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LIVERMORE, CA - JULY 18: A Safeway customer browses in the fruit and vegetable section at Safeway's new "Lifestyle" store July 18, 2007 in Livermore, California. Safeway unveiled its newest Lifestyle store that features numerous organic and natural foods as well as expanded produce, meat, seafood and floral departments. The store also offers freshly made desserts and baked goods, a coffee roaster, a fresh nut bar and wine section with over 2,000 wines, some of which are stored in a climate controlled wine cellar. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

For an entire month, Jen Hatmaker only ate seven foods – chicken, eggs, whole-wheat bread, sweet potatoes, spinach, avocados and apples. She didn’t even have coffee or use olive oil and it was all part of her personal challenge to scale back in seven areas of her life: food, clothes, possessions, media, waste, spending and stress.

She’s written a book about it, “Simple & Free: 7 Experiments Against Excess,” and she explains that she challenged herself to do it after realizing how much food her family was wasting. This is what she says she learned during her experiment.

She saved a lot of money – She didn’t have her kids join in the food challenge, but just changing her eating habits meant she spent less on groceries.

She looked and felt better – Hatmaker says she noticed a “pretty dramatic change” in how she felt, looked, her energy level and how she slept, noting that sleeping through the night without waking up was one of the “most shocking” results for her.

She prioritized gratitude with her family – After her kids tossed their perfectly good fried fish dinners because they were out of ketchup, Hatmaker was inspired to start practicing gratitude for their food. Now they thank the farmers who grew it, the people who helped harvest it and the Earth for feeding us, all of which she says helps them care about their food consumption.

She cut a lot of waste and committed to sustainability – After the food challenge, her family started gardening, buying in bulk and shopping at their local farmer’s market, which helped cut down on food packaging. She says she’s learned, “There’s a hidden advantage to making choices that have a communal impact for the good, even if it means our personal choices are a little bit more limited.”