distant concept. Thankfully, many of the charities who are partners with Live Below The Line also work on projects to give clean water to communities across the world.

As my final day of the challenge draws to a close, I find myself in a strange place. Live Below The Line makes you startlingly aware of your own and others excess. It also makes you aware of how, just be being more prepared and planning ahead, you could get by on a lot less. Live Below The Line is not just a worldwide charity campaign – it is also a very personal challenge. It offers opportunity to bring change for 1.2 billion people……and also to change yourself. 

1.2 Billion People, 1.2 Billion Reasons (Day 4: Live Below The Line)

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“The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them.”

– Albert Einstein

As of 2010, the world had 1.2 billion people living in extreme poverty – which is 20.63% of the world’s population.

While that figure seems enormous, it’s actually good news. The numbers released by World Bank indicate that there has been a roughly 200 million person fall since 2005. This has been driven by effective aid, increased trade from the world’s poorest countries, and improvements in governance and transparency. The world has succeeded on the headline goal in the Millennium Development Goals of halving extreme poverty between 1990 and 2015. In 1990, 41% of the world lived in extreme poverty.

These projects and campaigns are making a huge difference.

But the work isn’t over yet. There are still those 1.2 billion people. 1.2 billion reasons to keep fighting.

It’s going to take a generation’s work from all of us to create this world without extreme poverty. 

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Day 4 of Live Below The Line looked a bit like this:

Breakfast: toast and jam = 6p
Lunch: Veggie burgers(14p) on two slices of bread (4p) = 18p
Dinner: Rice (7p), tikka sauce (10p), vegetables (28p), sausages (14p) = 59p

83p altogether

Something I’ve found particularly hard this year is the mid-afternoon sugar slump. The time of day when I find myself getting a headache, unable to focus on my screen at work, and not being able to stay on track because all I can think about it how much I want a little snack. I’d normally be reaching for some fruit at this point, but fruit was out of my budget this year. As was any real kind of ‘snack’ thing. Instead I have been having a larger meal in the evening, and stretching it as far as possible!

My other task this week was to see if, while living below the line, I could maintain the same level of activity as I am used to. Over the past year I have become a lot more health conscious, fitter and more active. I’ve slimmed a dress size through simply keeping an eye on what I eat, and by going to the gym regularly. My general health and wellbeing is at the best it has been in a long time and I feel great for it.

But how would Live Below The Line affect that?

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I went to the gym on Sunday on Day 1 of my challenge and, while feeling fairly tired after my workout, I still managed to do my full cardio and strength routine. Needless to say – today was different. Before I even got to the gym, I’d had an attack of ‘Below The Line Brain’ and realised I’d forgotten some gym essentials (deodorant and a hair bobble!). After righting this wrong, I settled into my warm up on the bike, but I was tired. So very tired. My body was not up for the endorphin rush that I usually thrive on…..instead my legs felt like lead, and I knew that today’s gym session was going to be a slow one. I persevered but stayed away from any strength training or high-impact cardio work. My body told me to keep it simple!

We’ve already noted that keeping healthy while below the line can be a challenge. Never mind the fact that a gym membership would, of course, be out of the realms of possibility for anyone surviving on £1 per day – even mustering up enough energy to keep active in any way due to cheap carb-filled diets and lack of other important nutrients, would be a huge challenge. The emotional and mental toll is enormous and it’s easy to see how someone can become stuck in an cycle due to the circumstance they have found themselves in. How on earth can someone maintain their health and wellbeing, both physically and mentally, while surviving on £1 a day? 

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Today I reached £200 in my fundraising. All money I raise goes to UNICEF and their vital projects tackling poverty around the world.

If you would like to donate, please, please do:

https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/elleenelle

Sore Head, Full Heart (Day 3: Live Below The Line)

You can still donate here: https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/elleenelle

Day 3 of Live Below The Line and I’ve spent 84p on my food today. 

The breakdown goes something like this:

  • Breakfast: 2 slices of toast and jam: 6p
  • Lunch: 15p veggie burgers on 2 pieces of bread 4p plus a smear of tikka sauce for taste.
  • Dinner: Root Veg 20p, 1/3rd can of new potatoes 5p, 1 sausage 7p, tikka sauce 20p portion, rice 7p.

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I cooked a bit of extra rice and some extra veg with the sauce to add for my lunch or dinner tomorrow. Plus I was amazed with how far I could stretch a 1/4 jar of tikka sauce simply by adding some water. I find myself taking extra time over my food, making it last that little bit longer, or cutting it into smaller pieces to give myself more time to indulge in it! 

Today, in the midst of my usual working day, I hit a sugar slump. My head was sore and all I could think about was having some kind of snack to lift my sugars a bit. This was not to be and my next meal was to be my dinner. I’m lethargic and feel tired from the sugar slumps that come from the cheap carbs I’m consuming. Additionally, I have been consuming more carbs than I’m used to, which I think my body is reacting to in some ways. My normal diet keeps carbs to a minimum, instead opting for more proteins and fruit and veg. The sudden change to lots of bread and rice has left my body confused! Additionally, I haven’t been back to the gym since Day 1 as I’ve felt too tired – I’ll attempt it tomorrow after work but I’m not holding out much hope for my energy levels!

Live Below The Line gives you a huge amount to think about. It presents challenge to what you see as the norm, and what you accept in your daily living. It opens up opportunities to talk to people about this scandal of hunger that we see in our world. It brings the reality of the daily struggle that face 1.2 billion people on this earth.

My fundraising today went up to £180 raised for the incredible work of UNICEF. This is the third year I have taken on this challenge, and year after year I see my friends and family get behind me, support me and donate to the cause. While my head might be sore, my heart is full because of the generosity of people I love, and knowing that what I am doing may have a little impact in this fight.