Dieting is Out, Healthy Eating is in!
With our busy lives and schedules, it can be hard to put the attention on ourselves to constantly be eating healthy meals and snacks throughout the day. Many people then resort to things like crash diets, hunger suppressant pills, and, in extreme cases, surgery to try to keep up with today’s societal idea of beauty.
Sephardic Bikur Holim is extremely aware of the relevant dieting topic circulating within our community which is why they wanted to do something to help. SBH brought in two speakers to address the dieting topic that seems to be on everyone's minds.
On Dec. 14, Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, acclaimed speaker and educator, and Laura Shammah, community nutritionist, lectured the community in a question and answer format about these matters. The event had a great turn out and was recorded for a live feed on Instagram so that people who couldn’t attend were able to listen and submit questions through the social media platform.
The main focus of the discussion was about how quitting diets for good can help you succeed in weight loss. Here are some of the tips and concepts Shammah and Rabbi Goldwasser discussed at the event on how to get healthy the correct way.
1. Understanding what happens to your body when you starve.
Being a busy mother, wife, and having a job is a fine balancing act. Throw caring for yourself in the mix and things get even trickier. You might find yourself thinking, “I have no time to eat, but all the better anyway because if I’m not eating, I’m not gaining weight.” Contrary to popular belief, this couldn’t be any further from the truth.
If you consume 400 calories in the morning, your body has energy to use to function and then has the ability to burn upwards of 500 calories. If you’re eating zero calories, you're burning zero. This is only one of the negative effects of starvation. When your body is hungry and you don’t take in enough nutrients, your health can start heading south. Eating less in a day causes your metabolism, or the engine of the body, to slow down rapidly. This slows down the digestion process for when you finally do eat.
Everyone’s calorie intake is different, but generally if you're taking in under 1200 calories a day, you're body can go into starvation mode. When it’s in this mode, there can be adverse effects to your health as well as your aspiring weight loss. Your body starts eating away at its own organs for nutrients in starvation mode. On top of that, without glucose your brain can’t function properly so you can become irritable and moody. It can also put your heart at risk as you begin to lose potassium, it weakens the bones which in some cases can heal itself but is irreversible in children, and the list goes on.
2. Don’t rule out any food group, everything in moderation.
Diets that say you can’t eat anything out of one particular food group should immediately set off red flags in your head. This is because when you cut certain things out of your diet, you cut the nutrients they may offer.
Some diets say that fruit is to be avoided because some fruits are loaded with sugar. This sugar is natural, however, and in moderation, can be enjoyed daily. Fruit has tons of potassium and other vitamins that are amazing for our bodies. If you look at the grams of sugar in soda versus an orange, you will find a similar count. The important thing to keep in mind, though, is that soda contains chemicals and processed sugar which is harmful for the body while oranges contain fructose, a hexose sugar which is also found in honey that can be good for the body.
The discrimination of egg yolk was also discussed at the event. Shammah stressed the idea of discarding egg yolks and only eating egg whites is not something that is necessary in order to lose weight. Egg yolks contain high amounts of cholesterol which is known by many to be harmful to the body. Shammah stated, however, that new studies find that the yolks contain good cholesterol. If you stick to two whole eggs a day, it will not harm you!
Additionally, those without lactose intolerance could have dairy in moderation. We get most of our Calcium from Dairy so things like greek yogurt that are high in calcium and protein are great for you!
3. Being a positive role modeling for your children.
One of the important concepts that was discussed at the event was the role parents play in their children’s lives especially when it comes to dieting.
If you’re constantly obsessing over your body and trying many different ways to get thinner, whether you're feeding your kids healthy meals or not won’t matter. They will always have ingrained in them the importance of appearance.
In turn, this will affect their self esteem and could ultimately determine who they choose to marry. The words fat and skinny should not be allowed to be said in the house. Work on loving yourself and accepting your shape and your kids will follow suit.
Let them see you eating well, exercising frequently but not obsessively, and taking care of yourself in the proper way.
4. How to spot an eating disorder.
It was also discussed at the event the importance of how to tell whether or not someone you know has an eating disorder. There are many signs to look for when you suspect a loved one has an unhealthy relationship with food. These signs are important to know because catching an eating disorder in its early phases can make all the difference.
Here are some things to look out for: playing with food on the plate, not consuming food, they disappear for a while in the middle of a meal, constant complaining about their figure or distorted self image, sunken eyes, growing a false coat of white hair on the face, and rapid hair loss. All of these adverse effects of eating disorders serve as signs to look out for.
The person may binge and purge or not eat at all in hopes of becoming thinner and ultimately looking better, little do they know the countless negative effects eating disorders can cause the human body.
Putting a young person like a teenager on any sort of diet unless it is absolutely necessary, is really not worth it. Teach healthy eating habits and positive self talk to avoid the early onset of these terrible disorders.
5. Healthy habits to adopt.
- Eat high protein meals with some healthy carbs and fats for a truly balanced diet.
- Eat based on hunger, and stop when you are full.
- Talk positively about yourself and complement people, especially your children, on their characteristics and actions instead of appearance alone.
- Get yourself on a schedule much like a baby, eating small healthy meals and snacks every two to three hours to keep your metabolism functioning at its best.
- Work exercise into your daily routine. It is also important to note that if this becomes obsessive it can be harmful. If you can go a day or two without it and it won’t ruin your day, you should be fine.
- Avoid low carb or sugar free options that may be filled with chemicals. Try to go for food that has familiar ingredients, the more natural the better!
- Eat a sizable well balanced breakfast to feel fuller during the day!
- Enjoy your food! A meal plan in which you eat things you hate is not sustainable and will ultimately fail! Eat delicious foods that are good for you and once in a while allow yourself a treat, yes one donut on hanukkah is fine!
Frieda Schweky is Sephardic.Org's official community events reporter. For inquiries and to get involved with our site, please contact Frieda via email.