Americans seem to have a love/hate relationship with food. On one hand, we appear unable to gather without food. On the other hand, eavesdrop on a group of 10 or 20 women long enough and you’re bound to catch wind of someone’s issues with weight or diet. We look to food for entertainment, comfort, and pleasure. We oftentimes seek convenience before nourishment.
A significant portion of most families’ monthly budget go to food. But, are we spending more than we need? And are we spending our money on quality or ease? These are uncomfortable questions, especially when the lines between “needing to eat” and “wanting to eat” are so easily smudged.
I should first admit, I read 7 as a passive observer. As much as I’m inclined to crazy projects and self-imposed plans, I decided to read 7 and take in the wisdom without feeling compelled to mimic the actions. And, because I read for the enjoyment of the words, the words are what stuck out to me. Instead of feeling solidarity in a loathing of dry chicken breast, I felt joy in the prose. I loved that Jen repeatedly talked about not making 7 into law. I read her words and ran with the heart of her ideas.
This stuck out to me. This challenged me. This started a chain reaction in my life. This chain of letters, these lines and words, these are what have started a months long look at what it means to have and to have not.
I thought about these seven healthy foods jam-packed with nutrition, fueling my body. My energy has doubled and I feel really good. I have the luxury of eating healthy, organic food, an extravagance in most of the world…I realized my slightly reduced life is still extraordinary in every way. There is no end to my advantages. For whatever reason I was born into privilege; I’ve never known hunger, poverty, or despair.
What started out as a discussion about a fast from food, quickly turned from a millennia-old practice into a modern day challenge. How can I celebrate being in such excess when others have so little? How is it possible to continue to live in such a way, knowing full well how little others have. These thoughts bled slowly out of the kitchen and into all my waking (and non-mealtime) moments.
My heart turned toward living in a way that allows my life to have a beautiful cadence. One where the “haves” and the “have nots” dine together and are celebrated equally. My desire turned to parenting my boys in a way that would illustrate to them that the pizza delivery on a Friday night is an absolutely extraordinary blessing in the scope of the world’s population.
There was an article recently that got my heart aching and my mind racing. Did you know that 40% of the food in America goes wasted, yet 1 in 6 American’s haven’t enough to eat? Clearly, this is not a supply issue. The problem isn’t that we have too many people to feed, or that we cannot grow enough food to feed the hungry. The problem is, the “haves” are taking more than we need without thought.
I started to wonder, if I was more careful with my grocery planning and budget, could I give that money to feed local people who are hungry? Our church has a food pantry, and it is running terribly dry. Even in our affluent county, there is a high need for food. So, recently, I’ve decided to carefully plan our meals and buy only what we need. With the newly found room in our grocery budget, I’m buying items on the “most needed” list for our food pantry. A 44 cent box of cornbread mix isn’t much to me, but it’s a lot to a momma who is struggling to feed her babies.
By Hayley at Tiny Twig
Did Jen inspire you to stick to 7 foods for a month? Did this chapter make you step back and reflect on what you’re serving on your dinner table each night? If Month One of 7 made an impact on you, we want to hear about it! Link up your posts below or share in the comments!
Leave a Comment
Kelley Hansen says
August 29th was my DAY ONE of my 7 journey and I’m pumped, at least in the present moment! Right now, I have the tenacity of a marathon runner lined up on a starting line – all bouncy, stretching, and spitting out the side of my mouth. I’m ready for the sound of the gunshot to begin the race and focused on the course set before me.
However, this is where my “cautious self” generally tries to wiggle in, tapping me on the shoulder and clearing her throat before she whispers some lame, but usually wise, thing. “Pace yourself”, she tells me, which I’m choosing to ignore. In true Kelley form I plan to bolt into this race like a shot out of a cannon, even if I’m wholly aware that thirty days of such extremism WILL require me to harness some of my enthusiasm for later.
The first time I caught wind of 7 I thought, “nah, not for me, not now”. I didn’t think I had the chutzpah to focus on changing my lifestyle in such extreme ways in light of the year I’ve just had. It has been a battle, to put it mildly, which, as irony dictates, is exactly why I should be heeding the book’s concepts.
Nearly twelve months ago my daughter, who struggles with Borderline Personailty Disorder, tried to take her life twice within a month’s time. She had become weary and hopeless over the fact that, despite two years of treatment by many “professionals”, she still suffered immensely. Thankfully, God spared her life, yet today she is living in her third (in the last 11 mos.) residential treatment home, continuing to fight to get well. The home where she currently resides is a six-month intensive Christian program for women, and is 100% free-of-charge. It is a miracle and feels like our last hope.
If the struggles with our daughter weren’t enough, our son, clearly affected by his sister’s mental illness, began to self-medicate with marijuana. And unlike many of his peers, once he began to use this drug, he couldn’t just take it or leave it. He became addicted, and his use quickly escalated to the point where he began dealing to support his daily consumption. Subsequently, he was expelled. At which point my husband and I sent him to a residential chemical-dependency treatment center where he lived for four months. Today, he is home and doing well, staying sober, and attending school online, but he has abandoned his faith completely.
My family needs MORE room for the POWER of God! And for the first time in a LONG time, I feel hopeful. Hopeful that perhaps this 7 journey, my personal act of worship, will create the uncluttered room needed for God to invade my home and heal my family.
I’m praying, Lord, let it be so.
Courtney Laib says
Kelley, thanks for sharing your story. I love your last sentence… praying that God will heal your family as well.
Wow! Kelley, my heart is breaking for you. Yet, you express such hope and fearlessness. What a testimony that is to me. I will be praying for you, your husband, son and daughter as you all journey through this very difficult time. All His blessings be upon you. jana
Courtney Laib says
This month really impacted me. I think it challenged me more in the area of how much food I share rather than how much food I do or don’t eat. I just can’t see the hungry the same anymore. I can no longer just walk past the homeless man on the corner without my heart strings being pulled on. The truth that I have so much while so many others have so little just doesn’t sit well. I wrote about an experience I had a couple of months ago and I linked it above. It’s post #2 and it’s called ‘The Man on the Corner”.
Excited to reading others thoughts on this tough month.
Also, I will be starting the ‘7’ food challange tomorrow. Pray for me.
Kelley Hansen says
Thank you for your words of encouragement, Courtney!! I will be praying for you! Are you on FB? I started a 7 group there if you’d like to join!
Courtney Laib says
Kelley, yes I am on FB. Can you send me an invite to the group?
Courtney Laib says
Oh, and loved your post Hayley.
“The problem isn’t that we have too many people to feed, or that we cannot grow enough food to feed the hungry. The problem is, the “haves” are taking more than we need without thought.”
Truth. And I am so guilty of this. Thanks for the challenge to take what we need and give the rest to others.
Kelley Hansen says
Loved your thoughts too, Hayley!
I think your effort to teach your children to be mindful of what they are privileged to have will reap long-term blessings! Even more so, your example of giving to the “have nots”, right under your children’s little noses, will teach them more than words ever could. 🙂
I love this! I think we’re at a time when we can pretty much have whatever we want, whenever we want. And that is scary.
And this is so true with food. We can buy whatever we want, whether it’s fast food, something frozen, or something homemade. I think it’s a great idea to think of what you really need, and with the money you save on the stuff you didn’t buy to donate it to someone else who actually needs it.
Jan B says
Great post, Hayley. And I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s comments and posts as well. So much to think about! I PRAY I don’t just THINK about it, but put into action what God is laying on my heart.
I want to not just be aware of the hunger problem in our country – and world – but to, somehow, in whatever way I possibly can, make a difference. I know God will bring opportunities to do just that as I pray and open myself up to the possibilities. And this chapter of 7 – and all of “your” input – is helping to lead me that way.
For the area of food, I do feel like God is speaking to me on a more personal level concerning how I misuse food emotionally and how it affects my body, indeed, my body temple. As I posted in the comments from Wednesday, I’m committing to cutting out added sugar (i.e. sweetened soy creamer in my coffee, so I’m switching to green tea), sweets, desserts, junk food and fast food. For a week. I KNOW I will be having some up front and personal communication with God about this if I choose to ride it out and not give in. I know the cravings will be strong. Numbing my emotions with this kind of “food” has been an issue that has had many negative consequences in my life for years.
It’s not that I don’t like healthy food, either. I used to run a natural food co-op and, back in the day, when I had little ones at home (and lots more energy) I used to make (yummy, the way) whole wheat bread, yogurt and, well, most everything from scratch. And, though I’m not loving SO much kitchen time anymore, we’ve always strived to eat lean protiens, whole grains and fresh fruits and veggies as a mainstay. And, not so much because I’m so organized, but more because I’m clueless without a plan, the hubs and I have been sitting down for years once a week to plan our menu and create a grocery list. I’m definitely a “perimeter” shopper, avoiding processed and convenience foods. I buy organically within reason and try to shop fresh and local as much as possible. (Why is it so dang expensive to eat healthy! Not fair!)
Yet, I still struggle in this one area and find ways to allow the sweets and junk to keep a foothold in my otherwise healthy eating plan. And I’m paying for it physically. (Not to mention monetarily.)
A side note: I got groceries yesterday and, knowing I’m quitting sweets, etc. on Saturday, didn’t I come home with a lovely selection in which to gorge on yesterday and today? I’m SO bad about this that I ATE THEM ALL LAST NIGHT and couldn’t even save any for today. See? Geesh!
So, yeah, 7 has caused me to look upward and inward at my food choices and to seek how God would want me to make changes in my own life at this time. I look forward to what God will show me over the next few weeks – about myself AND Himself – and to how He will work in my life as I pray, repent and surrender these areas to Him.
I’m continuing to pray for y’all, too. 🙂
Heather Conrad says
I’m a bit late to the party, perhaps because I kept telling God no, no, no. Luckily, he’s patient and persistent. Just three weeks ago, my husband lost his job. I’m not employed. And here we are, trusting in His promises like never before. He has opened our eyes to many provisions thus far, and I know he will continue to do so. We just had needed to shift our mindset around on just a few things.
Ironically, (or sovereignly) however you look at it, God took me on a mission trip to Honduras. He showed me just how big of a God he really is. My heart needed it, and is more open to receive I believe.
On that note, I’ve prayed about this fasting concept in relation to food. I am quite the opposite of a foodie. I really dislike spending tie in the kitchen. The only reason I do it is because my family actually requires thee + meals everyday. On that note. I thought about what “I” could do, and then I thought further, and I believe the Conrad family is going to give this a-go.
For the next four weeks, we will not eat out, nor order carry-out.
It’ll be an adventure. Perhaps time together creating won’t be so bad. I know money saved will be a tremendous joy. We’ll use what we have, and create a grocery list that we will adhere to (fingers and toes crossed).
I love the quote, “…when mission transitions from the academic soil of the mind into the sacrificial work of someone’s hands, I am utterly affected.”
Here we are Jesus, more of you and less of us.
Courtney Laib says
I’m with you Heather. I am not much of a “foodie” and I hate cooking. I am starting the month one of ‘7’ food experiment tomorrow but I love what you are doing too. I hope you learn some great things from your “ordering out fast”. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Beth Williams says
“Did you know that 40% of the food in America goes wasted, yet 1 in 6 American’s haven’t enough to eat?” I saw a show on Food Network about this very subject. Chefs went around to garbage dumps, and some vendors. The amazing thing was that a lot of what we “throw away” is slightly bruised, semi imperfect, but still usable. Both the men and women teams were able to create good complete dinners out of all this food.
Why can’t restaurants, vendors, farmers give some of this “impefect food” to food shelters & help feed some of the poor people in our country?
I try to assist local food banks or church food pantries with some extra food–I want to be Jesus to this coutnry & show them a little love!
Marie Wilson says
“Why can’t restaurants, vendors, farmers give some of this ‘imperfect food’ to food shelters & help feed some of the poor people in our country?”
Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure this has to do with America’s obsession with lawsuits, health codes, and liability issues. I know there are some stores that will donate imperfect foods to food pantries, but the food pantry workers have to drive their own truck to go pick it all up. I’ve no doubt that liability documents were signed between the two parties to prevent either party from getting sued. It would be so much easier to care for the needy in this country if there weren’t such an insane amount of red tape preventing our hearts from being legally able to move.
hayley @ the tiny twig says
Yes. I agree, Marie. My brother used to work in the Target produce section and he said they throw out about half of the produce every night–simply for very small blemishes. It won’t sell and makes the rest of the produce look questionable, so they get rid of it. BUT, they aren’t even allowed to take it home themselves let alone give it to anyone else. It’s sad and it’s a mismanagement of our resources, I think. But, it does make sense from a business/legal standpoint…as unfortunate as that is.
We live in an area where those 1 in 6 make up a high percent of the population. (I’d almost say it’s flipped, here- over 70% in this area live below or at poverty line levels.) Ever since the economy crashed in 2008, our local food banks have not been able to keep their shelves stocked at all, even with help from Second Harvest and others. The demand far outstrips the supply. I love this idea. I haven’t been able to dig into Jen’s book yet (I know, I know! All of my girlfriends want to smack me), but your approach, Hayley, is such a cool, good workable idea that I think I might gently challenge myself and my friends to try something similar.
Marinalva Sickler says
I organized my budget and every month I blew it with groceries and fast food. Right now, the 7 became an important tool. I’m reviewing the pantry cabinet and cupboards and fridge, out will go everything unnecessary. Preparing home food with less ingredients and closer to healthy style like no-frying dishes and raw vegetables, Making the house lighter with 7 things out from shelves and closets. As a recent widow and caring for a grandson, I must rearrange the ways things are done in the house. No eating out for fifteen days and stopping the critical approach. “Clinging to criticism has not made me happier; it just made me cynical.”
Melissa Y says
I loved this chapter, it really was like a light bulb going off for me. I am struggling some with my weigt (mostly depression related due to my husband’s multiple affairs). I am now ready to dig out of that hole (God has spoken and I am finally listening). I am not sure I am going to do 7 foods but I am going to do a much better job of taking care of my “temple”.
Jan B says
Watched “FOODmatters” on Netflix tonight. Wow – excellent and really added fuel to my fire! Or my fast! Which, by the way, at the end of day one, God and me? We’ve got it goin’ on! Yay! Off to bed to dream about vitamin C and raw food…
Courtney Laib says
Good for you Jan! I’m approaching the end of day 2 on my ‘7’ food fast and boy is this hard. Or maybe I’m just a wimp. Keep going strong girl!! 🙂
wow I can’t wait for my copy of the book to arrive… I’m already looking at food in a different light… just reading the observation mentioned in this post brings so many things into focus… so many changes I need to make… I am excited…
Jennifer N. says
Not ready to start my own food fast yet, but we’re going through unemployment right now, and are on a super tight budget, so nothing extra is being spent anywhere. I’m trying to remember to look at this challenge in a different light – giving what’s left of my little bit, to allow room for my Savior to work in my life. I treasure the food I have, and know whatever I have, it will be enough if I remember to go through this journey with Christ. My fast may only be offering up my wants and my gratitude at this time.
Courtney Laib says
Great perspective Jennifer.
This was a great chapter for me. While we live on a tight budget, we have the biggest part of the budget for food. I’ve started looking at what we don’t eat differently, the left overs. I’d like to say we don’t waste, but when it comes down to it, we do. How can we teach the next generation?
I have to be honest. I was very nervous picking up the book and starting right away with the chapter on Food. Food for me has been a struggle over the past 15 years. I am in recovery from an Eating Disorder, and I wasn’t completely sure how I was going to react to this chapter. Well…it was awesome. I know that for me it is not a healthy choice to try and live out this chapter. Although, it reminded me that I wouldn’t be where I am today, in recovery, without finding my “missing piece” my relationship with God. Through the years I listed to the voice e in my head and not the voice of God. Once I opened up my heart to him things started to change for me. I was able to listen to his voice and it got louder and louder and eventually overtook the other ones. Its hard to express this to others, but I hope that all of you ladies can understand. God is so powerful. I wouldn’t be here today without him! It may have been some of the hardest times, especially the last two years, but I am so grateful that he has chosen me, helped me through recovery, and now allows me to help others. I hope that you can have the same expereince with something temporary such as 7 for the month…it truly is amazing when you make that connection:-)
hayley @ the tiny twig says
That’s AMAZING! I know, I was weird about the book starting off with food, too. I initially had that reaction in this post–but it got too wordy, so I edited that part out. But yes, I know what you mean. 🙂
The 7 Project | Taste How Good God Is says
[…] I wondered what improvements I could make here, I read this post by my friend Hayley on buying extra for a food pantry each month and found it completely inspiring. Another small […]
Kayla Aimee says
Hayley I loved this post AND this idea. I struggled the most with this chapter, actually, and here is a hands on way that my heart can do something 🙂
hayley @ the tiny twig says
love that–and i think you’re fabulous! xo.
Jen Hatmaker says
LOVING all your comments so much, ladies! I especially love how everyone has picked up on the loose format. This is definitely not a formula. This is all in the spirit of a fast, and there are so many means to a similar end. Any shake-up of our routine helps keep us fastened to Jesus. And THAT is the point. I am cheering you on and praying for you every single morning. So much love to you from Austin!