“Fasting is an expression of seeking God with life-and-death seriousness”
– John Piper
I’m on Day 5 of a 40-day long journey.
For forty days I am fasting off of all processed foods. The purpose is more than just to gain an appreciation of real food (though that is definitely included). It is more than just denying myself for the season of Lent. My real motivation is to be more actively engaged in prayer and ministry with time and energy normally spent eating.
I have two “focus points” for this challenge:
- A 40 Days for Life campaign is going on in my city during the Lent season. It is a community prayer vigil for the awareness and protection of human life.
- A Place at the Table: 40 Days of Solidarity with the Poor. This devotional-style book has daily readings to guide intercession for undeveloped countries where hunger is a life-threatening issue. By eating a diet similar to these cultures for forty days, I hope to be reminded to be in constant prayer.
This is going to be hard at times, but I am so excited. Excited to see where eating intentionally and with purpose leads my thoughts and prayers and actions. I’m also excited to share what I learn with you. I have a number of posts lining up: What I’m not eating v. what I’m eating, a day in unprocessed meals, hunger v. appetite, being satisfied with less, and 100% natural recipes!
For now, here are the lessons I’ve learned these first five days:
1) I am such a product of this convenience, have-what-I-want-when-I-want-it culture. Food is so available to me, when I go to the grocery store, when I walk into the drugstore, when I’m studying at the kitchen table. It doesn’t take much thought to find food, but I also realize that I often orient my day in terms of food: Before my run, I’ll grab a handful of nuts and afterwards I’ll make a smoothie…As soon as I get to work I’m making myself a latte…Friends are coming over, I need to stock up on chips and dip…I can’t wait to end this day with a big bowl of popcorn and some chocolate. These thoughts stem from food habits, not necessity and are foreign to most of the world where the purpose of eating is nourishment and survival.
2) To combat sweet cravings, don’t limit FRUIT: I’m really giving myself no limitations here. The idea is that if I satisfy my sweet cravings with fruit, I won’t be tempted by sugar. Fruit has been my #1 snack, and I’m making it my job to keep the fridge well stocked with apples, berries, and oranges. And, of course, BANANAS. I think I’ve been averaging 2.5 a day.
3) Fill your plate with fresh VEGETABLES in their natural state: Again, no limit here. I am trying to bulk up my meals with produce, eating them in their most natural forms possible – either raw, roasted or stir-fried over the stove. Cutting out processed ingredients means skipping my typical seasonings like stir-fry sauce. Minimal seasoning’s been going on with salt + pepper, herbs, and lemon juice. What I’m finding is this way of cooking brings out the natural flavors vegetables which are amazing on their own!
- Discovery: Mushrooms are amazing. I bought a huge box of baby Portabellas and have been throwing them into almost every savory dish. They add tremendous flavor and are stellar on the nutrition scale: 5g of protein and 3g fiber for each cup plus high levels of minerals like selenium, B vitamins, and riboflavin.
4) Eating only unprocessed WHOLE GRAINS expands creativity. Starchy carbs are my number one craving and I knew going into this challenge the hardest thing for me to give up would be processed grains – cereal crackers, pretzels, packaged bread, tortilla chips. If I am going to persevere through this, I need to get creative with real whole grains. Brown rice, buckwheat, oats, cornmeal bulgur – this are the staples of the underdeveloped world (and most of the world, for that matter) and for the next forty days, they are mine too.
5) All that’s needed to make a meal is Grain+Vegetable+Protein. For breakfast this has been oats + pumpkin(or sub fruit for vegetable) + nuts, lunch is homemade tortilla (recipe coming soon!!) + green veggie + beans, and dinner is brown rice/bulgur + beans or tofu + salad. No condiments, no frills. Simple and satisfying.
6) Making one-pot meals and not snacking takes my mind off of food and onto more important things. Instead of my typical snack-through-day habit, I am attempting an approach of eating three meals a day, not for social or boredom reasons, but simply to feed my body well. When the munchies hit, instead of hitting the snack cupboard, I am purposing to get my thoughts and hands busy accomplishing this list:
- Pray for country and people featured in A Place at the Table
- Pray through missionary list provided from my church
- Sign up for a time slot at 40 Days for Life
- Read: Currently Bonhoeffer and Francis Schaeffer
- Call a friend or family members
- Take a walk with my mom and sisters
I plan on getting a lot done these forty days!!