I recently took part in an experiment in which I committed to eat only seven foods for seven days. There were no rules as to which seven foods I could choose from, nor were there any armed guards in my kitchen or alarms on my refrigerator to keep me honest. I could have cried uncle at any time and buried my face in a chocolate cream pie—nobody would have sued me.
The experiment came from a book by Jen Hatmaker, titled 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. In the book, Hatmaker challenges Americans to cut out all of the extras that make us fat, indebted and wasteful, among other things. Over the course of seven weeks, willing participants are challenged to trim down to the bare necessities in seven different areas: food, clothing, possessions, media, waste, spending and stress. Each week brings a new challenge to get by with less in hopes that by the end of the book, less will prove to be more.
My husband and I are in this one together. So far, we’ve completed just the first challenge: food. Although we could have chosen anything from pizza to broccoli, we opted for a whole food route, trying to ensure that our seven-day diet would provide a variety of vitamins and minerals in spite of the limited foods. We ate: black beans, quinoa, eggs, spinach, almonds, apples and pepper jack cheese (the cheese was our flavor splurge). We quite purposefully chose four superfoods (spinach, quinoa, almonds and black beans) and tried to build a list of compatible foods that would be versatile enough to fill three meals each day. For us, it was important to stay true to the seven foods and limit “extras,” though we did use olive oil, salt and pepper modestly. That’s it. No garlic powder or cinnamon or even a dash of cayenne. We drank water exclusively.
It was a challenge indeed. On day two, I questioned our sanity for ever having committed to such an absurd experiment. I rebounded on days three and four, but I kid you not when I tell you that on day five, I curled into a fetal position on the floor of my closet and cried at the thought of taking even one more bite of wilted spinach. Day six brought a light at the end of the tunnel and by day seven, I was downright giddy knowing that when the clock struck 6:00 my tongue would once again savor a range of flavors from acidic to sweet and everything in between.
I’m pleased to report that the experience was not in vain; I did indeed make spiritual, physical and mental strides over the course of the week. There were some other lessons tucked in there, too, like which foods not to choose when limiting one’s self to seven simple foods for seven whole days (quinoa, anyone?). With food conquered, we’re moving on to clothing next week—choosing seven (and only seven) articles of clothing to wear for seven days. If you’d like to read more in-depth reflections, you are welcome to follow our journey on my blog at suchthespot.com. But I’m curious which seven foods you would choose were you to participate. Please share in the comments.