The Real Food Guide

Live Below the Line: Day 5


Eating Real Food on a budget - live below the line challenge

Today was the last day of the Live Below the Line challenge. The urge to ‘cheat’ and eat some fruit after dinner was very very tempting… but I didn’t give in, since tomorrow I go back to ‘normal’. I have been fortunate that I have never experienced true hunger; the most I experienced these past 5 days was just a sense of hollowness. The experience of this challenge has really made me appreciate the small things, and to be quite frank, I’m not sure that I would be able to survive on such a meager food budget for the long-term. As I stated yesterday, I suspect that my health would suffer in the long run, but beyond an unsightly rash, living in extreme poverty would likely take a huge mental toll – I read this very timely account of the emotions and anxiety of not having enough.

I am drained, and I’m not sure it’s only because of what I’ve been eating. I’ll collect my thoughts and post a follow-up next week. For now though, here’s the run-down of what I ate on the last day of the challenge:

Eating Real Food on a budget - Live below the line challenge - eggs and spinachBreakfast, Day 5

Breakfast was two eggs, scrambled with about a teaspoon of butter and about 1/10th of my bunch of spinach.

Cost of breakfast breakdown

Two eggs: $0.34
1/10th bunch of spinach: $0.10
butter: $0.03

Breakfast sub-total: $0.47

Eating Real Food on a Budget - Fried riceLunch, Day 5

In all 5 days of the challenge, I never felt tired – a little hungry now and then, yes – but not tired. About two hours after lunch I could’ve easily crawled back into bed to take a nice snooze. I don’t normally ever feel like napping during the day, so I suspect it had something to do with the high glycemic load of the rice, and the subsequent sugar crash about 2 hours later. I didn’t have the same reaction yesterday though.

1 serving of fried rice: $0.40

Lunch sub-total: $0.40

Eating Real Food on a Budget - Fried Rice for dinnerDinner, Day 5

Dinner was the same as lunch and again, about an hour and a half after dinner, I felt really beat. Just wiped. I really think it’s got to do with the effect of such a starchy meal on my blood sugar. Refined starches like rice, break down to sugar very quickly in the bloodstream so they give you that energy rush, but then, when it’s done, your blood sugar drops and you crash.

1 serving of fried rice: $0.40

Dinner sub-total: $0.40

Total cost of day 5 $1.27

Adding up all five days, I spent $8.63, and used up all of the food I had bought. I might be under-budget only because I neglected to use all of my butter, when I had roast drippings instead. All that’s left are the bones and vegetable trimmings that had been simmered for about three days. These will finally go into the compost bin.

How I Feel at the End of the Challenge

Inflammation of the neck - food sensitivity reactionThe worst is that my skin still feels itchy and very irritated on my arms and legs, but it’s the worst on my neck. It’s dry, scaly, hot to the touch and red. I think I’m sensitive to the chicken or the rice that I’ve been eating. I went back to taking my  Fermented Cod Liver Oil supplement ($1.15/tsp!) this morning in an attempt to help normalize things. I’ve used coconut oil to moisturize and cortisone cream to help calm it. None of these options would be possible within the limits of my budget. I hope my skin returns back to normal soon.

I do feel fuller today than any other day of the challenge because of the two large bowls of rice. While it was a nice to end off the challenge feeling rather sated, I also feel tired and bloated, whereas on days that I didn’t feel full, I felt cranky.

This challenge was a lot harder than I thought it would be, and I’m left feeling immensely grateful that extreme poverty isn’t my reality.

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This is the eighth post in the Live Below the Line series, where I’ll be attempting to feed myself Real Food for $1.75 per day, for five days. You can also support me in the challenge and donate to the cause – I’ll be raising money for Raising the Village. Or, you can donate to my team Bloggers Living Below the Line; make sure to check out our collective blog of our challenge experience.


Vivian is the founder of the Real Food Guide and a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN) who believes that each individual needs to go on their own Real Food Journey to find what works. While she herself eats a diet of real food (aka a paleo diet), some people may find that they can flourish on a vegetarian diet instead. However, universal to optimal health and well-being is good quality, nutrient-dense, Real Food.

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May 4 |

4 thoughts on “Live Below the Line: Day 5

  1. […] intolerance can be the root cause of a number of symptoms such as skin problems (e.g. eczema, like I have), respiratory problems (e.g. asthma), migraines, gastrointestinal issues and more. I recently came […]

  2. […] I’ve discussed in the past, I personally have issues with eczema, food intolerances and leaky gut. From a nutritional perspective, healing can happen when you […]

  3. […] I’ve personally found it very successful in addressing my various health issues including eczema, leaky gut, food intolerances and more, but it does involve the elimination of common inflammatory […]

  4. Tasha says:

    Hi! I have an itchy red rash on my neck too. My hands get it bad too and I’m starting to get itchy, but not yet red spots on my face too. For me, I think it’s caused by menopause (I had to suddenly quit my bioidentical estrogen – not recommended to suddenly quit, as it’s no fun) and the sudden hormone change triggering my autoimmunity. High levels of stress haven’t been helping my cause either. I also live in Canada too, so I think the weather has been a factor for me too. I’m already on a restrictive diet that most closely resembles the autoimmune Paleo diet and I’m on a number of supplements as well. I’m also on Chinese herbs to try to balance out my hormones and to calm my over-active sympathetic system. The herbs are helpful, but I do wonder what sort of toxins/pesticides are in the herbs. I’m also trying acupuncture, reflexology, homeopathy, meditation, juicing, essential oils. I’ve been stubbornly holding out on cortisone cream since I have crazy HPA dysfunction (really high cortisol) and I’ve heard that even topical steroids can affect the HPA dysfunction even more (this info is through the DUTCH test people). I had really severe eczema in the past and after trying steroids without getting better, I discovered back then that I was hitting menopause early. That’s when I went on bioidentical estrogen & progesterone and my eczema went away, until I had to recently drop the estrogen for other health reasons. So I’ve been trying so many natural creams and ointments, but the rashes are still around.

    Anyways, just wanted to let you know that you are not alone in trying to deal with eczema. If I think of anything else that’s helped me, I’ll pass it on to you!!

    Take care!

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