So, to keep carrying on about this whole September business, you know, not eating out, I want to talk about why it was less difficult than I expected. Sure, it took more meal planning than I might normally do and it also took some creativity when it came to getting together with some friends. Instead of meeting someone for breakfast, I invited her to join me in my apartment, which ended up being a lot more fun anyway! I was actually surprised at how very easy it was for me to avoid (for the most part) the restaurant industry. There were times when my parents fed me (thanks Mom!) or I went to a friend's house for dinner. One day a co-worker and I who normally eat lunch out now and then decided to each pack a different dish for lunch and then we shared them.
Other than the two times I mentioned I ate out (1 breakfast, 1 dinner), I managed to eat some other way, and most of the time I did not even think about it as a sacrifice! I found other ways to be social, and I found myself at the grocery store more often. Both good things! And every now and then, I would think to myself, "Gee, I might like to slack off tonight and eat at that restaurant or that fast food restaurant." But knowing I couldn't, I didn't dwell on those thoughts for long.
I was healthier in terms of time, energy, and nutrition. Much like this whole year I've saved time by not spending it in the mall or other stores, I saved time by not eating out either - restaurants can be time consuming! As a student and full-time employee, I needed every minute of the time that was spared. Even though it takes more energy to cook for yourself, I saved energy by not being as social - after a long and challenging summer I took a step back and took a breath. Even social butterflies can get tired flying around to all those beautiful flowers we call friends. And I'm not one to count calories much and I hardly ever step on a scale (if I get up the nerve, I might blog about all the poverty that entails some day!), but I do try to eat healthy, just because I enjoy that type of food. Not eating out and doing more grocery shopping and cooking for myself made more room for that!
The good news is that after the month of not eating out, I did not immediately run out to the nearest restaurant and order the most appetizing thing on the menu. When some co-workers invited me to lunch a few days after the experiment "ended," It was very surreal. I found myself thinking: "O yeah, I'm free to go out now. September is over. I've 'done my time'." But I almost didn't want it to end. There is such a freedom in detachment!
I'm sure the difficulty of such an undertaking would increase with the duration, but truthfully, maybe this is what we should have been doing all year! There were never really any guidelines for our poverty as it relates to food, and as I sit here typing this, I'm a little dumbfounded as to why not. One of the most basic human needs and one thing that can really set apart the truly impoverished from the rest of the population is access to edible and nutritionally-adequate food. So why hasn't this been incorporated into our experiment?
Truly, I have learned a lot - that I do not doubt. But as the year has gone on, I have realized more and more, that we are barely skimming the surface. +