"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." Psalm 51:10

Thursday, September 19, 2013

How Much Food is Enough?

Who knew I could actually survive a week without dark chocolate? My go to snack in the middle of the morning, afternoon and night has become a handful of mixed nuts, not quite as savory, but it staves off the hunger when one feels munchy.

But, let me back up a bit. It’s my first week participating in the study by Jen Hatmaker, The 7 Experiment, Staging Your Own Mutiny Against Excess. As students we are challenged to do in 7 weeks what she and her husband spent 7 months doing, a week on each area of excess: food, clothes, spending, waste, possessions, media and stress. I can’t even imagine a month of fasting in each area. The truth is that as American Christians we have way more than we need and yet still want more. While many die of hunger, we are growing obese. While many have little to wear, our closets are bursting. It’s not okay that 1.5 million children die from hunger each year, and 20,864 people will die from hunger today when we have more than enough food for everyone on the planet. (www.statisticbrain.com/world-hunger-statistics/)

And, lest you think this study is some sort of guilt trip encouraging one to go and sell everything, let me assure you it’s not. I can’t help that I was born in America, the land of plenty, but I can use the resources with which I’ve been blessed to make a difference. Jen encourages us to be open to however God would desire us to act as a result of fasting. She advises us not to become legalistic and compare our degrees of fasting with one another to see if we come up short or ahead. Fasting looks different for everyone; God will move in each person’s life in unique ways. The point is to just do it, focusing on our own hearts.

If you think about it, our lifestyles revolve around food. When we complete one meal, we begin pondering when and what the next will be. Visiting the grocery store is often a multi-weekly occasion. Endless aisles of food offer a plethora of choices, most of them not super-de-dooper healthy. Events, parties, outings revolve around eating. We often search for something quick to microwave before we run our children to soccer, basketball or gymnastics practice. Our kids snack on granola bars, fruit snacks and pop tarts (at least my children do).  Our snack choices aren’t much better. It’s much easier to grab a bar than cut fruit and vegetables.

In the original 7 fast, the Hatmakers chose 7 foods to eat for one month. Can anyone say coffee and chocolate?! Ok, so one should pick healthy foods. However, Jen offers a variety of other ways to fast, so I chose to abstain from fast food and unprocessed foods for a week. It’s day 6, and I’m still alive. Have you ever thought about how much canned, boxed, frozen food we consume? When I look in the refrigerator and cupboards and start checking off items I can’t devour, I’m flabbergasted. No soup, mac n cheese, processed meat, or cereal. No popcorn, chips, chocolate, granola bars or ice cream. Out of over 300 items in my kitchen, clearly excessive, I’ve resorted to the basics of God’s creation: fruit, veggies, chicken. Simple, yet hard. Healthy, yet time consuming.

What I have learned:

Our family eats a lot of crap. My youngest asked if kids in third world countries eat a lot of processed food. Gee, I think not, I told her. They don’t even have enough real food, much less the junk that lines our grocery store shelves. While I don’t have statistics to prove it, that’s my guess.

I can make healthier meals. For the most part, I’ve tried to provide a balanced diet. Still, I’m so guilty for resorting to the quick fixes when my brain tires of planning vitamin packed meals displaying all the colors. Cooking is something I do out of necessity and duty instead of love, so the less time in the kitchen, the happier I am. Give me a bowl of Captain Crunch or Cocoa Puffs for dinner, and life is good. The family, however, is not so appreciative of that wimpy attempt at a meal. This week, I researched recipes not involving cans, boxes or mixes and came up with Garlic Spinach and Italian Kale. Broil some chicken breasts flavored with salt and garlic pepper only and cut up a mixture of fruit and voila, a tasty meal.

I don’t need over 300 food items in my kitchen. I have this thing about certain food items. I must never ever be depleted of mayonnaise, eggs, milk or chocolate milk. When I grocery shop, I buy more just.in.case. At one time, I had 3 mayonnaise jars waiting in the wings. Ridiculous, right? I didn’t even grow up in poverty, so what sort of insecurity is this? Don’t even get me going about my couponing and buying a bajillion boxes of fruit snacks because they are on sale and I have coupons! Doesn’t make much sense when we’ve down-sized to one child at home. My husband and I don’t even eat those things ‘cause they’re not ‘healthy’.

Around the world, people are still hungry, but I can do something about it. Living in America makes me feel far removed from those hungering in third world countries. Since they aren’t right in front of me, I live in my four walls oblivious to the need. Yet, there is a way we can all help through an organization called www.kiva.org. A microlending institution, it offers loans through people like you and me to groups and individuals all over the world to help them start- up businesses so they can provide food for their families. These loans have a high percentage rate of repayment and the money can then be recycled to another person or group in need. This is a fabulous way to help those who can’t find the capital to support themselves or their families. If I lowered my grocery bill by a mere $25 and loaned that money to someone on the Kiva website, I could impact a child’s future. A person’s life could be transformed by my actions to reduce excessiveness. What a sobering thought!

Here’s your challenge: count the boxes, cans, mixes and bags of stuff filling your shelves. I stopped counting at 300 because it was already just ridiculous. Be utterly amazed at your tally. Pray about doing some type of fast. Most certainly pray about how God might want you to help locally or through an organization like Kiva. But, do something!

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was

thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was

a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes

and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after

me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

Matthew 25:35-36


  1. Annette, I wish so much I could be doing this challenge with you! I recently read the book, and while I wouldn't say it was my favorite book ever to read, it was very convicting on some things. Food was one area that really spoke to me in the book. For me, I completely identified (I'm spoiling it a little, but you'll know what I mean when you get there) with her debate over how to even qualify "healthy" food. Is it good for you? Is it organic? How do we reconcile the expense of more ethical food with the desire to obtain our food cheaply (and even in ways that leave more money for other types of giving)? I still haven't figured this one out yet.

    I can't wait to hear more about this study from you! The book inspired me to sponsor a child from Compassion with some of my new-found spending money thanks to my new job. :)

  2. Yes, Victoria, wish you could be with us! It is certainly a dilemma to save money grocery shopping when buying healthy food. Would love to have coupons for fruit and vegetables! So glad you sponsored a child as a result of this study. Good fruit, right?! (Sorry for the horrible pun!)

    We miss you but are happy that you found a job!

  3. This is a study I would love to do, but knew I'd miss 3 of the 7 weeks. Whoops! Sounds like it's already making a huge impact in your life!!

    1. Definitely, Emily! It's a great study; one that calls me to question my lifestyle.