7: Food

{If you don’t know about Jen Hatmaker’s book 7, read here first. }

Well, I just loved this chapter

And all the ones after it…so let’s see if I can stay focused long enough to summarize this one chapter. The really good stuff is at the end of this post, so get comfortable. This is long.

Chicken. Eggs. Whole-wheat bread. Sweet potatoes. Spinach. Avocados. Apples.

For a whole month, Jen only ate those 7 foods.

She didn’t do it to lose weight, but that was an unintended result.
She didn’t do it to become more healthy, but that was also an unintended result.

Just like all the other areas in which she fasts throughout the book, she gave up all but 7 foods so that she could completely get her mind off herself and on Jesus instead. Her intended result was to have more of Jesus and that’s just what happened because a fast always drives us to prayer if we are truly motivated to stick to the fast. Because what else could help anyone endure 31 days of eating only 7 foods? Only the power of Jesus!

I don’t have plans to only eat 7 foods for 31 days. However, I’m going on more than a month of eating toast with coconut oil and peanut butter every morning for breakfast. And sometimes I eat it again for lunch. SO WEIRD, I know. This is not a discipline thing, it’s not a diet thing. I truly want this for breakfast every morning. I go to bed thinking about my toast and coffee the next morning. I’m sure this cycle will break soon and I will never ever want bread or peanut butter again. I can’t imagine not liking peanut butter. But, I’m going to enjoy it as long as my taste buds agree with me.

I do have plans to continue to strive to eat real food. For the first time in my life though, I see this as something that honors God. Not merely a healthy option.

For the longest time, I’ve been making an effort to “eat clean”. I believe that eating real, whole foods is the best way to live a healthy lifestyle. Cutting out additives, preservatives, and artificial ingredients is key to losing weight and avoiding many health issues. However, eating clean is a frustrating endeavor when you are feeding 3 people on a very limited grocery budget. Eating clean is expensive when compared to eating garbage foods. The food industry has found a way to trick us into eating “healthy” FAKE foods that can be produced at a very cheap price…and actually don’t make us healthier. Trying to balance buying real food and staying within my grocery budget is challenging. The balance (at least for me) is cutting out the junk as much as possible but being realistic about what I can afford to buy. I’m not going to beat myself up if I can’t buy grass fed beef or organic grapes. I’m also not going to feel guilty if for dinner I make my MIL’s delicious beef tips or my kindergarten teacher’s chicken and rice…both include unclean ingredients but are two meals I have been making since college. Love the recipes just as they are.

I don’t want to become a food snob. I don’t want to go all organic and buy unheard of brands from Earth Fare and join a CSA because I pride myself on my choice of food. I want to do those things if and only if I believe they honor God. I only want to do things out of conviction from the Holy Spirit.

This chapter simply confirmed my efforts for a real food lifestyle with the realization that it is the way of eating that God intended. God made the earth to bring forth food…that’s the food I should be eating. Fruit, veggies, grains, dairy, and meat. All those ingredients we can’t pronounce on a nutrition label? Just man-made garbage. And if we truly believe that our bodies are temples where JESUS LIVES then shouldn’t we be intentional about what we put in His house? Our bodies are not our own. They belong to Him.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

This chapter also confirmed my meal planning efforts. I love to plan meals…when I have ample time to really think about my next week and grocery shop. It’s a little bit of a challenge right now. I haven’t figured out how to take both kids to the store. I know some of you more seasoned Mommas are rolling your eyes right now. But, where in the world do you put the groceries??? Lily can walk with me, but Scott’s car seat isn’t designed to sit in the front part of the grocery cart so he has to sit in the large part…and at that point why did I even go to the store to buy groceries? So for now, grocery shopping has to be done when Brent can keep the kids at home…or at least Scott. Lily likes going with me to get her free cookie. THANK YOU PUBLIX! And why did I not know about this until she was almost 3?
Anyway, back to meal planning. I’ve always done this because I’m a Type A organize everything kind of gal. I enjoy making lists. I enjoy crossing things off my list. I enjoy grocery shopping. I enjoy organizing my fridge and pantry with the groceries I purchase. But, just like eating real foods, I now see meal planning as something that honors the Lord. It’s all about being intentional with what I buy. When I meal plan I am doing two things: only buying what I will need for the upcoming week (and maybe some Talenti gelato…just in case I need it, can I get an Amen?) and reducing the amount of food that gets wasted.  
Growing up I was always in my mom’s kitchen saying, “There’s nothing to eat in this house!” or “Mom, you NEVER buy what I like.” Just what any mom loves to hear after spending $200 at the grocery store, right? I have many memories of my mom sitting on the couch every week to make a meal plan for the upcoming week. She would plan the meals, make a list, and the meal plan with her oh so neat half print/half cursive writing would hang on the fridge all week. She went to the store and bought exactly what a family of 4 needed to eat 3 meals a day for 7 days. Sometimes that list included powdered milk…to which she denies doing at all except once. But, let’s face it, we all know my childhood memories are completely accurate. Not a lot of miscellaneous or random items were purchased without reason. I guess by default I am the same way. I buy exactly what we need for the meals I plan. And now I see that this is a way to honor the Lord with my finances and resources. I stay within my budget and we throw away very little uneaten food. 
{Even our uneaten food could be composted and we wouldn’t waste any food. But I just learned the word “compost” while reading this book. And I just made the newly-learned word a past-tense verb and I do not even fully know if I conjugated the word correctly. So…maybe I should save that fun activity for later in life.} 
So far the book convinced me even more that eating real foods and meal planning is what I should continue to strive to do and I now have a greater purpose for doing those things. 
Let me just stop right now and say that these are convictions about food that I have. They may not be your convictions. You may have never even thought about food in this way. I don’t know what’s going on in your food world. Seek the Lord. He’ll grab your heart where it needs to be grabbed. 
Here’s where the chapter really grabbed my heart and melted it. 
Jen tells a story of how she prepared a meal for her kids. Breaded and baked fish fillets. A meal her kids have consumed countless times. She did some housework while the kids ate. A while later she came into the kitchen to find five of the six fillets thrown in the trash completely untouched. Their reason for not eating them was that they didn’t have any ketchup. 
{Side note: Jen has two kids from Ethiopia that she was in the process of adopting when she wrote this book.}
 “Maybe it was the headache I couldn’t shake this week. Maybe it was the pizza commercial I saw that caused me actual pain. But probably it was my afternoon in an Ethiopian restaurant where I prayed for my African children and worried they were hungry and wished desperately they knew I was coming. It was probably the haunting knowledge that East Africa is suffering drought for the sixth year in a row…And tonight my kids here with me in the land of plenty threw away a pound of food because they didn’t have any ketchup.” (p. 22)
She goes on to say…
“How can we extract our children from this filthy engine where indulgence and ignorance and ungratefulness and waste are standard protocol? Where they know they can throw perfectly good food away because there is always more in the pantry?” (p.22)
One one side of the world she has kids who live with plenty and will always have access to more, and on the other side of the world she has kids who are wondering what day they will eat their next bowl of rice. 
I’m not in the adoption process, although I pray to be one day. 
But if I had kids in another country (or in my own country) that were on the brink of death due to starvation, I would sure be grateful for what I had here…ketchup or no ketchup.  

Regardless of God’s adoption plans for us, we are commanded to care for the orphans and widows. Even if those orphans never become my children, I am to care for them like they are Lily and Scott. That includes thinking of them when I want to throw away a plate of food because I didn’t have ketchup. And being satisfied with God supplying my needs rather than my wants.
I hope you have caught on to the ketchup metaphor by now.  
I’m sick of the overindulgence of food, of clothes, of money, of anything. Overindulging in the unnecessary when others don’t have access to the necessary. 
Deciding to not throw away a plate of food isn’t going to physically feed a child in Africa. But it’s the thought process that comes with carelessly wasting and overindulging that makes our hearts grow cold and indifferent to the hungry and the poor. Being mindful of what I consume creates room to be more aware of the needs of others. And sacrificing my wants by eating that plate of fish with no ketchup is the pain necessary to be moved to care for those in need. 
“Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need. The remainder is needed by others.”
St. Augustine nailed it. Take what you need, give the rest to others (time, money, talents, materials). It’s really that simple. End of story. 
Thanks for reading. Next chapter: clothes. 

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