Last night I decided to work out the nutritional value of my Live Below The Line challenge. In previous years, I have felt in turn tired, lethargic, bloated, hungry and had carb spikes followed by huge crashes. My blood sugar is a bit bonkers at the best of times – I avoid lactose and too many unprocessed white carbs – and have been tested for diabetes and hypoglycaemia several times since I was a teen, always returning ‘borderline’ with advice to ‘eat regularly and keep an eye on it’. Anyway…

With this in mind – and also curiosity – I punched in the contents of my £5 shop to a website called My Net Diary, to calculate the nutritional value for the week.

The results were surprising:

Across 5 days, and provided I eat everything from the shop, which might be a bit of a challenge for an entire jar of lemon curd (!), my stats are:

Weekly total:
Calories: 9079
Fat: 161g
Carbohydrates: 1614g
Protein: 276g

Daily average:
Calories: 1815
Fat: 32g
Carbohydrates: 322g
Protein: 55g

Recommended for a woman my age, height, build and activity level:
Calories: 1851
Fat: 56g
Carbohydrates: 262g
Protein: 88g

So, I KNOW that I’m not getting the greatest diet while I’m on this challenge, but it’s a lot higher in protein and calories – and a lot closer to my recommended daily amounts – than I thought it would be. I consciously shopped for cheap sources of protein, and ideally would have had a can of kidney beans, baked beans or sardines on top of the eggs, yoghurt, chicken paste, chickpeas and vegetables, but the extra 25p for the frozen mixed veg priced the 21p kidney beans out of my shopping basket. Again, my fiver felt a lot smaller this year than it did this time last year – and the value ranges are exactly where things don’t need to be increasing in price. Stick an extra 25p on top of a £7 macaroni cheese meal (Charles Bigham, I’m looking at you) and I doubt the consumer would notice. Stick a 33% hike on a value bag of mixed frozen vegetables, and the consumer definitely notices.

Anyway, I just thought I’d share in case anyone was curious. It’s a bit high in carbs (!) but I’m fairly happy with the stats as they stand. And before anyone flies off the handle about an imperfect diet, take a fiver out of your wallet, go to the shop, buy enough food for 21 meals across 5 days out of it, punch it all into My Net Diary to calculate the nutrition, and see what you come up with. It’s harder than it looks!!

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Jack Monroe
Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

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