14 Days on a Cash Diet: Week 2

Catalytic recipes for change and hidden insights

Day 8: Panic Attacks and Microbiota

Today I spent $15.45 on water and more Multivitamin’s + Vitamin C supplements. I would say I’m back to a 50% chance of becoming sick.

It’s probably a confusing way to talk about sickness, like I’m paranoid it’s actually going to happen, but it’s got more to do with my theories about how important and delicate those first few day’s of ‘inkling’ are.

When you get the feeling that you’re on the verge of getting sick, commonly referred to as run down, then the best advice I can give you is to slow down. It seems obvious, but pretty much everyone ignores those early signals, and so did I originally.

Let’s talk about Health.

About three years ago I had somewhat of a mental breakdown. I was working in a job I didn’t love, in an industry I no longer believed in, leading to one of the strangest experiences I’ve ever had. A panic attack.

A panic attack is like depression; you don’t understand it until you have it. I had heard of people speak about them before, people very close to me, and from how they described it I just thought it was an increased sense of anxiety.

And then one day, no more unusual than another, I was walking into work and suddenly felt an overwhelming wave of dread wash over me. I felt physically sick. I kept walking into my building and towards the elevators when all I wanted to do was run away.

After arriving on my floor, thankfully with no one waiting, I walked straight into the bathroom. Looking in the mirror, confused eyes stared back out of a pale face, and with trembling hands, I locked myself in a cubical to try and piece together my reality.

Toughen up and pull yourself together’, I said to myself, which was, of course, a terrible approach. There wasn’t anything to fear inside, but that’s exactly where I wasn’t looking.

Constructing a paper thin facade, I hastily walked to my desk, knowing that if someone talked to me, I would probably cry. After struggling through till 11 a.m. I messaged my boss and set up a meeting.

Thankfully I had a boss whose EQ was so high that she doubled as my therapist. She is one of the most beautiful humans I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. I didn’t see her as my boss but more of a friend, and at that time, a friend I needed.

Long story short, I left work that day and didn’t return for three weeks. There is no telling when a panic attack could happen, but they’re real, and they’re unlike anything else. Today, I understand why I had it, but it was only through meditation and listening that I was able to figure it out.

After this experience, I began looking at health differently. It forced me to slow down and listen to what my body tells me because that’s exactly what it was trying to do.

In today’s fast-paced society it’s so easy to get caught up in everything and think that being sick is the worst thing to have happened, but often it’s a blessing in disguise.

Okay, so how does this relate to my Cash Diet?

Well, according to this recent article in The Guardian, Australia’s healthcare spending rose above 10% of GDP for the first time. The figure isn’t so significant on its own, but it was also stated that it was largely due to a slowing of the increase in GDP, which essentially means our economy is slowing down.

Philip Clark, a professor of health economics at the University of Melbourne, said that state and federal governments need to act now to avoid a spending and funding crisis.

Proposing strategies, he said:

“Inevitably this involves either spending less on other things and/or raising taxes.”

Also adding:

“The other option, which is the most politically difficult, is to look of ways of improving the efficiency of the system. In some cases, this would involve tackling waste and reducing unnecessary care.”

Although Clark probably wasn’t referring to the $20 billion of food Australia wastes every year, and which I mentioned in Week 1, this is an area where each individual could have an impact and help indirectly.

So far, this experiment has lent me an increased sense of awareness, improved my conscious decision making, and given me a broader understanding of the effects that my choices have on myself and the world at large.

And, if only to support my earlier related experience, consider the following statistics from Beyond Blue:

  • One in seven young Australians experience a mental health condition
  • The number of deaths by suicide in young Australians is the highest it has been in 10 years
  • Suicide is the biggest killer of young Australians and accounts for the death of more young people than car accidents
  • Approximately one in four people with type 2 diabetes experience depression and one in six with type 2 diabetes experience anxiety

Several studies have shown that there could be a direct link between what you eat and your mental health, or, more specifically, that the health of your gut microbiota determines your mental health.

A recent study suggests that the gut microbiota may play a causal role in the development of features of depression and may provide a tractable target in the treatment and prevention of it.

In my unprofessional opinion, it’s commonsensical, and if it comes with a side effect of no diabetes then happy days.

Total: $42.13–15.45 = $26.68

Day 9: Tea, the natural remedy

After drinking almost 3L of Pure AU water yesterday, I feel there’s now a 30% chance of getting sick. Note that this is not just drinking water, I’m using it for my tea’s as well.

It’s important to note that boiling water increases the concentration of Fluoride/Chlorine, and, considering I drink about 4–5 cups of tea a day, I’m essentially subjecting myself to higher doses of Fluoride.

In this meta-analysis conducted by the Harvard School of Publish Health it was shown that Fluoride does impact on neurological function and can result in a lower IQ.

In a sense, I feel like Randle in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and if I’m not careful, I could end up lobotomized wishing for the Chief to suffocate me with a pillow.

After making my tea today with Pure AU water, I can taste a marked difference in both flavour and fullness of the tea.

Speaking of tea, here’s a recipe that my older brother taught me for when you’re feeling under the weather. A cup of it and you’ll be right as rain in no-time:

Herbal Tea:

  • Put a saucepan of water on to heat
  • Chop half a chilly into fine slices
  • Chop a clove or two of Garlic the same way
  • Chop four (2 inch) slices of Ginger
  • Chop a slice of Lemon
  • Add all above ingredients to hot water and turn down to simmer
  • Add a tbs of Apple Cider Vinegar to the mix and simmer for 40 minutes

Strain into a mug and enjoy.

No money spent today: $26.68

Day 10: Foraging and Failure

I would say I’m probably back to a 50% chance, it’s likely downhill from here, but I’ll see what happens. I’m planning on going out to the farm today to get my precious water; else it will destroy my budget.

Time to tackle protein. Researching diets is a veritable minefield. You can spend hours just reading and watching people talk about it. Most times someone is pushing an agenda, or the ‘right’ way to eat etc., so it can be a little exhausting.

My approach is to go with my instinct and if a food ‘makes sense’, I’ll usually give it a go and incorporate it into my diet on trial basis.

One such food I’ve re-discovered are Peas. I pretty much never eat them, but one cup contains eight times more protein than a cup of Spinach, and they’re also high in Vitamin C.

Things got a little interesting in the afternoon. Although I was determined to make my food last until Sunday, it had other plans and was fast disappearing. As luck would have it, however, there were some frozen vegetables, and blueberry’s in the Freezer.

You know when something’s been in the Freezer for so long it just starts to blend in with the Freezer itself, and you stop looking at it as actual food. Well, this was that, and I probably had 400g of veggies and close to 500g of blueberries just sitting there.

They’ve probably been there close to two months, but, as it was all expiring in 2019, I tore into them like a savage. I felt like a cave man, exploring the unknown knowns of my kitchen.

It was a spot of good fortune really, as blueberries are believed to contain the highest antioxidant capacity of all fruits and vegetables.

Later on, I went out to the supermarket for a re-stock. It was purely out of convenience that I ended up shopping at Woolworth’s again. The main reason for this was that I had run out of the water, which I believe almost cured me.

I spent $46.25, with the biggest expenses being; Water, x2 Mango’s, 200g of Salmon, 500g of Quinoa, 1kg of Peas. So that leaves me at -$19.57

Day 11: Recovery and Slowing Down

Interestingly, today, I feel like I’m down to about a 15% chance of getting sick. I feel like I’m on the way back to 100% health and have either experienced the cold or pretty much avoided the entire thing.

Re-wind the last three day’s, and I’ve been getting out of bed one hour later than usual and finishing up my days at 4 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. Resting is one of the most important parts of my daily routine, and I nap for about 40 minutes every day, starting at 2 p.m.

I recommend people try to incorporate a nap a day into their routine. However, I’m aware this isn’t always possible. But for those looking for an unconventional edge, it’s well documented that many great minds advocated the importance of rest in one’s lifestyle.

Even if you do find yourself run down and forced into rest, I find that it’s a good time to catch up on your podcasts, given the almost zero effort it takes to consume them. On top of this, there is further evidence that working a 5-hour workday is just as productive, if not more so, than working an entire 8-hours.

It’s telling that your body forces you into a restful state to fully recover when feeling less than 100%. But why wait for that state of condition? Why not support your long-term health by adopting a mindset of moderation and consistency, rather than that of extremes.

Over the last week, I’ve cut back on my ‘work’ hours, switched my water supply, maintained a healthy diet and consumed a lot of vitamins and blueberries. I believe the water switch did 70% of the work, but you can see that it’s a total lifestyle change, and not a quick fix, like taking antibiotics.

I spent no money today, and am still at the -$19.57 mark.

Day 12: Method to the Madness

Today I spent $10.54 on fruit and dark chocolate. I’m down to about a 10% chance of getting sick, with the percentage itself feeling almost irrelevant. The Cash Diet has, in my opinion, improved my physical and mental health.

I’ve actually enjoyed a boon these past two days, as my brother ventured off on a camping trip and left me with a small supply of food. Since I have now reached the resourcefulness level of a bin chicken, I was quick to scavenge what I could.

On a side note, big ups to the bin chicken for a good effort in Australia’s Bird of the Year … don’t let the loss get to you. As an Essendon supporter, I have less than savoury opinions on the Magpie.

I recently wrote another ‘experiment based’ article on the smartphone, which set the tone for this article. Throughout that experiment my perspective on what the smartphone actually was changed to such a degree that I began interacting with it differently.

This new experiment has also changed my perspective, but, rather than a smartphone, the tool this time is money. The Cash Diet has increased, or rather, expanded, the meaning of money.

In the smartphone article I discussed the idea of the Attention Integrator:

An Attention Integrator can be viewed as any information handling method or device or regularity which services the function of focusing or structuring our thoughts and actions.

Applying this idea to money, you can begin to see how and why the way in which we use money is important. Money can be seen to transmute information; the way in which we interpret or focus on that information is determined by the method with which we use to handle it.

By using cash over the last two weeks, I have placed more emphasis on the method (money), which has impacted my focus and structured the way I think about it which ultimately affects the way I spend it.

An example of my changed perspective can be summed up in one word, deliberation. The understanding of this perspective is two-fold.

First, if you think about that word literally, you get de-liberation, which is expressed by the spending limit I’ve placed on myself. The act of doing so has created an effect to the opposite of its meaning, as I suspect liberation follows suppression — ceteris paribus the laws of nature.

Secondly, the deliberate engagement in the activity of spending forces you to slow down and think. Something which is almost frowned upon in today’s society. I have increased the gravity of my spending decisions by applying weight to the method of spending. The weight is applied by increasing the conscious aspect of the method, which, in this case, is using cash over credit.

What’s been interesting to note is the slight change in mentality regarding my spending after I failed to achieve my goal. It was only slight, but enough to notice and before I knew it my brain was saying, ‘to hell with it, let’s buy all the snacks!’

Total: -19.57-$10.54 = -$30.11

Day 13: Big Picture Thinking, Differently

One of the major underpinnings of the failure to reach my goal in this experiment has come down to my lack of planning and knowledge about food. Knowledge is power in most cases, but here, more appropriately, knowledge is health.

In a recent Ted Talk, Kimbal Musk elaborated on his plans for the future of organic food, and how he thinks that real food is the opportunity of our generation, saying:

“Food is the new Internet”

Something about that struck me, and although not originally intended, I decided to take it literally and figure out what a ‘Food Internet’ might look like.

The Internet is defined as a global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities, consisting of interconnected networks using standardized communication protocols.

Let’s re-frame that as follows:

  • the global network is our soil, which evidently provides a variety of information
  • it communicates through the plants which we grow in it; if the plants are weak, then the soil needs repairing
  • the interconnected networks are the various farmlands which grow the food for the world and, whose farmers, follow standardised methods of farming

If you begin to think about food this way it changes everything. When I first started this experiment, one of the first things that came to mind was the vegetable garden that we had when growing up on the farm.

The interesting thing is, I wasn’t thinking about the vegetables themselves, but rather the soil in which they were planted. ‘Hmm, the healthier the soil, the higher the nutritional content in plants, the less money I would need to spend on food’, I thought.

In Week 1, I referred to a quote from Einstein, which prompted the above lateral thinking.

Here it is again:

“You can’t solve your problems by using the same thinking that got you into those problems in the first place.”

Trying to eat as healthy as you can, while also saving money, is a difficult thing to do and a problem I tried to solve by doing the exact opposite of what Einstein advised.

I sought to make food last longer by buying in bulk and from places which were cheaper, but these solutions produce arbitrary results and mask the underlying problem.

The real solution was in the soil. I was trying to save time, but I wasn’t willing to invest it. Only by learning how to cook, or cultivating the mental soil, can I expect a significant return on both my Time and Money.

It probably seems quite obvious now, and perhaps I knew deep down that this was required all along, but instead, looked for a quick fix. Originally I thought the Cash Diet would help me save money by controlling my spending, and to a degree, it worked.

What I didn’t realise, was how much of an impact my lack of food knowledge also had on my ability to save. If the Cash Diet has taught me anything, it’s that certain things aren’t obvious until you experience them. It’s almost the same as understanding that your mentality will be different in the future but you can’t feel that difference now.

No spending today, running balance is still -$30.11

Day 14: Cooking up Conclusions

The week has been a bit of a mess. For a start, the goal of this experiment was to develop a healthy diet while abiding by a strict spending limit and I would say I’ve both failed and succeeded.

First and foremost I started getting sick while conducting the experiment, which doesn’t reflect well on the overall outcome, though, to date I haven’t completely come down with something, as compared with the historical nature of my common colds.

Spending so much time focusing on the health aspect of this experiment as opposed to the ‘cash’ side of things could be perceived as unnecessary. However, it was a big part of the original goal, and its focus has resulted in a higher exchange of value for me, and I hope for you too.

When reading my work, it’s important to note that it’s subjective and often takes the form of related experience. Personally, I hate how we measure things through ‘theoretical models’ that are completely alien to how society and the world is.

My work is based on my own experiences and expressed in terms of how I see the world. It is separate from how you may interpret it, but I seek to provide ‘real world’ insights into what could be described as common experience. The fact that I started to get sick probably made the case study closer to real life as it’s a common real-world experience.

To avoid confusion, I’ll create a reference and define what I consider the usual symptoms of a common cold; a sore throat, blocked nose, lethargic, loss of smell, loss of taste, fever etc.

What I experienced was none of the above other than a slightly blocked nose, dry throat and stuffiness … which, interestingly, was felt most after eating chicken. I bought and ate a chicken in Week 1, and then my brother left me a chicken which I also ate. Both times I felt worse than compared to eating a more Vegetarian/Pescetarian alternative.

Although there are variables as to whether you feel better or worse after any given meal, I was monitoring myself and how I was feeling pretty closely and now feel more confident in switching to 100% Pescetarian.

In summary, the experiment has given me invaluable insights into yet another Attention Integrator within my environment. The lesson I’ve learned is that saving money while maintaining a healthy diet requires time and investment, or, alternatively, increasing your knowledge and understanding of food/nutrition, while improving your cooking skills, will lead towards a saving of time and money.

Zero spending today, a running balance of -$30.11, and a grand total spend of $140.11

TLDR: Learn to cook

Perhaps the greatest gift that we can give to each other is a greater understanding of ourselves.

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