7: can't we skip the food chapter??

I picked a lousy time to give up coffee. Well, technically, I can still drink coffee; I just can’t put anything in it that will make it taste more like happiness, less like dirt.

I had no big plans to give up a bunch of stuff during this read-along. I was just going to go with the flow, be cool, listen to God, whatever. And by golly, if I didn’t sense God saying JUST THIS MORNING, “Hey, I know. How about you give up sugar for a week?”

Sure, no problem. Except COFFEE! And I just made a whole stinking pan of my Aunt Susie’s famous O’Henry Bars. And…

We spent the day at my mom and dad’s. It didn’t exactly go as planned. We knew this weekend that my grandma hadn’t been doing all that well, but it wasn’t until we got to Mom’s at 10 this morning that we found out she was more than likely dying. I was so thankful for the chance to go spend an hour or so with her, holding her hand, telling her I loved her, trying to understand the words she wanted so badly to say and couldn’t get out.

My favorite part was singing three verses of It Is Well with My Soul to her with my husband, sister, brother-in-law, dad, two uncles, and two aunts. It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life, and I won’t ever forget it. I didn’t want it to end.

I would love prayer for my grandma, her 7 kiddos, and our whole big, crazy family. We’re a pretty tight bunch, and Grandma’s always been so, so good about convincing each of her 26 grandkids that he/she’s her favorite.

After my sister Bethany and I (and our hubbies) spent our time with Grandma, we relieved my mom of her babysitting duties, and she headed to Grandma’s nursing home with Dad. Stew and Gabe did man stuff (remote controlled cars and planes) while Bethany I chatted about FOOD and SEVEN and PRIDE and all kinds of other good stuff.

And it was great, but WE NEEDED COFFEE. Whenever I get together with my brother and sisters and their spouses at my mom and dad’s, WE NEED COFFEE. That’s just how it works.

Instead we made hard-boiled eggs (??) and drank some nasty tea.


And then I found out my friend Britt is back in town (she just moved to NY from C-bus) and wanted to bring me a drink from Starbuck’s in the morning. I get Starbucks about twice a year, so I got online to look at their menu and remembered, I CANNOT HAVE COFFEE. AT LEAST NOT THE DELICIOUS KIND.

Lest you think that I’m showing incredible discipline today, you might remember that I started off the morning on a SUGAR fast which I quickly changed to a SWEETS fast. So, like sweet onion kettle chips and sweet lebanon bologna? Clearly don’t count. Neither do Hawaiian sweet rolls. Nor do dried blueberries (with sugar added). I ate every single one of those things today.


But holy moly, enough about me.

I would love to hear what kinds of things you’re doing (or thinking, but mostly doing) to “celebrate” Chapter 1 of the book. What foods do you sense God telling you to give up? How are you going about it? If you’ve been at it for awhile, what have you learned? And share your failures too–they can teach us just as much.

(And it’s not too late to share your thoughts/link to your blog post on yesterday’s discussion.)

50 thoughts on “7: can't we skip the food chapter??

  1. gini

    So… only 4 days late… but my Wednesday fast from sun up to sun down was a total failure. After 6 hours in a classroom of 6th graders without food and a blarring headache and a short temper (asking God to fill me with his spirit almost every 30 seconds), I gave in and ate some oranges… then some snack mix… and then dinner while the sun was still out before heading to love on 3 year olds before the sun went down…

    I did pray a lot… but mostly selfish “I feel horrible and 6th graders are making me crazy!” prayers… even though we are moving onto clothing this week, I’m not giving up on fasting… I’m going to commit to fast 1 day a week some way, somehow. I already gave up caffiene… maybe I should try sugar before I try no food at all????

  2. Valerie

    Well, I am doing a fast from 7 foods/food groups that really aren’t good for me, and for the most part it hasn’t really benn that hard. Not hard enough to really draw me closer to God as a result of the “fast” (which really, honestly, can I call it a fast to not eat and drink stuff I shouldn’t really eat and drink anyway? I dunno…..)

    And yet, this 7 Read-Along has drawn me closer to God in very visible ways. One, God has shown me opportunities to be generous outside of my normal modes of giving. “7” convicted me of giving so much money to a church that spends it mostly on “blessing the blessed”. So this week I gave to the Traffick Jam, and I gave a good few hours of time to the local shelter for abused women and children. And I am also going to give to Jen Hatmaker’s Haiti project. I would have never heard of these giving opportunities had I not read 7 and joined this group.

    I approached this time of reduction in a spirit of inquiry. My children have gone off to college, and I have been so blessed with a wonderful, loving Christian husband who provides for us so that I don’t need to work to survive, and I seriously have wondered some mornings if there is even a reason to get out of bed. I keep busy with church work and my LOL (little old lady) ministry, but I really would like for God to lead me to a great passion or something. It kind of scares me to think that all God wants me to do for the rest of my life is drive Miss Daisy around. Y’know? I dunno. Still praying and waiting.

  3. Rachelle

    I just re-read the food chapter. I just want to really get this. And it hit me, I have a great example in my real waking life! My kids attend a very small rural public school. We have 38 students k-12 and a fabulous superintendant, that also acts as principle, sub bus driver, playground watcher and cafeteria monitor. He is a Godly christian that brings it! My kids told me earlier in the year that when the little kids go to dump their lunch tray he eats the leftovers and drinks the remaining milk. YES he does! Sick, huh? Yeah I thought so too. He is a fit 60-something dude that believes in good health. So I wondered why on earth he did such a horrendous activity. Until I re-read this chapter. And now I.get.it.
    The man makes 90K. He can afford lunch but he is being an example to our kids of the amount of waste, good edible food, we simply throw away. And let me tell you it is making an impression on my kids. Right there in front of me and I didn’t get it until today. Just had to share.

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  6. John McCollum

    Oh, man. Do you want to come to our office and let Seth and I try to sell you on really good, fresh-roasted coffee? We roast twice a week and have four different ways to brew it…

  7. Jessica

    My husband and 18 yr. old son are day 14 of month one of “7”. It has been an adventure to say the least.
    Marla, you asked what we are doing to celebrate chapter one? Here it is….”We have not killed each other.” 🙂

    There were 9 brave people that showed up for our first “council” meeting aka…small group experiment on Monday night. (We are meeting once a week during Month One then going to twice a month for the remaining 6 months of this journey.) And we have another “7” small group that will be starting on Sunday Mornings at 11 a.m. for those that can’t meet on Mondays. So we will see how many join us for that day as well. To me, that is our way of celebrating, sharing this experience with others.

  8. beth lehman

    i’ve just been convicted to stop the mindless eating. the “i don’t know what to do with myself”. “what am i craving…. i’ll just start eating whatever i can find”. (i always do this at about 3:45 – when the kids and i are home from school). so, drinking water then and trying fruit if i am really hungry.

    More with Less cookbook? Grew up with it. My mom’s copy was burned… (too close to an element..) Lots of rice and lentil dishes, beans, too. Some great ideas.

          1. beth lehman

            page 105 – basic cooked lentils – the curried option. my friends and their families swear by the next page “honey baked lentils” – but my family did not care for them….

    1. Valerie

      That was one of the first “voluntary simplicity” cookbooks I ever had. I loved Doris Jantzen Longacre’s comments more than the recipes. An amazing person! Also read her “Living More With Less.”. She’s a real pioneer in the movement.

  9. Jennifer

    I can’t believe I forgot to mention this yesterday, but if you’re really interested in breaking away from processed foods and getting back to scratch cooking, there’s a great cookbook out there that’s really helpful. It’s called More-with-Less Cookbook (by Doris Janzen Longacre), and it’s written from a Mennonite perspective. Spend less money, eat healthier, consume less of the world’s resources — that kind of thing. I’m a disaster in the kitchen, but even I can manage to make the recipes in this book, so anyone can do it! I checked, and they have copies on Amazon for anyone who’s interested.

    1. brooke

      are the recipes time consuming? i’m not a great cook, but part of that is because i don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen. or at least that i’m willing to spend in it.

        1. Marla Taviano

          Let me rephrase that. I got another book of hers, Living More with Less, and DEVOURED it. Totally right up my alley. Then 2 different people told me about the cookbook, so I got it. At the same time my husband had a heart attack. And I totally forgot I had it. Going to go get it off my shelf right now.

  10. Jennifer Ekstrand

    One thing my family has been doing for a few months is not purchasing chocolate that we can’t reasonably expect to have been produced with ethical labor, which practically means chocolate purchases are limited to fairtrade.

    I don’t know that it has made any earth-shattering changes in our lives, but there has been a decrease in consuming cookies and such.

    It has given a way to reframe some of my food cravings. A while ago, I was really craving some Keebler fudge cookies… the idea of how tasty they would be just would not go away, after a while of hearing me go on and on about the cookies, my husband remembered that fudge cookies, umm, contain chocolate. Quickly my thoughts moved from how much I wanted the cookies (despite knowing they weren’t healthy, that I would eat too many of them at once, and the ridiculousness of going to the store primarily to get cookies) to a certainty that yummy cookies are not nearly worth the cost of child labor.

    I’d like to expand the idea to include sugar, but I’m not sure how that would work practically: there is sugar in everything… tomato sauce, turkey, salad dressing, not to mention stuff that is actually sweet (and switching to products that contain high fructose corn syrup instead doesn’t seem like a good option).

    The change doesn’t solve all my food problems: I know my heart is still sinful in the way I prefer the taste of specific foods above caring for the body that belongs twice to God (as He both created me and purchased me on the cross), the way I prioritize food over relationship with God and people, and the way I gloss over my lack of self-control with excuses (“my circumstances made me over-eat”).

    1. Jessica

      wow… love this comment too. in a yucky convicting kind of way… your last paragraph…ouch…. thank you so much for posting exactly what i need on day 14, month one.

    2. Valerie

      Whoa, yeah. That last paragraph is amazing. I love that ” body that belongs to God twice”…… Never thought about it that way, but it sure makes you stand amazed at His goodness, doesn’t it?

  11. brooke

    right now i’m eating from the pantry – since i’m gearing up for my marathon, i don’t feel comfortable doing much more than that. but honestly its not that much of a sacrifice. we have plenty on hand and i’m enjoying not going to the grocery store.

    i know that i should say “soda” – it helps nothing with training. it only subtracts from my wallet and adds to my waistline. only i love the sound of the can popping open and fizzing. and i love the taste.

    crap, i really should say “soda”. and stop saying “crap” – my pastor told me I needed to wash my mouth out on Sunday 😉 and i’m fairly certain a small child overheard.

    1. Marla Taviano

      When my now-9-year-old was a small child, I overheard her say, “That’s a bunch of freaking crap!” Oops. Mama = guilty. (not that I’ve stopped using those words–I haven’t)

  12. HopefulLeigh

    Without even realizing that the first chapter was about food (my copy of the book is en route), I felt led to give up candy this week. It’s entirely too easy to have a piece of chocolate here and then another there. This mindless snacking is not in line with the way I want to treat my body. So I decided to be intentional about it this week and then had to laugh when I read yesterday’s post.

    Praying for you and your family, Marla.

  13. Shannon

    I didn’t comment on the introduction because I couldn’t help but read the food chapter too, and I think I was in a bit of shock about 7 foods for 30 days. After a week to think about it I can speak! I decided I can do 7 foods (plus coffee) for 7 days. I liked most of her list. Mine is:

    Whole Wheat Bread
    Plain Yogurt
    Sweet Potatoes

    I am only using salt, pepper, & olive oil for seasoning. Last year I did Beth Moore’s Daniel study which had a time of abstaining from rich meats, but there was still lots of tasty foods to eat. I find it very different removing flavor from my diet.

    I am desperate for focus and order in my life right now. Denial of self always takes me there. Then some circumstance comes along that rocks my world and throws any order I had out the window. I also find that in the middle of and after difficult circumstances I am inclined to indulge myself and my family more than I should and we end up running in too many circles. It’s time to run the race to win. The timing of this discussion is perfect for me. I look forward to seeing the many different ways this will unfold in each others lives!

  14. Kelly

    Do you guys like Splenda? I hate most artificial sweeteners, but that one tastes fine to me. And even if it’s not quite as yummy as sugar, it’s at least sweet! 🙂

    Ok, I realize that probably defeats the purpose of Seven…

    1. brooke

      lol! in a similar non-Seven related way, i love the splenda sweetened coffee syrups that they sell at Sams and Home Goods. 🙂 with a splash of milk they make the perfect cuppa

  15. Rachel M.

    My husband is doing the sugar/sweet fast for Lent while I’m abstaining from using social media on my phone (it had become an unhealthy obsession). Anyway the first week went okay, no sugar in coffee, he couldn’t eat my freshly baked mini sweet potato muffins with cream cheese icing but it’s been 2 full weeks and he’s still in mourning! This morning we had Wednesday waffles and he had his with apple sauce. I’m starting to really feel bad for him! And you! I try to keep lots of fruit options on hand, but that doesn’t help with the coffee dilemma. I will say that after 2 weeks of no sugar in his coffee he’s finally used to it. Best of luck to you and I’ll keep you and your family in my prayers.

  16. Leslie

    I’ve read the food chapter twice this week and I’m trying to really listen for God’s direction in my response. Normally, my type-A personality is all-in on anything, but I’ve been so mindful of (as Jen says) the narcissistic quality of some of my stupid offerings in the name of holiness it just makes me sick. So I want it to be for Him, about Him, not about me jumping through some hoops to impress…who? So I’m considering what kind of fast God may call me to. Just today, I felt led to fast from complaining…to voice joy, gratitude and contentment in every moment. I’m headed out to our farm and praying to do small things with great love!

  17. Jessica

    I’m planning to start seven foods for a month on April 1st (I’m getting married on March 23rd so I thought I’d get past that first 🙂 (Also, don’t get me started on the horri bleness of reading 7 and planning a wedding. I have had about 12 breakdowns over cake and orphans to pretty much anyone who will listen). So my fiancee is telling everyone that we have a whole week of a honeymoon and then I’m coming back and turning into a freakshow.

    Learning from Jen, I decided to do a caffeine stepdown, because my caffeine consumption is not normal (coffee and diet cokes per day:8, glasses of water:0). It was going really well, and then I had a stressful day at work and pretty much ran to the vending machine for a diet coke. I stopped myself and just said a prayer- less of me. More of YOU.

    I can only imagine when I have to give up french fries and ranch dressing 🙂

    1. Marla Taviano

      Oh, you poor thing!! Wedding cake and orphans! I’m so glad I didn’t care about orphans 14 years ago when I got married. 😉 Praying for you right this minute. ENJOY YOUR WEDDING AND HONEYMOON. The freak show can wait. 😉

    2. Jessica

      Congratulations on the upcoming wedding. Man, those orphans have a way of getting to us don’t they…:) Thank God.

      Enjoy your wedding day. “Rejoice with those who rejoice” and just think of what ‘2 that are becoming 1’ from that day forward.

      God’s Blessings. BE IN THE MOMENT.

      1. Jessica

        i meant to say… ‘just think of what ‘2 that are becoming 1′ from that day forward can do for orphans.’

  18. Sharon

    I was thinking that I would wait til I finish reading the book to start doing anything. But, then I realized, I’ll probably actually do the other chapters as I read them, so why was I trying to get out of doing the food chapter here and now? I wasn’t sure exactly what I would do for chapter 1, but was pretty sure taking chocolate out of my diet would not be safe for anyone. This mama is not happy if she can’t have chocolate when she wants it. Which pretty much confirms that’s what I should do, right? Today commences day 1 of no chocolate.

    And, Marla, I agree. Plain coffee = disgusting! I like 1/4 cup of coffee, 2/4 cream and 1/4 sugar. Or just give me a mocha with pumpkin spice and we’ll call it good.

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