The 10 Things The #Rationchallenge Taught Me.
This last week I participated in the #rationchallenge created by Act for Peace. The experience was life changing. I wanted to share the 10 things that moved me the most during my week. And what I will take away from living off basically rice for a week.
First here is a little about the challenge.
What is the #rationchallenge?
The Ration Challenge is one week of living off the equivalent Refugee Food Ration that would be given to Syrian refugees in Jordan. It consisted of the following
|Dried Chick Peas||85g|
|Tinned kidney beans||400g|
When I raised particular milestones in donations, things were added. So I also received
- 1 spice – I choose curry powder
- 170g of one vegetable (I got on day 4) – I choose celery
- 50g of sugar – I added this to my rice at breakfast (day 2)
- 8 tea bags
- $5 to buy one item – I bought a packet of biscuits (day 6) (The worst idea EVER! It was in the evening, I was craving sugar – I am an idiot! Wish I chose a banana)
- Milk powder – I used 1 can of coconut milk instead as I don’t drink dairy
- I also replaced the sardines with another can of chickpeas
- 120g of protein – I choose spinach (day 4)
The idea is to raise funds to support refugees who have lost everything: Providing food rations, medical care, education and psychosocial support. To raise awareness and to create lasting change.
Alone, with the donations from my friends and family, I was able to raise $1,317.40 which provides 4 families with health care for a year. Together the 14,000 participants raised $3,065,197.
Who is Act For Peace and what do they do?
Act for Peace is a member of the , a global network of grass-roots aid organisations working together in over 140 countries. Together we mobilise about $1.5 billion each year to create positive and sustainable change in the lives of poor and marginalised people regardless of their religion, politics, gender, sexual orientation, race or nationality in keeping with the highest international codes and standards.
Act For Peace has the following mission.
Today, there are more refugees, asylum seekers and displaced people worldwide than at any time since World War II. That’s more than 65 million people forced to flee their homes to escape conflict and disaster.
They are the world’s most vulnerable people; mothers and fathers struggling to feed their children; sons and daughters missing out on an education; people dying for want of basic medical care that we take for granted in Australia; and families who, after losing everything, are not getting the support they deserve to rebuild their lives.
It’s a terrible injustice. And one that we can, and must, overcome.
We believe that when people all over the world work together, big changes really are possible. That’s why we’ve made it our mission to act in partnership with other passionate people, like you, across the globe to achieve safety, justice and dignity in communities threatened by conflict and natural disaster. We don’t think there is any task more important.
With your support, we respond fast in an emergency to deliver lifesaving aid – including food, shelter and water – to where it’s needed most. You’re also supporting long-term development projects that help communities to tackle their own problems – whether that’s giving girls a brighter future through education, helping farmers grow enough to eat or supporting refugees to return home safely after a conflict has ended.
The Top 10 Things The #Rationchallenge Taught Me.
Living off rations is hard!
Okay so I already knew that living off little to no food would be hard, I didn’t think coming into this ‘man this will be easy’, but I didn’t see the obstacles for what they really were until I started. Breaking down the pack into my daily portions was confronting. However I was thinking ‘there’s plenty of rice here’ (honestly it’s not plenty, it is just way more than I had originally thought). But that was the hardest part for me. SO MUCH RICE. And the lack of flavour, spice, salt, stock, pepper, vegetables meant that each meal was pretty plain. I found it particularly challenging preparing food for George (my 19 month old son), and just the smell of an orange would have my stomach turning and my mouth salivating.
During the week I broke my meals up into the following:
Breakfast – Coconut milk and rice
Lunch – I made 3 roti from flour and water, and a small amount of hummus from the chickpeas and water
Sometimes I had rice with curry powder and 3 tablespoons of red kidney beans
Dinner – 1 roti, rice with curry powder and 3 tablespoons of red kidney beans
Every second night I would also have Lentil soup made from lentils, water and curry powder (When I got the celery and spinach I added some to this)
I would eat dinner around 5-6pm. I felt like it helped me get through the day when my food was closer together.
Snacks – Roti and celery sticks. (However I tried to stick to meals)
- I WILL NEVER EAT RICE AGAIN!
Rice brain is a real thing. After eating meals (all of which pretty much contained rice), I would hit a massive slump in energy and mood. My mind would go foggy, it was harder to think clearly and my body slowed right down. Sometimes I would even get massive headaches. I ate rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Just thinking about rice makes my brain hurt now. And towards the end of the week, I actually couldn’t eat all the allocated rice for eat meal. I am hoping that the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ is an exaggeration – but I do know it is going to be a really, really long time. (So if you have plans to have me over for dinner any time soon, keep rice off the menu)
- A Balanced Diet is so IMPORTANT.
Since I had studied nutrition at university for three years, I had a pretty good grasp of the requirements of a balanced diet. However, I have never experienced the extreme effects of bad diets before. I am all about balance and if I am out for dinner I will eat dessert (it’s my favourite meal), but generally I am pretty consistent with eating wholefoods. So living off rice and beans for a week, it shook me. The mental fogginess, the low’s after each meal, the struggle to eat through the same food each meal. Variety is key and food is delicious. I still salivate when I think about eating a home cooked meal, or salad, or even biting into a fresh piece of fruit. The first meal after I finished the 7 days of rice, it literally rejuvenated my whole body. I instantly felt my cells suck up every last drop from what I had eaten. And oddly I feel like I could live off the meal for days. One good meal can make all the difference.
- How Bad Sugar Really Is.
I am a sugar lover. I make my own sweet treats and eat a bunch of fruit. I could eat $20 worth of dates in one sitting and feel fine. But deciding to buy biscuits as my $5 treat was the worst decision. After having no sugar for the first 4 days, the hit of processed crap in the biscuits actually made me feel so ill. I instantly felt the race from the sugar and my mouth was coated in this fatty layer. I couldn’t believe how badly my body was reacting to the food. It got me thinking about the many people (2/3 Australians) who are overweight or obese and consume on a daily basis, highly processed, high sugar foods. No wonder they don’t feel compelled to exercise when they are feeling so shit from the food they are eating. What’s worse is we feed these foods to our kids. We literally are what we eat. Our cells are formed from the nutrients we feed ourselves. (read more about how we digest food here.)
- I Metabolised My Emotions.
I have never fasted, or been someone who even believed in the benefits. However, this week has showed me some of the benefits. Before I started the challenge I was struggling to move through some crappy emotions I just couldn’t shake. I could see that I was stuck in a pattern and I was trying to get myself out of it, but nothing was working. Probably because I was trying to disarm the problem, not create a solution.The weeks leading up to the challenge I had even noticed that I had withdrawn from my relationships. Then the weirdest thing happened. When I took on the challenge and decreased my daily food intake by 1/3 or more, my body started to process and shift the shitty emotions. I started to feel more clear, my emotions weren’t all cluttered. And while I struggled immediately after meals, the periods between meals, and before them, I actually felt great. I gained insight and inspiration. I let go of my problems. Like actually let go of them. I felt the weight lift from me, and my relationships started to improve. Friends started calling me, and I was engaging in real conversation again. I felt connected to myself and those around me.
Due to this experience, I can see myself fasting once a month for a day or two. The benefits are just too big for me. To be able to shift and digest some emotional garbage is such a win.
- People Know Little About The Refugee Crisis
The numbers are there. 65.6 million people forcibly displaced. 22.5 Million refugees. 4.8 Million of those are Syrian alone. That is the population of Sydney. People without homes, shelter, food, water, clothes, health care, education.
These people are just people. It could have been us. Imagine if suddenly war broke out in your home city, people from your community killed by war, homes completely blown apart, and it suddenly became unsafe for your children to go to school. You know that it is unsafe to stay in your own city, so you gather up your family with the little things you can carry and flee, but as you attempt to leave you are shot and killed. (That is what is happening in Iraq as we speak read more from Al Jazeera here). And for those who got out safely, where do they go? Where would you go?
There are so many reasons why doing our bit to relieve the refugee crisis is of high importance. It is putting a high pressure on global stability. These people have nowhere to go and are relying on surrounding countries to take the brunt of it. Most of those countries are ill equipped to handle millions of refugees; there just isn’t the resources. Is there really anywhere? Australia certainty couldn’t handle a sudden influx of 22 million people who have little to nothing. So what can we do? WE CAN donate to the organisations that already exist and are doing their bit to help. We can help provide food, shelter, education and health care, so that these people can start to rebuild their lives, and their countries. We can encourage and support our government to take on more refugees to help support the growing crisis. Currently only 0.8% of refugees have been resettled. More can and should be done.
What I find the most moving, is that of those millions of people, there are so many who have the potential to make significant change in the world if given the chance. These people, like you, they want peace, hope and a fulfilled life. And right now they are just trying to survive.
I have found that once you start giving, even when you have so little, you form habits and behaviours that allow your generosity to grow with you. Giving is one the the greatest things you can do, as you feel yourself open up, love, compassion and purpose flow from you and to another. The world just needs more kindness. And that starts with you. Be kind to yourself, to others and to those you don’t even know. You can change the world. You can change the lives of many.
- The emotional difficulties and struggles for refugees
I struggled only eating the restricted ration pack, whilst also still having the comforts and support that my home and my country offers me. Ironically our heater did break during the second day, so I did have to deal with the cold, and I know that my situation is nothing compared to the sub 10 temperatures that most refugees have to endure during winter. Having lost family, friends, homes, jobs, sense of belonging, purpose – all of these factors are inconceivable to me. The strength of these people to live through such adversity and to show kindness to one another is so beautiful.
I recently was at a seminar in the city and I sat in the park to eat my lunch one of the days. I happened to sit with an Iraqi man, who fled Iraq with his parents and siblings 22 years ago. We ended up in a discussion about the world situation, and it was interesting to hear his anguish and pain even though he has been in Australia for most of the war in Iraq. He told me that most of his family and friends that stayed behind have died, and that it has become far too unsafe to ever visit. He held such high respect for Australia and gratitude towards the save country in which he lives. I was so moved by his story.
- My habits are super ingrained
Even though I was living off pretty much rice, I still managed to get my ass to the gym. I reduced my intensity and the weights I normally lift. It felt good to go, to continue with the normality of my life and to exercise. I am yet to weigh myself to see if I lost much weight. I could take a guess and say I may have lost 2kg – but I fluctuate 2.5kg through a month anyway. It must be extremely hard for those who are going out and working intense labour off such small rations.
I also realised, that we can and do go through times that seem more difficult, and it is in the perseverance through these difficulties that we grow stronger. Knowing that there are people in this world who hold happiness in their heart despite severe adversity, opens up my own world and allows me to experience the most out of life despite my circumstances.
- How grateful I am for all I have.
This week has cemented all that I am grateful for. I am grateful for the country I live in, for it’s safety and security. I am grateful for the walls I call my home, the things that make my house a home, for my warm bed. I am grateful for the extensive variety of food available to me, that I can grow my own produce, that I have food every meal. I am grateful for fruits and vegetables. I am grateful for diversity. I am grateful for the internet that connects and supports us and allows organisations like Act For Peace to have such a reach and be able to make such change. I am grateful for my family and friends, for the support in my life. I am grateful for the education I have had, and continue to have. I am grateful for the endless opportunities available to me. I am grateful for the money in my bank and my own ability to help make change. I am grateful for the laughter that fills my home, for the compassion of others, for the generosity of many. I am grateful for Terry and his continued love and support for all I do and strive to do. I am grateful for the rights I have, for the clothes I wear, for my health and my access to clean water. I am grateful for you, the one reading this. I am grateful that I am able to run my own business and connect with people.
- Thank You to all those who Donated
I would like to use this moment to personally thank each one.
Thank you to Terry, your donation was just the start, I couldn’t have done it without your emotional support and encouragement. I am so thankful for all you do for our family every day.
Thanks to my family; Michelle, Mum, Dad, Abbey. Thanks Mum for checking in on me during the week.
Thanks to my friends; Natty, Abby, Middo, Sarah & Katie, Lauren, Lozzie, Cookie, Mel, Hailey, Ruby Rona, Kath, Moiya, Kyle, Ash, Duds.
Thanks to those who donated anonymously.
You are all amazing and have contributed to making a huge difference in the lives of many by providing them with the simple basic needs of life, we take for granted.
If you would also like to contribute, it’s not too late – click this link to donate now. And thank you in advance. I promise there is a little happy dance going on when it is received. Love and Kindness,
NLP Coach & Founder for The Change In You