For one whole week all I ate was rice, beans and porridge. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine eating the blandest thing you can think of (something along the lines of sawdust). That was my life for five long, long days.
Well the reason was to raise money for Tearfund via the Mean Bean Challenge – only eating very small portions of beans, rice and porridge per day.
How do you think you would get on if you did the Mean Bean Challenge? To give you an idea of what it’s like, let’s get straight to it – my lowest point of the week.
The Hardest Day
I was really surprised that the last day wasn’t the hardest. I think I was running on adrenaline and too busy imagining my perfect food menu (If you’re wondering: a Full English for breakfast, brownie for snacks, pizza for lunch, Nandos for dinner) to notice how hungry I was.
No, the hardest day was the second to last day – Thursday. A day that will forever be know in my household as “Dark Thursday”. Ask anyone who saw me that day – the struggle was real.
I genuinely had to apologise to people after the challenge was over because I was an absolute shadow. It felt like I was living in The Upside Down.
At that point, I’d had two tiny meals of rice and beans per day. Imagine eating the same two foods over and over again. I was craving a Creme Egg. Each mouthful was harder and harder to swallow.
I’m going to be 100% honest with you; it was tough, but I still want to invite you to try it.
It was probably one of the toughest things I’ve done, but it also taught me so much. Sitting here typing this after my first few meals of normality I feel proud of the achievement but also really pleased that the money I’ve raised will help teach eight families farming skills that will help them produce their own food.
It’s amazing to think that five days of me going hungry has changed lives for the better. What an incredible privilege! You can make a difference too. You can try it any week of the year, but we’re encouraging people to try it out next week, 19th – 23rd March. There’ll be loads of people trying it that week so you’ll get some moral support too!
If you’re under 18 we suggest considering the 48-hour version which is just as tough but a little shorter. You can sign up for either version via the Mean Bean page.
5 tips to get you through
So pleased you’re onboard! Here are five tips that will help. I’ve been there and done it – you can learn from my successes and failures!
Drink lots of water (hot and cold!)
You get hydration from food, so when you start eating less you need more water. Pro tip: when you’re craving tea or coffee, try some boiling water. You can trick your brain into thinking you’re getting that caffeine fix!
Find your own routine
I’ve never been a massive breakfast eater, so I split the 100g of Porridge that most people eat for breakfast into two portions and had one at 11am and one at 3pm, in between meals. This might not work for you but think about how best to time your meals to fit with your habits and routine.
Post daily updates
To make the most of fundraising I posted quite a few times on social media. The thing that works best is photos of your meals, as people can then imagine what you’re going through. The photos look pretty bland!
Measure out food portions
To make things quicker and easier I measured the rice and put it into small reusable containers. You could take this one step further and measure out all your portions of rice and beans for the week so they’re ready to go.
Use a teaspoon
Eat slowly! Savour every mouthful! When hunger strikes it’s easy to wolf down the portions, but one great way to avoid that is using a teaspoon. It’s almost impossible to eat fast when you can only fit one bean and a few bits of rice on the spoon.