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Day 7: A Girl Has to Eat!

It’s Day 7 and the hungers have hit hard. Earlier in the week I thought it was smooth sailing, that this year was so much easier than last year. However since Day 5 arrived, it’s been a slow, steady decline in energy and fortitude.

If one was fasting or not taking in any sugars, with the body starved of glucose, they would enter a state of ketosis fairly quickly, within a few days. At this time the switch is made from burning readily available glucose (sugar), to using stored fat. While there’s a lot of debate around nutritional ketosis, burning fats to fuel the brain and body is very efficient and can be quite energising. Just to be clear, to enter that state you’d need to be eating less that 0.5g of sugar each day – regardless of source (including fruit!).

By comparison, on the refugee diet, we’re getting simple sugars the form of white rice and processed flour. Anyone eating this diet is getting so little nutrition (no Vitamin C at all), is extremely low on calories, but yet never enters ketosis. At the same time there’s not enough protein to be sustaining. My calculations put us at approximately 5g of sugar per day (1/5th the maximum recommended intake for women – 1/7th for men). Eating refugee rations puts you on the roller coaster of a high-glycemic diet while at the same time providing a low quality vegetable oil as the only fat (300ml for the week). This means a lot of meals are fried, contributing to the inflammation and general malaise already caused by the quality and quantity of food.

To put this in context, compare the 5g of sugar intake per day on a refugee ration diet to the average Australian daily intake of 60g.

…Neither is a good idea.

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

How people could possibly raise families on this type of diet is totally beyond imagination. I cannot begin to think what it must be like for parent to watch their children grow up under the duress of a refugee camp, to not have enough to eat, to get sick, to have limited resources (including energy!) to learn. This week has been such a reminder of just how truly fortunate we are to have a safe place to sleep and enough to eat. Scraping the plate for every last grain of rice, weighing each meal out careful to ensure supplies last, the limitations of energy makes me realise just how abundant we.

Thank you all for donating so generously to this cause. We’ve now raised over $1900 and will have our page open for further donations over the coming weeks.

Tomorrow we will break our rationing with pancakes! Time to to sleep so morning comes quickly!

Day 6: Everything is Grey

Day 6 is an extension of Day 5. The hours pass slowly and everything feels a bit dull. Looking back on last year’s post at this time, I felt the same way then. Lethargic, low, grey.

This is only 6 days of eating low-calorie, low-nutrition food. I can’t imagine how someone living in a refugee camp, surviving violence and terror, losing home and family, vulnerable and frightened, would feel. Food is such a small part of their experience, but living on these rations makes me truly grateful for how much of the refugee experience I don’t have to live.

Thankfully I have been kept busy teaching yoga at the nursing home around the corner. It seems the older generation often notes how fortunate we are to be in Australia. They call it the “land of milk and honey”, where people have enough to eat and a safe place to sleep. Most of them lived through the second world war and it is never forgotten. Gratitude and awareness of the good in life is always on their mind – something easily forgotten when living in constant comfort.

The support from our community has been incredible. We’ve raised over $1700. The generosity and empathy of our friends and families towards this cause is inspiring. Thank you!

I’m off to teach another class, thank goodness, otherwise I’d just melt down into my chair and slide into a puddle on the floor. Wish me luck, and, as usual, donate here.

Day 5: You’ve Got to Groove in the Face of Adversity

This morning I woke up sad. There was no reason for it, I just felt a bit down and not quite myself. I remember feeling rather low during much of the Ration Challenge last year. Mid-afternoon is when my energy plummets, and the struggle is real! I become dyslexic at times, and struggle to keep my lefts and rights straight (not good for a yoga teacher!). Fortunately a solid meditation practice evens me out in the morning, and yoga is a good refresher in the afternoon. Still… I miss my snacks.

I love snacks, but I have noticed that they fill the gap often when I’m tired and need sleep or restless and need exercise. Or when I’m feeling low and need to talk. This week has demonstrated how much easier it is to mindlessly eat something instead of notice what I’m feeling and what I actually need.

To me, the challenge of eating rations for the week is less about quantity of food than quality of it. If I had to guess, I’d say fruit and veg comprise about 70% of what we eat, and my energy levels are directly impacted by their absence. It makes me wonder how people who don’t eat fruit or veg must feel on a regular basis.

You’ve got to groove in the face of adversity.

Don Was
Don Was. Grooving.

Teaching yoga and working has been wonderful. Aside from some parietal lobe dysfunction and noisy stomach rumblings (a little awkward during savasana), it’s been a very welcome way to get my thoughts off myself and be of service, which is really energising.

Next up, Day 6 – which is only 4 days from birthday cake on Sunday! (Happy birthday to me!) I know you were planning on sending a present, but let’s just make it easy and you can donate to the Refugee Ration Challenge instead? ­čÖé

As a thank you for reading, a link to the always-grooving Don Was (quoted above), from his pre-Rolling Stones era:

Day 4: A Hopeful Look to the Future

Today we went to go see 2040, an excellent film about what the world will look like in the future if society takes decisions, now, to change our ways and use currently available technologies to radically change our agriculture, education, transport and healthcare systems. It’s an extremely hopeful film in a time when there doesn’t seem to be many positive predictions for the future. I highly recommend that everyone see it ASAP! (It’s about time there was some good news!)

Although the film addressed many different ways in which we can change, two movements caught my eye – especially as they relate to refugees. We can’t change that the polar ice caps are melting and that ocean levels are rising, ultimately pushing many people in developing nations out of their homes and flooding arable land. By the year 2100, Cornell University scientists predict 2 billion people could be climate change refugees due to rising sea levels. This situation is desperate, unavoidable, devastating. The film references the great potential in commercially farming seaweed in the ocean. This led me to consider possibilities that will exist through farming seaweed in flooded coastal areas. I know the potential uses and nutritional value of seaweed are diverse, and using this as a food staple, creating local economies in places otherwise devastated by flooding waters seems incredibly hopeful.

The other item mentioned was girls and women’s empowerment. This is clearly an important cause, but I never spent much time considering the environmental impact of educating women. Women who attain high levels of education are less likely to have unwanted pregnancies and will delay having children. Women in developing countries with little or no education (primary school or less), have an average of 5 children – most of whom are unlikely to surpass the education level of their mother. When women are educated communities flourish, and birthrates decline, and educated women raise educated children – exponentially improving the situation. To this end, Project Drawdown estimates 105 gigatones of CO2 emissions could be reduced by 2050.

It was a bit of positivity for someone like me who is often hangry (well, this week at least!) and always depressed at hearing the news.

So, check out 2040 right now! Get on the movement! …and in the meantime, go to our Refugee Ration Challenge page to donate! We’re still hungry, but have $1300 in donations to show for it. Share the love and a few bucks!

Day 3: A Man Who Knows How to Cook Rice

If I were single doing this Ration Challenge, I’d be eating plain white rice, pouring ration oil in it, and sprinkling salt on top. Thank God I married a man who knows how to cook rice! Sean is brilliant; he’s made little pancakes, rice cakes, curried fried rice (sans egg, of course), and this morning made a soup of our boiled chickpea ration. I swear, he’s keeping me alive.

This year we’ve raised a good deal of money early in the challenge, so we’ve been able to make use of two spices early on (curry powder and cinnamon are what we chose). They make all the difference, in addition to salt which has been an easy “reward” to get based on funds raised.

Thanks to everyone who has chipped in to raise money for refugees and help us make rice taste good! You’re champions. Our donation site, as always, is right here. (Only $28 away from a serving of vegetables! )

Day 2: 300g Lighter

Sean: “I’ve made some congee for us”

Daryl: “Food?! Yay!”

eating…

Sean: “How is it?”

Daryl: “Tastes like rice, water and salt.”

Day 2, a Sunday, is the day where I begin to realise how much I look forward to eating in my everyday life. Paradoxically it’s while I have these realisations about how much I love eating that I also come to see how much I take it for granted, and how mindless I can be when eating and preparing food.

When on a limited food ration each step on the way to eating becomes significant. The determination to get every kernel of rice that rattles around the bottom of an empty package, the precaution taken when straining cooking water, the appreciation of the smells of cooking when walking up the stairwell – all of these become fixation points. I don’t mean to sound overly dramatic, and it’s certainly not like we’re seriously ‘going hungry’, but it’s amazing how quickly the body and mind tune in to try to stretch every meal, every ration, just a bit farther. Sean has even taken to serving dinner in small ice cream bowls as it tricks us into believing there’s more food in proportion to bowl.

Refugee life…. is certainly much harder than this. Send some love their way. https://my.rationchallenge.org.au/t/shoda1

Refugee Ration Challenge Day 1: Weigh In

After a night of indulging in pizza and ice cream, Sean and I woke this morning to the beginning of the Refugee Ration Challenge, 2019 edition.

We are starting a day earlier than most as my birthday is next week and I selfishly plan to eat that weekend. Besides, it’s better to get going. Anticipation is harder than the real thing.

I have to admit I’m entering the week of living off Syrian refugee rations a bit nervous. Last year was incredible: we were overwhelmed by the generosity and goodwill of our wonderful community who empathise with people living across the world in very different conditions. We raised over $2700, and couldn’t have been more impressed or more grateful. I must admit though, the challenge was very taxing; in one week I lost 3.4kgs (7.5lbs), and definitely felt the effects of living on a low volume of low quality food.

This year I’m starting the challenge at 58.2kg (last year was 60kg), and am both curious and anxious about losing the same amount of weight as I did last year. Also, in 2018, I was waiting for my visa to come through and didn’t have a day job. This year I’m teaching yoga, often several classes in a day, and traveling through the city. Despite being concerned about my energy levels, I think this will probably be a blessing as it takes focus off myself and brings me into the present. As I said before, anticipating is hard, but that only happens when living in the future – waiting for the next meal or for sleep.

The Challenge is an emotional time as our focus is on those living in dire conditions in refugee camps. Our conversations centre around these issues and our hearts stay with these people. We are aware that what we are doing is a very simple and limited re-creation of a minor part of refugee experience. Danger, violence, and loss cannot be recreated, but we hope that by having this experience for a week we can gain some small understanding of what people in our world are going through, and to help in our humble way.

Watch this space to follow my whinging about hunger pains – there will be more to come. In the meantime, please take a moment to send a wish, a prayer, a wisp of goodwill to those in our world suffering from loss of home, lack of food, and disconnection. And please, if you’re able to donate, please visit our site here.

We Got Married!

Oh yes we did. The Mamo blessed us over a year prior, a JP signed off on our defacto (common-law) status, the Australian government has our partnership visa application, Uncle Noel gave us a smoking ceremony and finally a registered celebrant of New South Wales proclaimed us hitched. We’re about as official as it gets!

The day was simple, beautiful and surrounded by incredible friends and family. Standing on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, we started our marriage on the rocks, and decided we could only go up from there!

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

I don’t think I ever expected to get married. I always thought it would be nice to find someone that I’d want to marry, but expectations and personal thirst for change, new places and freedom made me think marriage wasn’t much of an option for someone like me.

People say “when you know, you know”, and I suppose that applies to me. I still have the sense that change is constant – even more constant now that I live in coupledom. Smaller changes, little thoughts and feelings get a voice – or more accurately, an ear, which makes life feel bigger. Little things are more significant, small pleasures like sharing a meal or hanging curtains are oddly satisfying. (How my 24 year old self would cringe to read this!)

Despite comparison to my old busy life, “settling down” has done anything but settle me down. Instead I’ve supercharged into an agent of continual revision. Because that ear is there, it holds me accountable not just to my dreams and plans, but also to being a nicer, more caring, more patient, compassionate person.

With time I realise that many things I thought so important were restrictive just by nature of holding them so tight. Stressed importance leads to increased expectation, and a firmer insistence on the way things “should be”.

Take our upcoming nuptials for example. My parents married in 1982 on a Tuesday night in front of 21 people when my dad got home from work. I always thought that was the way to do things. Quiet, intimate, no fuss. And that is a way of doing things. However the man I’m marrying is not a quiet, no-fuss kind of guy. He makes a fuss in the best possible way – Christmas, birthdays, the month of April, Mondays, Tuesdays – are all things to be celebrated in his book. So why should a wedding be less of an occasion?

Initially opposed to having more than 60 guests, I’ve now relaxed and in opening our wedding up to over 100, I’ve had the pleasure of many people (unexpectedly delighted at receiving an invitation to share our day) send love our way. It’s so fun already and the wedding is still 7 weeks away!

Things change. Life is change. The more life goes on and things change the more I realise I never know what is good or bad. Hell, I often don’t know even years after if something was good or bad. Changes just happen and I suppose the only thing to do is to set one’s self up to respond in the most positive way to the twists and turns of life’s rollercoaster. Besides, change never hurt Bowie.

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