Posted by: kathandroger | May 2, 2015

Fruit again!

It had been an interesting, if not entirely enjoyable week. When I signed up for the ‘live below the line’ challenge I initially didn’t think it was going to be too difficult. It’s only 5 days – how difficult can that be? – I thought. It was only when I started to look at how much food actually costs (which in my comfortable middle class world I never really do) that I realised I wasn’t going to be eating much at all. Food here in France is particularly expensive, more so than in supermarkets in the UK. So when I looked at the many menu suggestions I realised that I would have to modify them to get within the £5 budget for the 5 day food spend. In the end my menu was as follows:

Monday: Porridge – Broccoli and chickpea curry – Spanish Frittata

Tuesday: Porridge – Spanish Frittata – Broccoli and chickpea curry

Wednesday: Porridge – Pasta with tomato sauce – Omelette

Thursday: Porridge – Egg-fried-vegetable-rice  – Pasta with tomato sauce

Friday: Porridge – Egg-fried-vegetable-rice – Spanish Frittata

I chose this one as it looked quite varied, but mainly because it looked relatively substantial. I’m building up my triathlon training at the moment, as well as doing quite a lot of physical work around the gites, so needed to have some substance to my diet!

So – what have I learned from the experience?

Day 1 passed without incident. To be fair, I had eaten ‘comme un cochon’ all weekend to build up reserves… By day 2 I was starting to get hungry. I’d had a run on Monday evening and swam a couple of kms on Tuesday morning. I found that I was satisfied for an hour or so after the meal, but soon became hungry again. But 2 things struck me more than anything. The lack of variety even after 2 days was starting to get to me and I was craving fruit big time. Don’t forget – no cheeky little bits of cheese out of the fridge, no crisps or biscuits, or even coffee or tea…

Day 3 was the hardest. I’d woken up in the night hungry and the porridge failed to fill the gap. I usually do a big bike ride on a Wednesday of 80-100km, but that was out of the question. Instead I did 30km, but struggled and had nothing in my legs. I reckon I was eating about 1000 calories per day, which might be OK if you are fairly sedentary, but I’m not. I was wondering how it must feel if you are hungry and have to walk 5 miles to school or a couple of miles to fetch water? I had been drinking plenty of water, but had a splitting headache, which I very rarely have. I had some translation work to do in the evening and found my brain was struggling to think! Wednesday was definitely the low point.

First weigh-in on Thursday morning showed I’d lost 1.2 kg…I’d have expected a bit more. The egg fried vege rice was a bit of a revelation for lunch. The recipe allowed for half a stock cube. That made all the difference. The flavour and a bit of grease was a delight! I never thought I would appreciate a stock cube so much!! That perked me up no end, as did the prospect of being near the end. However, I was still hungry and didn’t really have the energy to train properly. Friday was much the same, though mentally easier given the proximity to the end! I wonder also if my body had started to adapt?

In 5 days I lost 1.5 kgs, not a great deal. I can say that I was permanently hungry after Monday. Not being able to eat when you are hungry is not a pleasant feeling. I definitely didn’t have the energy to to the things I usually so, particularly exercise. The lack of variety was difficult to cope with as was the lack of flavour. If I had to live like this on a permanent basis I’d be very unhappy. I appreciate that I’ve got used to a wonderfully rich and varied diet, so it is a very false situation, but it has given me a very real insight as to what living on £1 a day might be like.


  1. Well done for sticking to this. Actually it is a bit humbling to know that you have struggled for five days, but this is the reality for some people day in and day out. It has been very interesting to read your posts and your comments about how your diet affected other aspects of your life.

  2. Bloody well done Kath…
    it isn’t fun trying to eat like that…
    especially, as I was, seemingly earning a good salary.
    Seeing what seemed like everyone else getting all my income was equally depressing…
    at least I could work with what I could cook…
    and here I must raise a glass to Richard Mabey for his books on Wild Food…
    and Delia Smith for her book… Frugal Food….
    and my mother for her Friday staple:
    Fridge Soup!!

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