Category Archives: Food Experiment

Beauty Standards

We preen, primp and tone our bodies to conform to modern beauty standards which change as every epoch puts worth in something different. We go into the supermarkets and we are greeted with the same. Preened, primped, toned fruit and vegetables that line aisles in glorious, idealist beauty. There are strict rules which these inanimate objects must live up to, even though they eventually get chopped, cooked or left to rot in the fruit bowl or salad draw of the fridge.

Now how many times have you walked past a local store with with shelves of ‘sub par’ veg, courgettes which have started to shrink, parsley which is yellow and wilting and then thought ‘disgusting’? Have you every found a mouldy beetroot in Waitrose and taken it to customer services and given it to them with disdain that they could be so careless to let it evade them?

Don’t worry, I suffer with this too. Yet I can’t stand food waste. There’s a campaign at the moment which is looking to force supermarkets to hand over their waste which is deemed edible. I wholeheartedly stand behind this!

https://www.change.org/p/uk-supermarkets-donate-all-unsold-and-edible-food-to-charity-to-feed-our-homeless please take a moment to sign it.

Sometimes the unrealistic standards work in my favour as I claim a bag of peppers for 29p because they go out of date on the day of purchase. But I think we need to change our perceptions of what’s ‘bad’ or ‘off’ and try and salvage what we can.

In response I’ve created a piece called ‘Beauty Standards’ out of the medium of marzipan. Don’t judge the pieces by their appearance. They taste better than they look.

D

Day 4 – £15 a week

Breakfast:

1 bowl of porridge made with a little milk and water
1/2 banana
1 mandarin
1/2 pear
4 prunes
1 egg on toast – who was hungover?

Lunch:

Vegetable soup
Pasta from the other night with added carrot and sweetcorn
6 prunes
1 slice of bread

Dinner:

Bruschetta with goat’s cheese and tomatoes
Roasted potatoes, parsnips and swede

I was delirious with hunger again when I arrived home hence the reason dinner was so big. A huge carb fest with very little protein or any semblance of being balanced but it tasted good.

A friend of a friend who I really like came into rehearsals today went to lunch with my team. I felt so left out that I think I regressed to the aged of 5 with a pouty, titty lip and all. It felt that when they came back they’d been discussing ideas about our piece and making social arrangements which I only learnt of when they were discussing them in more detail. Where’s my mum so I can run and say ‘I can’t play with them’ but this time it’s not a case of they won’t let me. I can’t afford to.

I work during my lunch break because I eat to function and I take no joy what so ever in what I eat. It’s sad.

I’m finding it difficult to cope with work also – I’m unbelievably busy right now and information passes to and from me at an alarming speed. The diet isn’t to blame for me not coping but it’s not helping. I don’t feel fuelled enough to burn the midnight oil and rise at the crack of dawn to finish work (well stop blogging and get working I hear you cry!). If I can eat my way well through a day I can cope with anything, maybe not physically but mentally.

Usually I look forward to my meal breaks in a day because I know I’m going to enjoy the food and also the company. I miss my breakfasts with Marcus and my lunches with the cast. So I sit alone, looking up crap, writing a blog because I don’t take the time to just eat and enjoy. Granted this cannot always happen but of late I’ve been making a concentrated effort to stop and take a breath when a break comes along. I’m more motivated to work solidly and effectively in shorter sharper bursts if I’m fuelled and I’ve got something to look forward to.  To enjoy food, chat and discuss things other than work are bliss.

If anything this experiment will encourage me to enjoy food more and not take it for granted. I will savour every mouthful of food that I have chosen to cook and create and I will be thankful. It’s also made me seek out Glasgow food banks and I’m currently looking at how I can donate my time and food to these charities and help. I want to get a better understanding of how they work and what they mean to the people who use them.

Day 3 – £15 a week (Part II)

You may not be surprised to hear that I did go out to my weekly pub quiz last night and I was not sober by the end of it. If I am being honest – which let’s face it, what’s the point of this blog if I’m not – I was hoping people would buy me a drink. Although I’ve sat in pubs before and drank only water it was a choice because I didn’t want to drink not because I couldn’t financially.

I was bought 4 or 5 drinks in total and was extremely grateful for each one and generously thanked my beverage benefactor. I did not promise my benefactors to pay them back in another week when I wasn’t on this diet, or promise them anything in return. This was a conscious decision because I wouldn’t be able to pay them back or offer them anything if I was receiving benefits. In time to come I will pay these extremely generous people back the £3.30 a bottle I have consumed but it might not be in monetary value as such. I could return the favour to them in other ways, offering to do a job for them, babysitting, anything that isn’t a direct reimbursement and has some sentimental meaning to it. This is purely for me, in times to come I will have my bank card and I will buy my round in turn and pay them back in that sense but I really felt loved last night and surrounding by good people who weren’t looking for reimbursement and I would like to express that in another way.

My food intake looked a little something like this yesterday:

Breakfast:

1 bowl of porridge made with a little milk and water
1/2 banana
1 mandarin
4 prunes

Lunch:

Vegetable soup from the evening before
Half a portion of rice with beetroot, sweet corn, carrot and a little goat’s cheese.
1 mandarin
2 slices of bread
5 prunes

Dinner:

Pasta with 5 plum tomatoes, garlic, 1 mushroom and goat’s cheese rinds (This was tasty)

Post beer:

The other half of my rice salad and a slice of bread

In my drunken ramblings last night my loose tongue revealed a few things. I’ve had a really strong urge to smoke of late. Luckily I don’t carry anything on me but I know I used to smoke to surpress my appetite (not that it ever really worked I was still plump) and to relieve boredom. I’ve been making a very strong effort not to explore this. But I can understand why you’d want to fill your time with extra curricular activities if food isn’t one of them.

I’ve also started to consider that maybe my experiment needs to continue for another week so I can have a better understanding of what it’s like to plan when you know you’ve already got some food in reserve. I’m also keen to find out if my body will crave what I’ve not given it this week. If anyone has any useful suggestions on how I could develop this little experiment to discover more I would be very interested to hear form you.

Day 2 – £15 a week

Today has been a lot more positive. I enjoyed my breakfast, lunch wasn’t attrocious and I even made a lovely soup tonight from some of the veggies in my stew pack. Here’s a run down of the day:

Breakfast:

1 bowl of porridge made with a little milk and water
1/2 banana
1 mandarin
4 prunes

Lunch:

Pasta with passata, garlic, dried basil
1/3 tin of sweetcorn
5 cherry tomatoes
5 prunes
2 slices of sourdough

Dinner:

2 slices of sourdough
1 bowl of vegetable soup

Misc:

A few nuts

Today I changed the way I ate and grazed on all of this throughout the day. I also blew out and drank 2 cups of tea at work (I took my own milk in out of my allowance) as they provide it and I’d be silly not to make use of free tea. I should also point out that I’m drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

I’m interested in people’s advice when I tell them about this diet. Today it was suggested I take tea from work home, I’d like to stress that my house is fully stocked with more kinds of tea than you can ever dream of, but I could not afford that in my budget and I struggle to see how a single person living alone would be able to. This is why I’ve cut it out.
Today was also great as my colleague brought in some nuts and offered me a handful, I feel this was also okay as I wouldn’t refuse something that was being offered in good will to everyone in the room.

Generally I find there’s little temptation, food wise, in work as everything seems to be cake, biscuits or sugar sugar sugar! At home it’s hardest as everyone in my flat eats a similar diet so resisting a wedge of cheese or some butter is very hard. (Especially as it’s things I’ve already bought teasing me in the fridge)

As I say though I’m feeling much more energised today. Yesterday I couldn’t function properly and I was in bed by 10pm and fast asleep. My poor flat mate saw me in such a sorry state when I got home from work, I felt physically and mentally deflated and was delusional.
The diet that was budgeted for on the BBC was for a woman consuming 2000 calories a day but I require more as my job can be quite physical and I do cycle to and from work so I’m exercising everyday. How then can a more active single person physically have the energy on such a small budget? We’re encouraged to exercise and keep fit and healthy but how could someone do this on such a deficient diet? Or a male in fact who require a whole 500 cals more?

I’m lucky I’m surrounded with such support and love in my life but yesterday was a taster at how throughly draining, mentally, a bad diet can be. I have a week of this but there is an end in sight for me. I would be a very dour faced stage manager if I didn’t know when I could next buy an avocado. I don’t even want extravagant things in my life but I would like to be able to afford the £2 it would cost for me to make yogurt for a couple of weeks and I mean a lot of yoghurt. This would be an excellent source of dairy providing me with calcium and protein. I am worried about the lack of protein in my diet and lack of fibre. Some beans or lentils wouldn’t go a miss right now.

I did make a really great soup tonight and I made a lovely egg friend rice last night so tasty dishes can be created but it’s so hard vary the dishes you can make with just potato and carrots. Hopefully I will invent a really tasty recipe and post it soon but for now food only serves a purpose and isn’t bringing me it’s usual joy.

Day 1 – £15 a week

I woke up this morning relatively positive. I was gently awakened by the delicious smell of fresh bread – bliss. It feels like it’s all gone a bit down hill from there. Tired, falling asleep in work, being generally hungry and miserable not great.

My meals today:

Breakfast

Porridge (made with a little milk and water)
1/2 Banana
3 Dried prunes
1 Mandarin
2 Slices of bread

Lunch

Rice with beetroot, carrot and w/w vinegar. I also popped three thin slices of goats cheese
1 Mandarin
5 Cherry Tomatoes
1 Slice of Bread

Dinner

Mushroom and egg friend rice
2 Slices of bread
3 Prunes
1 Mandarin

I am physically exhausted. I brought work home to do but cannot. I’m trying to write this in minutes because I need to go to bed. Pretty miserable day today, found it hard to deal with the challenges of work and for the first time in an age I was falling asleep in the rehearsal room. Very unprofessional!

I’ve also been cold most of the day and unable to get warm. I’ve only drank water so who knows maybe I’m having caffeine withdrawal.  People offered to buy my lunch today, or loan me money or encouraged me to pilfer what I can. It’s amazing how much sympathy/empathy people can have with me because they know me yet as a nation it’s easy to forget how hard it is for the millions we don’t know.

I may be more eloquent in the morning so apologies for the lack of reflection. I would love to have the entire government put on a restricted budget for a month. I’d even be generous and give the £20 a week to manage. It’s hard to eat well on so little if you’ve not spent hundreds on a great store cupboard.

Tonight as I drift off to sleep I’m going to be agonising over whether or not I allow myself a stock cube to make soup otherwise I’m eating seasoned veg water for a while.