Food Stamp Challenge Week 2 – Medical challenges on the Challenge

July 3, 2008 § 5 Comments

David Davenport, President & CEO – I’m halfway down the road on Week 2 of the Challenge. To complicate matters, I am resting at home after yesterday’s minor surgical procedure in Dallas. The doctors weren’t too keen on my Ritz cracker and peanut butter diet, so I was told to eat something substantial and healthy before my procedure. I compromised with a salad, throwing me off budget. My doctors, concerned and cautious, are following me closely during this month-long endeavor.

In my last entry, I mentioned some health issues that made shopping a bit of a challenge. In April 2007, I had a bi-lateral lung transplant. My lungs were failing for a long time, and the transplant was my last chance. Even with an employer health care package, I still spend a great deal on medications, tests and clinic visits.

As I take this Challenge, I’m reminded daily of those struggling to get by on Food Stamps (soon to be renamed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) without heath coverage. Unlike too many Americans without adequate access to health care, I had amazing care in Dallas prior to my procedure. There’s a department of medical experts at my disposal to answer questions and help me with my aftercare. Yesterday’s team of doctors checked and doubled checked on me and made sure I was well cared for. In the state of Texas, where 27 percent of working adults don’t have health insurance, I feel blessed to be able to receive such care.

So, how difficult has it been to eat well enough to ensure that my medications work and maintain my on-going treatment? Well… nearly impossible. I take steroids as part of my medical routine and one of the long-tem side effects is diabetes. I use additional medicines and diet to control my blood sugar. This challenge is increasingly a fine balance between nutritional quality and calorie density. As I shopped last week, I noticed how much more expensive foods that are not filled with processed flours and sugars are. Nutritional foods, such as fruits and vegetables, are not always the most calorie-dense. And when you’re on a $21 a week budget, calories count. A recent study done by the University of Washington further explains this issue and how it’s affecting consumer choice, and ultimately, consumer health.

This 14 minute video was created last year to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Food Stamp Program, and gives a nice history and introduction to the program. Decide for yourself if the intent and purpose of the Food Stamp Program has kept up with contemporary economic conditions.

My research and medical issues leads me to linger in the grocery store even longer, as I poured over the nutrition labels and kept calculation to ensure I stay on budget. It’s not the most exciting way to spend an evening, but critical to supporting the “active healthy lifestyle” needed for food security. After last week’s excitement and motivation for the Challenge, my mood has changed to frustration and, unfortunately, constant hunger.

I look at my pantry, and try to look on the bright side. At least I haven’t lost my taste for low-carb low-sodium crackers and peanut butter. I just have to make it through lunch.

I know I can.

P.S. Thank you, to those who have taken the time to comment online and offline. Your support means a lot to me. Please pass this on.


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§ 5 Responses to Food Stamp Challenge Week 2 – Medical challenges on the Challenge

  • Doug Conrad says:

    David: Nice job on sticking w/ it given the medical challenges. I found it tough enough to do for a week under normal circumstances.


  • A Friend says:

    David, please take care of your health.

    I was wondering if you had consulted a nutritionist for some recommendations regarding the foods you should eat. I know that oatmeal is a good breakfast because it gives you the carbs you need for energy and so forth. And it’s an inexpensive food and easy and quick to prepare. Canned tuna is not that expensive either so you could have that with some whole wheat bread for lunch. It would probably hold you for a few hours, is healthy and would probably fit within your budget . Also, I’d recommend eating smaller, more frequent meals. That’s what dieters do to stave off the hunger, plus they say that it is better overall for your body to eat this way rather than consuming the typical three larger meals.

    You are a brave soul, and I admire your courage.

  • Thank you both for your support and encouragement.

    One of my challenges (beyond the low sugar diet) is managing my sodium intake. Sodium impacts my blood pressure and gives me swollen feet and legs (as does potassium). So I am really limited. Tuna is good but because it typically has greater than 250mg of sodium I need to eat it in moderation. Thanks for the tips. I will give the Oatmeal a shot next week.

    And yes – I have consulted a specialist to make sure I will not do anything to damage my health. As I listed in my post I am blessed to have these resources at my fingertips. Too many in our state do not have basic health coverage.

  • A Friend says:

    David, hope you are feeling better. You’ve really got me going on this food challenge thing…. I googled the words “how to eat on $3 a day” and came up with a boatload of information. I was curious if you had investigated this topic online before you started your challenge.

  • AF –

    I did not do much research online regarding my diet and what to get from the store. The research I did focused almost entirely on my diet as set forth by my doctors and did a walk-through at the store to see if this was feasible. I may follow your lead these last few weeks and see what happens. I will keep you posted.


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