Bear and I are having very different experiences as we commence the first experiment. I'm finding myself very anxious, even fearful about our food. For me, this has rapidly become about what we can't have - about restrictions and fear, rather than about positive changes and freedom. I find myself thinking about food all the time, fretting about the next meal rather than looking forward to it.
It's been many years, but there was a stretch of time when, working full time at minimum wage, I didn't have enough money to pay rent and bills and buy groceries. There were times when I scrounged through the apartment looking for enough spare change to buy a pack of ramen noodles. There were a couple of times when I was desperate enough to go to a local food bank. They wanted to know what I was going to do differently so as not to require their assistance, and they weren't particularly kind about it. When I look back over the last twenty years, this was definitely a very low point.
Being on a very strict budget now brings back a lot of the old fear, to an extent that I never would have expected. Despite the fact that I can say "to heck with this" at any time, the $70 per week feels like a very real limit. Bear sees this as an experiment. I realized that I see this as a personal challenge, which means that the outcome of this experiment for me is not a yes or no answers to questions we're asking, it's a matter of will I succeed or will I fail?
So, naturally I find this to be a bit more fraught, more frightening.
We're eating better, more healthy food than we have for a while. I've cut my sugar intake by about half, and we've probably doubled the fiber in our diets. We're eating really good, whole foods, and a lot less processed food (although we've got some Tofutti Cuties in the freezer right now). And hilariously, I find myself craving all the fruits and vegetables that we can't get right now grown in Oregon and Washington. Putting them on the nuh-uh list makes me want 'em pretty bad.
I find myself hungry more often, but that just may be due to the illusion of scarcity. Really, there's a lot of good things to eat in the kitchen and no threat of going hungry. I'm too conscious of our limits to snack and risk running out of food before each week is over. I'm pretty sure that this particular fear is going to fade as the days go by.
One of the reasons I wanted to do this is to explore my relationship with food. The last few days have given me plenty to think about. And I promise to be more cheerful in the very near future.