Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Day in the Life: Breakfast

For as long as I've been in the poverty well, I've had oatmeal for breakfast.

You see, I've always known about the benefits of good nutrition - hence oatmeal and not, say, a donut - and the importance of having breakfast. Anyone of my acquaintance in like circumstances knows this; which I hope dispels another myth about people in poverty.

Given the affordability issue, oatmeal has been the best choice for me, if bought in large 3kg bags, not in boxes of ten or 12 single-serving instant and/or flavoured packs.

I rarely buy anything that isn't on sale, oatmeal no exception. The most I've paid for the 3kg bag of oatmeal is $5.99. If I can make the bag last for ten months, which I do (despite the shelf life being nine months after date of manufacture), my breakfasts cost me $0.60 per month or two cents per day. I make the bag last by using 1/10 cup (10 grams) of oats per serving, not 1/3 cup (40 grams) as recommended. I'm 59 years old, below average height and have a small skeletal frame; I don't need as much as someone larger or younger. Granted, I should probably up the amount, but a life at this level is all about choices among limited options.

So now I face a dilemma typical for someone living in the poverty well. I've been watching sale flyers for months as my oatmeal supply has been dwindling. No sales on oatmeal. The current price of the 3kg bag of oatmeal locally is $6.99. (Sometimes it's as much as $7.99.) I won't pay $1.00 to 2.00 more for it; that money could go to something else, like lettuce or a few apples.

This morning was my first day without oatmeal. (I had a Ryvita cracker instead.) Not only did I miss that warm bowl of stick-to-the-ribs goo, but I missed the ritual of making and eating it. Which highlights a key point: Routine or small rituals can soothe a life when everything else underfoot is unstable.

ETA: Given I've had to cut back my food intake over the past year, I've been losing weight. Haven't been concerned, since I'd gained 20 pounds over nine months from taking the wrong dose of thyroid medication three years ago. Still, it may be time to start getting concerned. Not only do I now fit into my old jeans, which I wore in my dance-teaching and mail-delivering days, but there's this study, which suggests "extra pounds" may be beneficial to seniors.

Then again, the study also says that, regardless of weight, seniors who lead a sedentary lifestyle are more subject to early death. But if you live in the poverty well, you must walk or, if you're fortunate, ride a bicycle everywhere; hence, a sedentary lifestyle is just about impossible for the still able-bodied poor.


lipinskaj said...

hope someone gave you the ryvita. ryvita is crazy expensive. something like $3.49 for 20 crackers at my local grocery store in ottawa. i am employed and i now think twice about buying it. one can get two loaves of day old whole grain bread for that amount.

Chrystal Ocean said...

You're right; Ryvita is pricey. Acquired it as a gift over the winter holidays, together with some Marmite which I hadn't had in years. (Yum!)

You sure there's only 20 crackers to a box? I counted 24.