Claire McCollum loves cooking, so how did she cope when there was no food on the table for 24 hours?
This Thursday thousands embark on a 24-hour fast for Concern. Ahead of that, we challenged broadcaster Claire McCollum to take part
I love food. It's the first thing I think about when I wake up. I've always had a fairly fast metabolism and need to eat little and often. So I've never been keen on diets. My thinking is that if I diet then I will focus more on what I'm not supposed to eat and want it even more! I try to eat the right things most of the time, but I am definitely a big fan of the odd treat, too!
Since having my children, mealtimes have become even more important. I want to know they are getting all the nutrition they need and I'm keen for them to try new things.
As a result, I've discovered a real passion for cooking. I watch loads of foodie programmes on TV and road-test new recipes on the family all the time. Top of the list at the moment is Lorraine Pascal's fast and fresh roast lamb. I'm not kidding -- it's so easy to make and totally delicious! I also really hate throwing food out, so I try to shop wisely and make the most of leftovers. Doing the Concern Fast has underlined for me how lucky we really are.
My two children enjoy three square meals a day. But sadly millions of children in this world face starvation -- one out of every six of them is malnourished.
So, when the opportunity came up for me to do my bit and take part in the Concern Fast, it was a no brainer. Giving up food for just 24 hours is such a small gesture when you compare it to what others face in life. But every little does help, and I am really pleased to be doing my bit. Here's my fast diary ...
My 24-hour diary of fast for Concern
As I've mentioned, I love food, and for my last meal before fasting I wanted something substantial to see me through the night. Catering for my son Samuel (6) and daughter Rosa (4), I had to keep it kiddie friendly. So a large plate of spuds, breaded fish and broccoli hit the spot all round. And as the clock struck six I was just swallowing my last bite of post-dinner chocolate digestive. Feeling full and content, I got the kids ready for bed, thinking, I can do this no problem!
Even when my husband, Ally, came home an hour later, I still managed to feed him without salivating too much. His “this is delicious” comments are normally very welcome, but tonight it served as a reminder that I was not allowed any! And as my family and friends know, I like to eat little and often. So tomorrow will be the big test...
The alarm goes off and, like clockwork, my first thought is for breakfast. Doh! I can't have any this morning. But I still have to prepare breakfast for my two little darlings, so there is no escape from the kitchen. Again, I remind myself that this is only for 24 hours, and the back of it is broken already. Only 10 hours to go.
Once the kids are packed off to school and nursery, I busy myself with work emails that I've been putting off for forever. I'll do anything to pass the time and keep out of the kitchen! But by 10 o'clock, tea time is all I can think of. So I head for the freezer and dig out some spaghetti bolognese — something to focus on and aim for with eight hours still to go.
So far, I'm doing OK. Usually by this time my tummy is shouting the odds, and the kettle is on for my mid-morning snack — but not today. It’s nearly time to pick up Rosa from nursery though, so no time to dwell on it.
Home from nursery with Rosa, and she's starving. A hard morning at the play-dough table and stickle brick zone, and she's ready for her lunch. Is it bad that I allow her to eat it in front of Peppa Pig?
Back to tidying the house (I'll do anything to avoid thinking about food), and I discover a two for one voucher for our local kids soft-play centre. Result! They get to spend the afternoon running around letting off steam, and I get to sit and sip my water and conserve the little energy I have left. Samuel is delighted when I pick him up at 2 o'clock and tell him we're off to soft-play. Not the usual mid-week treat, but today is an exception!
Our outing takes up a good chunk of the afternoon, and I know I'm getting ever closer to that steaming bowl of spaghetti. We arrive home, and with just an hour and a half to go I can almost taste the finish line. The kids are pooped from their soft-play exertions, so I don't have too much entertaining to do. At 5pm it's time to start preparing for tea. OK, so it's a little early, but I can stretch this out. I just need to do something, anything at this stage. Ally calls and says he might be home a bit after 6pm. “No problem darling, but I'm sure you won't mind if the kids and I just go ahead and eat?!”
At last I hear the pips on the radio signalling the 6 o'clock news. Happy days. Time to serve up and tuck in. Never has spaghetti bolognese tasted so good! But I don't rush it. I’m reminding myself how lucky my family and I are. I knew this moment would come, but nearly 100m children in the developing world don't know when or where their next meal will come from. All I had to endure was 24 hours without food. Yes, I felt a little dizzy, and my stomach was constantly rumbling, but I did not have to worry about whether there would be food on the plate. Would I fast again? Of course. Anything we can do to raise the profile of the plight of these children. We can all do our bit.
Thank you for taking the time to share my Concern Fast experience. Good luck with yours!
You can join the Concern Fast this Thursday — and you can also choose to do it in aid of Typhoon Haiyan. For more information or to register, call 0800 032 4001 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
TIPS TO EASE THE HUNGER PANGS
* Start fasting after your evening meal.
* Drink plenty of liquids to stay hydrated (right).
* Suck sweets to keep your energy levels up.
* Fast for a maximum of 24 hours.
* Fasting is NOT recommended for anyone who is diabetic, pregnant or breast-feeding, or anyone with |kidney or liver problems, an eating disorder, asthma or tuberculosis.
* If in doubt, ask your doctor.
* If you feel lightheaded, achy or ill, just eat something. Your health comes first.
HOW YOUR MONEY CAN HELP
* £47 Could buy a month’s supply of high energy therapeutic food for a malnourished child in Niger.
* £60 Could provide a farmer with a goat in South Sudan.
* £166 Could purchase seeds for a family, so they can grow crops and move towards a better future.
* This year, £3.1 million children will die from the effects of malnutrition. There are many reasons for the terrible food shortages sweeping across the world — droughts, failed harvests and soaring food prices to name just a few — but always the same tragic outcome. The youngest and weakest suffer first — children. A child dies from malnutrition every 10 seconds. For more information, telephone: 080 0032 4001