Home | About | Archives | Elsewhere

September 19, 2010
2010 Hunger Challenge -- Day 7 recap

The challenge ended yesterday. For the week, I spent $27.74 and consumed 17775 calories. That averages out to $3.96 and 2539 calories per day. According to FitDay, a calorie tracking program, a person my age/gender/weight/height burns 2525 calories on a daily basis, just doing the regular stuff I do each day, with exercise not included in that number. (And it turns out I didn't exercise much during the week, only going on one 40-mile ride and a couple of walks). So I was able to meet my daily calorie needs pretty well on the $4 diet. Having said that, I still ended up losing 5 lbs, so maybe my basal metabolic rate is actually higher than what FitDay estimates, or maybe there aren't as many calories in some of those foods as listed.

In any case, it has been an interesting experience, and I think I am going to continue sticking to this $4 maximum for awhile, or at try to stick to it. One, because I'd like to drop some more weight, two, because I like the idea of saving some money, and three, to see if I can keep to the limit and make the diet a little healthier. I have never really approached grocery shopping that consciously and thus don't have a ton of expertise about the cheapest fruits/vegetables to look for, have never used coupons, and I typically didn't spend a lot of time browsing/exploring while buying for this week. The big weaknesses in my diet were a lot of processed grains -- i.e., spaghetti and macaroni and cheese -- and virtually no vegetables. So that's what I will try to improve on.

To a degree, I am skeptical about "McDonald's makes poor people obese" arguments, and this experiment has solidified that skepticism. It would be virtually impossible to get obese eating at fast food places on as little as $4 a day....even if you're eating off the dollar menu, that will typically only buy you 1200 calories at most. And if you're buying things like Big Macs or KFC Double Downs, $4 won't even get you past 600 calories or so.

But a 44 cent box of macaroni and cheese yields 520 calories, and a 9 cent tablespoon of butter adds 100. So 620 calories for 53 cents. For $3.18, you could get 3720 calories a day, which would definitely be enough to qualify you for a spot on "The Biggest Loser" eventually. I'm sure there are similar foods in the grocery stores as well that provide similar calories per dollar -- the cookies I bought were one....

On the other hand, in moderation, well, those mac and cheese meals kept me from feeling too hungry, kept my budget low, and allowed me to spend a little more for healthier options at other meals. You could say they were a crucial part of my success at maintaining a somewhat healthy diet under tough financial constraints.

Eventually, I hope to elaborate on these thoughts some more, but for now, this will have to do.

Meanwhile, here's a recap of Saturday's food.

Breakfast: Oatmeal, 1/2 cup soy, banana, cranberries. Cost: $1.12, calories: 600

1st lunch: Apple, peanut butter sandwich, and 8 oz. orange juice. Cost: 85 cents, calories: 561

2nd lunch: Mac and cheese with one teaspoon butter. Cost: 53 cents, calories: 620

Dinner: Chicken and rice and 1/4 cup cheese. Cost: $1.33, calories: 652

Snack: Peanut butter sandwich. Cost: 38 cents, calories: 370


Posted by Greg Beato at 08:12 AM