Home > Uncategorized > Put food in the budget: recap of day one

Put food in the budget: recap of day one

The bright, almost neon orange colour of the cheese powder from the boxed macaroni and cheese startled me last night. When I dropped it onto the off-white noodles, I was struck by how unnatural it looked. Obviously it’s been a long time since I’ve eaten mac & cheese. I never really thought of it before now, but what is that stuff made with?

It’s funny I find myself surprised by the colour. When I was a kid, KD and hotdogs were a delicious treat. My brother and I loved that stuff. Even in university I found it to be a quick and yummy meal.

My taste for it hasn’t changed. It was pretty good, and definitely filling. In fact, my boyfriend, who isn’t taking part in the challenge, noted that my dinner smelled great. Of course, he was enjoying leftover brown sugar ham and leftover birthday cake. Too bad we couldn’t trade.

While it was filling, I have to ask myself how healthy it is to be eating this more than once and a while. Since I can’t possibly eat the entire box on my own, I have leftovers for lunch. But the sodium content gives me pause for thought. Actually, looking at the list of food items I’m allowed, sodium is a real concern. I’m loathe to eat canned vegetables, even if I do rinse them in an attempt to get some of that brine off. I probably shouldn’t even look at the contents of those hotdogs.

In early 2010 I wrote an article about the Champlain Local Health Integration Network’s sodium reduction strategy. As part of that challenge, I kept a food diary and then let a dietician delve into my eating habits.

“You’re not too bad,” University of Ottawa Heart Institute’s dietician Kathleen Turner told me when we had a chance to talk about my food logs. “You’re within target.”

I consumed about 1,900 mg of sodium, above the 1,500 mg maximum but below the upper tolerable limit of 2,400 mg. Not great, but not bad either. She gave me some great advice on how to reduce it even further, like avoiding cheese-stuffed pasta and pre-made pasta sauce.

I’ve since switched to an organic, no salt added sauce (because I just can’t be bothered to make my own) and plain noodles.

But those options aren’t available to me right now. I can only imagine what the response from a dietician would be if they saw my current meal plan. Eating high sodium foods now and then is one thing, but having little or no choice is problematic.

So far it appears there’s enough food to eat from the food hamper. The issue might not be one of quantity, but instead one of quality.

Or maybe I need to be even more creative with how I prepare the food I have on hand, instead of blindly following the directions on the box.

Day one at a glance:

Breakfast – cup of tea (bad me skipped eating)

Lunch – peanut butter sandwich and cup of tea

Snack – tap water (I should’ve brought two sandwiches – I was getting hungry)

Dinner – macaroni and cheese with 2 cubed hotdogs mixed in (ate about 1/3 of the box)

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