Inspired by Jen Hatmaker’s book, 7, I am launching my personal mutiny against excess. In case you haven’t heard about 7, you can read about it here. The basic idea is this: we have too much and we don’t even know it. 7 is kind of like a fast from too much, and kind of like an exercise in restraint and kind of like pure, absolute torture.
I recently began food month, which means I am trying to eat only seven foods for the next month: chicken, beans, rice, apples, sweet potatoes, avocados, and spinach. And water, only water. I am already willing to trade half my foods for coffee and the other half for cheese, preferably extra sharp cheddar. Before I began, I thought “food month won’t be that hard, I like healthy food.” Okay, maybe, but I also like variety. Limited sparingly to olive oil and salt/pepper is torment for a girl whose favorite condiment is sirachi and favorite relish is jalepenos. I crave spicy, salty, creamy, crunchy.
My dreams are crafted of pizzas bleeding tomato sauce, crowned with garden veggies and fresh mozzarella, of warm chips and cool salsa, of thick peanut butter on a spoon and ice cream speckled with vanilla beans. I love food, and 7 is helping me realize that. But it is also helping me to realize that many people do not get to experience this affair of enjoyment. I am not experiencing anything close to what starvation or desperation actually feel like. I am experiencing the tiniest bit of denying myself, and there are times it feels miserable. This is how self-centered I am.
I have realized that usually when I eat, I’m not actually hungry. Limit your options and you learn the difference between a craving and actual hunger. Most of the time I want something to eat because I want something to eat, not because my body actually needs it. And when you’re staring at beans and rice for fifth time in two days, you begin to understand this idea.
I have also realized that it is very, very, very hard to say no to things I could have. There are still non-7 sanctioned foods in our home and access to non-7 foods everyone I go. Coffee constantly is trying to lure me in with its seductive smell. The idea of saying no to something I could have, something no one would care if I did have, something that would make me feel so good…. now that’s not easy. It is such a reflection of our world, isn’t it? If I can have it, if it’s accessible, I want it. We are not much of a culture priding ourselves on self-discipline or the virtue of waiting.
Most importantly, I have realized that I don’t really like avocados, I like guacamole.
And for those of you who are wondering: a day without coffee really is like a day without coffee.