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Basic Needs Challenge - Day 2

FOOD

I woke up this morning expecting to be hungry, yet I wasn’t. It didn’t make any sense: how could I not be famished, having only consumed 600 calories the day before? I checked in with friends and family who are doing this challenge with us and they said the same thing. They feel terrible, but not hungry.

It got me thinking about the role that rice plays in our diet here versus developing countries. For my family, rice is a side dish that usually rounds out a meal packed with protein and vegetables.

More often than not for us, rice is an afterthought.

In our society we’re so focused on nutritious and healthy choices – we spend our days trying to round out our diets with green leafy vegetables and choosing organic, grass-fed, extra-lean protein. We have options. We get to prioritize our health.

In other countries, rice is a strategic means to survival. It’s a dense carbohydrate that is filling and stays in the system longer, keeping hunger at bay. It allows a person to function while providing minimal nutrition. It keeps people alive at the expense of their health.

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I recalled my many visits to Cameroon, where I’ve been working with various orphanages for the past 20 years. I’ve grown particularly close to a group of children who I continue to support although they’re now grown. When we spend time together, I notice they skip the vegetables and head straight to the grains. I’m always encouraging them (as I do my children at home) to make healthier choices. They smile and nod, then reach for more rice. Now I understand why: they’ve been conditioned their entire lives to eat in anticipation of hunger.

Growing up without enough to eat forces a person to think about things very differently.

Having food choices is a privilege. Today I watched people around me snacking between meals, consuming Starbucks treats (a white chocolate mocha is 628 calories!) and indulging in desserts after a nutritious lunch…and I couldn’t help but wonder if any of us will ever really know how lucky we are?