In support of World Hunger Day, our merchandising manager Jo has been taking on the ‘Living Below the Line’ challenge in which the total value of all food and drink she consumes for a day must be below £1. Here’s how she found day five, the final day of the challenge!

Apologies for the delay in writing up Day 5 of the challenge; this week at the People Tree office has been extremely busy!  The last day of the Living Below the Line challenge was Monday and I woke feeling tired and unwell.  The diet wasn’t agreeing with my stomach so I was glad the end was in sight!

Mondays are always busy in the office; as a merchandiser I’m reviewing the previous week’s sales and we have many meetings on the sales, the best & worst sellers, what to promote that week and what is going out in the customer emails.  So all this helped keep my mind off the hunger and stomach cramps.

I had my usual breakfast of toast then porridge at work, lunch was the last of the pasta and then for dinner I had a jacket potato and beans.  I was surprised that I had food left -I still had the crusts of the loaf of bread plus a few biscuits.  The reason I was occasionally hungry was because I wasn’t eating enough of the right food; it wasn’t filling me up!  So I proved you can live off £1 a day but at what cost?  My stomach wasn’t very happy and if I continued the diet I think my body would have got used to it but too little protein and fruit couldn’t be good long term.  As I mentioned before, I’m lucky to have the choice, not everyone is quite so fortunate.  Therefore I want this experience to make me change some habits for good –something positive has to come out of it, other than the money raised through sponsorship.  By the way, thank you to all who sponsored me, if you’re reading this!  The majority of the sponsorship came from the rest of the People Tree team –so thank you!

By Tuesday I was excited to have my first cup of tea in almost a week!  And I was so surprised I didn’t gorge on chocolate straight after the challenge!

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So how will this exercise change my life you ask?  On Monday night I thought I would hopefully eat little and often, rather than eating too much in one meal.  I usually eat little and often but not when dining out or getting a takeaway; when you eat out you feel as though you should eat it all because it’s a waste of money otherwise but we shouldn’t feel embarrassed to ask for a doggy bag and save it for later!  I also think I eat too much processed meat so if possible I would like to cut down.  And finally I’d like to eat less sugar.  Other than feeling ill on day 5, over the other days I felt better for not overeating, eating no meat and very little sugar so I thought it would be easy to translate into my diet in the future.  Writing this on Friday I can say that so far it’s been possible;  even though I could eat what I wanted on Tuesday I still didn’t eat any meat –this was by accident and not a conscious decision so maybe the challenge had affected me subconsciously?   Where I would have dessert after dinner most nights, I haven’t done for the rest of the week when I could have, so this meant less sugar and I didn’t eat more than I needed.

I think this will have long term effects so I would definitely recommend others to try it –although maybe only for 3-4 days.  It’s made me think about what and how much I eat and also I’ve raised £175 for Action Against Hunger.  As I write this, the whole Live Below the Line challenge has raised £550k.  If you don’t fancy living on £1 a day you could do the Come Dine Below the Line challenge where you arrange your own dinner party for the cause.  Details can be found on the Hunger Project’s website…

http://www.thehungerproject.co.uk/getinvolved/live-below-the-line/come-dine-below-the-line-channel4/

All in all it was a useful and challenging experiment.  Any time I start to think I’m taking my variety of food for granted, or my diet becomes bad I’ll do it again as a detox, but maybe I’ll treat myself to some fruit!!

 Jo W Photo

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