Tag Archives: Healthy Eating

Let’s Keep the Healthy Stuff Healthy, shall we?

veggieWould you like to know what’s on my mind this week? Not much to tell you the truth. Lots of fun exciting things happening in the life of Duby – including collecting Cheesecake recipes and ideas for a children’s program I’m planning for Shavuos.

On the health side though – not too much happening. (sorry Smile)

But with all the cheesecake and dessert planning, it has occurred to me how awfully ironic and strange that someone who touts healthy this and healthy that, has found herself in charge of Yom Tov desserts. (ps – I requested to be in charge and my mother in law happily agreed) Of course, I give this a lot of thought. My 8 year old sister in law doesn’t know me as the carrot crunching naturalist, but more as the girl who bakes fresh Cinnamon Buns and Chocolate Rugalech, and brings them over for a pre-Shabbos treat. Quite a contradiction isn’t it?

A few weeks ago, my hubby was at someone’s house and was snacking on cucumber slices, dipped in salad dressing. He was snacking with the kids of the household and they were all super proud of their very healthy snack choice. Yes, they could have chosen the cookies or the twizzlers, but instead they chose the veggie and dip so they could grow up big and strong! (the kids, not the hubby Smile) well, whaddya know, after munching for a while – my husband decided to check the label of the dressing bottle (more for fun I suppose to find out what made it so yummy). I’m sure you can guess what he found on the bottle. The thing was loaded with chemicals and sugar up the whazoo.

The point of my story (and I do have one) is that I propose we keep the healthy things healthy so the dessert can be dessert. When we eat a cookie, we are aware that we are eating a “treat” (as in something that shouldn’t be eaten all the time – not in the sense of a reward). Even the new age Cookie Monster gives a disclaimer that cookies are great IF you eat them AFTER you’ve had your dinner / fruit / vegetables etc.

How are our kids (and ourselves) supposed to differentiate between what’s really healthy and what’s really not, when the supposed healthy foods aren’t much better than the dessert?

Let me break it down for you.

If the salad is filled with nutritious and fresh vegetables, but the dressing is loaded with ketchup, sugar, soy sauce, do we still call it a salad? (if a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it….:)) I’m sure I’ll get a lot of criticism for this statement but here goes anyway:

What’s the difference between eating the sugar loaded vegetable dish and eating a chocolate chip cookie?

The difference is that when we’re eating the sugary salad – psychologically – we believe we’re eating something healthy.

A quick anecdote I’d like to throw in here for fun. (and because I just thought of it). Years ago, I once spent Yom Tov at someone’s house (no, I won’t tell you who). They’re food is heavenly. Like YUM. Duby at this point was trying to watch what she ate, and knew in her mind to just eat the healthier foods and stay away from the bad ones. (sounds easy right?)

I’m sitting at the Yom Tov table and I’m realizing that there was no healthy option!!!!! Every vegetable was turned into some sort of Kugel, farfel, muffin, or cake type of thing. And that wasn’t even the starch product for the meal! I sat there in disbelief. The healthy stuff was compromised and I ended up eating things that I really hadn’t wanted to.

We are trying to teach our children how to choose healthier foods and make healthier choices – but what are we doing when NEITHER is the healthier option?

Granted, I haven’t done the breakdown of the nutritional differences of said Chocolate Chip Cookie and Said Sugary Salad – but it’s my opinion that it is teaching a convoluted message.

So yes, I’ll confess in front of a jury that Duby the healthy weirdo bakes NON healthy desserts. If you’ve been following my blog you probably remember my experience of baking healthy. (You can click here if you want to read about that adventure) but I’ve realized it’s not for me. Maybe when I have kids, I’ll change my tune and embrace the coconut oil- raw honey-oatmeal cookies, but for now, I’m keeping my desserts as DESSERTS, and the healthy stuff HEALTHY.

An oxymoron? Perhaps. But at least I know that the nutritionalangel value of my veggies are not compromised and you can rely on the fact that my Cinnamon Buns aren’t compromised either Smile

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Posted by on April 29, 2012 in Physical Health


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Is Our Religion Getting in the Way of Our Health?


Matzah joke

Well my friends, it’s obvious that I’ve been neglecting my blog. I’ve been enjoying my other projects and you could say I use up all my writing energy elsewhere with not much left for my blog.

So I guess we’ll see what will be the fate of the 5 Pillars. Lord knows I don’t want to give up on the whole blogging thing, but at the same time, I often feel guilty when the posts aren’t frequent enough.

Let’s talk about something that has been weighing on my mind lately.

Really, this is more of a rant / vent about something I don’t have an answer for. This is something that has popped into my brain as I’m recuperating and getting back on schedule from our week long marathon called Pesach.

Is our religion getting in the way of our health?

Another way I would phrase this question is:

“Do our Holiday customs make us unhealthy?”


For those of my readers out there (and I know you’re out there!) who wouldn’t dare say a negative thing about our way of life, I’ll try to tread lightly, but I gotta tell you – this isn’t the first time I’ve thought of this concept. (please, spare me the hater comments)

Let me explain:

The holiday of Pesach comes along with many Laws and Customs. Many of which don’t exactly scream healthy. Let’s examine a few of them:

1) According to Hagaddah, we are instructed to drink 4 cups on wine in one evening. (and then do that again the next night)

2) We are instructed to eat Matzah:

a. 1 whole Matzah for the Matzah portion of the seder, (minimum you can eat ½)

b. ½ Matzah for Korech (the sandwich).

c. 1 whole Matzah for Afikoman

So according to the Haggadah – for those of us math whizzes – that’s 2.5 Matzahs that we HAVE to eat entirely. (oh and the first matzah needs to be eaten within a few minutes).

3) We have a full Yom Tov meal – usually 3 courses

4) Aside from the Seder, we are instructed to have a full meal for lunch after Shul, and then another full meal hours later for dinner. By full meal, I mean eat fish AND meat.

Shall I continue?

I am somewhat bothered by some of our traditions-turned-Halacha that have been solidified throughout our generations.

Allow me to continue.

Many of my friends, family and the wonderful world of the Imamother forum have similar complaints of digestion issues over Pesach. Many have constipation, others are running to the bathroom while others just feel fat, bloated with discomfort.

I gave this some thought and here’s what I have come up with.

It is WONDERFUL that our tradition is to do away with ALL processed foods on Pesach. It’s excellent that we don’t have chemicals and additives in our foods. Everything is homemade – from the juice we drink, to the seasonings – it really is excellent for our health.

However, (and this is a big however) – our diet over this holiday isn’t exactly one to be admired.

A) Meat, Matzah and Dairy products are not constipation friendly. They plug us up!

B) We have done away with many vegetables and fruits that help maintain healthy digestion. Foods like Broccoli, Spinach, Asparagus, Brussel Sprouts, kale, or berries which are very high in fiber etc …. are not allowed because they cannot be peeled. So other than a salad, we are left with very heavy and starchy vegetables (or kugels which aren’t very light on the stomach either)

Obviously I wouldn’t (publicly) suggest going back on years of traditions as I know these are important, but I cant help but feel some of our “Laws” (and I put laws in quotations because eating only a peel-able vegetable is NOT a law) are not very good for our health. I have a hard time understanding why our infallible Torah would instruct us in ways that can G-d forbid cause us to be ill.

Luckily, Pesach is just one week long and it only comes a year. And now that it’s over, we have just enough time to get back to our healthy habits before its time to combat all that Cheesecake on Shavuos! Constipation-Leunig


Posted by on April 18, 2012 in Physical Health


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Dear Duby: How Do I get My Hubby to Eat Healthier?


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Dear Duby,

I love reading all your posts on eating healthy (especially the healthy snacking post!!) but I need some help with how to get my sugar loving, everything unhealthy eating husband to join! If it says "Spelt", "whole – grain," or anything healthy sounding on it, he won’t touch it! What can I do????

Always a loyal fan 😀

Dear Fan,

Thank you so much for your question and I am so happy you enjoy reading my blog. As you know already, you pose a tough question! I guess you wanted to challenge me Smile

A Health Issue Vs. a Marital Issue:

For starters, before I get into ANY sort of answer, I’d like to point out for all our readers: You and your hubby are both pretty thin and healthy to begin with. If this was a situation where your husband couldn’t walk up a flight of steps without nearly passing out, or couldn’t walk down the block without the need to rest – then I would say it’s not an issue of health anymore but a “Shalom Bayis” (marital) issue. When one spouse is doing something detrimental to their health such as texting while driving, smoking, drinking too much etc. then I would handle this situation entirely different. This would all depend on how things work in your marriage.

For me, it wouldn’t be “honey, maybe you should start eating baby carrots instead of 3 cheeseburgers…” The conversation would look more like this – “Honey, if you don’t lose a crap-load of weight and get your health under control, I’m kicking you to the curb!” (Obviously exaggerating, but you get the point) But, like I said – I know your hubby and it’s not a matter of life and death – but more of incorporating more healthy habits.

Having said that – let’s begin our discussion.

You Can Lead a Horse….

We all need to remember the old adage “you can lead a horse to the river but you can’t make him drink” This is with ANYTHING you want someone else to do. At the end of the day, you can’t fully control what your husband/significant other/friend/life partner does. Even if you have the healthiest food in your house – you never really know what he’s eating when he steps out of the door and goes to work everyday.

So what to do?

Here are some ideas that MIGHT help. (I say might because let’s face it – it might not Smile)

1) Planting evil messages in his brain:

Oooh mind control! For my hubby this actually worked. (don’t tell him I told you this Smile)

My husband LOVES playing sports. Whenever he would come home from a game, and tell me he didn’t play well, I would ever so casually ask him what he had been eating earlier that day. When he DID play well, I pointed out to him how his food choices were helping him with more energy, and stamina on the court of field. After a while the message started to sink in and he came to realize that yes, when I eat better, I’m able to enjoy my hobbies (and sports) more.

Every person is different and you need to see what works for them. I mentioned my “planting evil messages” to my friend and she told me that it would NEVER work on the men in her family. They would just laugh. But after thinking about it, she DID realize that the boys in her family (her brothers) LOVE Competition and they are constantly comparing who’s thinner, stronger, or more ripped. So in her situation – the message we want them to learn is that your food choices make a HUGE difference in giving you the edge on strength training, or how far you can go on a Treadmill.

Maybe he hates the idea of gaining weight. Feel free to mention to him “dude, is your stomach a little bigger? Maybe its just the lighting in here” SmileSmile Anytime he mentions his weight is an EXCELLENT time to suggest incorporating more vegetables and less Snickers bars J Also, let’s remember that while he may be thin now, metabolism DOES slow down with age. (we all know our daddy’s with their beer bellies) so if weight is something that is important to him, he should understand that his 36 inch waist isnt going to last if he will continue to nosh. (is 36 a thin number for men? I have no idea…)

The point is we want our spouses to realize (whether we point it out subtly or flat out) that eating healthy actually has benefits!!! When we eat better we have more stamina, we can think clearer and we feel better. Let’s not forget to mention SEX is better as well. (maybe THAT will encourage him to ditch the fast food and go for a salad instead)

2) Let him experience it himself.

Once you’ve pointed out these benefits, allow your hubby to come to these realizations on his own. When I did my first detox last year, my husband wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea, but he joined to help and support me. I don’t think he ever expected to see amazing results himself. His migraines disappeared, he had better energy and in his words “I never felt this healthy before in my life.” But I never pushed it. Occasionally I would ask him how he felt, but after the detox was over he was surprised how incredible he actually felt.

However, I do want to point out that this method didn’t always work for me. There is a “Total Nutrition” Green drink that I take every day, and for months I’ve been trying to get my hubby on board with drinking it. I’d often ask, “do you feel good when you drink it?” or “Do you feel like you have better energy to work / play” or about weight loss, “does the drink make you feel fuller?” (these are all effects that I have gotten from this drink) But he hasn’t. So I don’t push the subject – it’s not his thing and that’s ok. I gotta pick my battles J and this leads to my next idea:

3) Snack Times: Swapping out evil for less evil – then swapping out less evil for not bad …

Not all nosh is created equal. If corn chips and mayo dip are evil (for example) – then maybe you can switch them out for whole grain pretzels with mustard. And then maybe we can swap those out for a multi grain chip with salsa. And then go for chummus and baby carrots (if you can ease in that far.) What I’m saying is that you don’t have to jump into spelt quinoa crackers right away (actually I don’t recommend it at all). There are some great chips out there that aren’t as bad as the candy and cookies that he would be snacking on during Football games. And if he freaks out when you bring out the Chummus and Baby Carrots – tell him, he can have the chips instead that the carrots are for the women J (the point is to take small BABY STEPS so you don’t scare him away.

4) Incorporating healthier foods during meal times

Just like snack times – the same applies for meals. I don’t recommend diving into the alfalfa sprouts right away … but it’s not hard at all to serve a HUGE salad before your entrée, and make lighter healthier meals. Everyone agrees that if you eat a huge salad, or a vegetable soup, you’ll end up eating less red meat for your meal. It takes some planning. This way, if your hubby is craving a greasy burger from a restaurant, at least you know that he’s been eating healthier dinners/ snacks at home most of the time.

5) Saving treats and other noshy items for Shabbos / special occasions

I like this idea. This way if he DOES catch on that you’re trying to “healthy” him up – you can always tell him “the nosh is saved for Shabbos” so it’s not like you’re getting rid of it ENTIRELY and he’ll feel deprived. We’re just saving it for a special occasion.

6) Make it a “we” situation – not “You.”

This is a concept often spoken about when it comes to couples and their issues. To use the word “I or WE” and not “YOU” to make sure your spouse knows you’re on the same team. (Dolphins right?) With food, the same principle applies. I, as in the wife, want to try eating healthier – let’s do it together. Let’s start walking together … or eating supper at the table instead of in front of the TV. Make it a journey you embark on TOGETHER.

One time I was at a party and someone commented that I was so good about not eating any of the cakes being served. She wanted to know how I was so disciplined all the time. I explained that I’m not always and occasionally I pig out and then pay the heavy price. My sister in law who was with me at the time, told this woman that my husband and I always keep each other in check not to overeat, or eat bad food. So yes, in public it might seem weird that my hubby will tell me “no you can’t eat that” (looks abusive?) but I do the same thing to him, and it’s true. When you have a partner in crime, it really pays off.

7) Blaming the kids. –

I know you have a little one, and this trick might work in your house. “We want the kids to learn healthy habits so we should start eating healthier in the house.” Getting rid of the all the extra junk food and stocking up on foods you would want your toddler to see you eating (and end up eating herself). Another way to phrase this would be: “We want to be around for our kids for a long time… we want to be able to run around with them… play ball with them etc.”

8) Exercising –

My doctor once told me that one of his patients is a marathon runner and therefore he can get away with eating a LOT more crap because he just burns it all off with all the running. Does he recommend this method for us normal people? No WAY – BUT exercising can at least off- set the food so it’s out of your system.

9) A Key thing to remember: Sugar CRAVES sugar.

You can deny this all you want but it’s a fact. When we’re on a cycle of eating sugar (or white starchy foods) – they cause our body to continue to crave it. (This is why we get that feeling of “I can’t stop eating!”) When our bodies are eating properly, it’s EASY to eat until we’re satisfied and walk away from the table. The hard part is those first few days abstaining from ALL sugar to get rid of the initial cravings.

It’s something to think about.

Some People Need a Wake Up Call

At the end of the day, there are people who are just not interested in healthy eating / living. These are people that need a “wake up call.” You can warn your friend every day about texting while driving, but until they crash (or swerve dangerously) suddenly the message takes effect. People need to be open and ready for the light bulb to turn on no matter how many hints or tricks we try.

I am very excited to know if any of my ideas actually work. Please keep me posted on your progress!

As always, thanks for reading and I look forward to your next exercise 1question!

Duby Litvin

5 Pillars of Health


Posted by on November 2, 2011 in Physical Health


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Physical Health: Duby’s Tishrei Report Card

report cards 1

I think the day after a Holiday Ends should be the Rosh HaShana for Health. Quite obviously, we’ve pigged out (or I’ve pigged out), had a routine that consisted of eating and sleeping and its time to re-commit ourselves to healthy living. Dust off our treadmills, put on our sneakers and get moving.

While I have all these grand ideas of perfect diets and healthy habits, it is only fair that since I am human and nowhere near perfect (shocking, I know) I should also be accountable for when I screw them up royally. And so my readers – here is my Tishrei Health Report Card for the world to see!

(PS – in College I had a 3.9 GPA … this is not even close Smile)

Rosh HaShana:

Food: A-

Exercise: D+ (I walked next door to Shul – is that counted?)

Stress Level: A-

Enjoyment of Holiday: A

I wanted to kick off the Holiday season on the right foot and I knew the way to do this was with the right food. The better I eat, the better I feel – it’s as simple as that. With 3 days of an eating marathon, Shul going, and spending time with family – I knew I needed to feel as good as possible.

So, the little planner that I am – I brought homemade Spelt Challah (sugar free) and we ate those during the meal. A VERY smart idea (A+ just for that) Neither me nor the hubby felt that “fat” feeling from Challah, or the need to eat more than one or two pieces. We made small round Challahs, so we never overate. Definitely an idea I will be doing again in the future.

My mother in law was very gracious and she made sure to put food aside for me that were sugar free, and breading free. (if the salmon had a sugary sauce there was a piece just for me that was plain.) I am ever so grateful that she did this, because I have no doubt this helped me feel healthy throughout the holiday. (A+ for that!) I also made sure to bring healthy snacks such as Cucumbers and Chummus, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes and fruit to have on hand for those long afternoons when the munchies attack.

I did give myself an A- overall for FOOD because I’m a very harsh grader Smile On the last day of the holiday, there was a sense of “yay I did it!” and so I kind of pigged out on that last afternoon… lots of yummy cake floating around and after Yom Tov was over, I found myself in the Nosh cabinet at my in laws house sampling chips and other evil goodies Smile But overall, not bad on the food front.

I added “Enjoyment of the Holiday” on my report card – because in my opinion this is THE most important aspect of the Holiday. In my last blog post I compared Tishrei to Football. (if you didn’t read it yet, you’re missing out some Duby brilliance!) Many of us dread the holidays and feel like we just need to survive and get through it – this is terrible! We need to re-learn how to enjoy the holidays whatever that means for each of us. I often told my mother in law that I see Yom Tov so differently that I did when I was a teen, or a young adult. As a teen, I loved when Yom Tov was long, or when it ended on a Thursday which meant we go straight to Shabbos – because this meant an extra two days with no school and spending time with my friends. I never remember feeling bloated and barfed from all the food as a young one. And certainly I never remember ending a meal and just an hour later back in the kitchen with the rest of the women to help prepare for the next meal. And this is EXACTLY why as adults – through our adult eyes – we need to embrace the holidays differently than we did as kids.

Yom Kippur:

Food: (break-fast): B- (yay bagels!!!)

Exercise: (if you count turning pages in a magazine exercise)

Stress Level: C

Enjoyment of Holiday: B

The thought of Yom Kippur this past year would make me panic. Fasting – with nothing to keep me busy or distracted (where are you Netflix when I need you?!) well, it all sounds dreadful. But thankfully Yom Kippur was actually pretty darn good. (dare I say enjoyable?) we stayed by the in laws, which meant the hubby walked next door to Shul and was able to come home every so often to rest, read, chill out… it also meant that I was able to go to Shul for a few minutes here and there during the day. With the hustle and bustle at the in laws, there were lots of people there and we spent most of the break chatting and made the time go by in an enjoyable way and the stimulating conversation was delightful.

I would have given myself a higher grade for Stress Level – but going into the holiday I was very anxious over the whole thing… I didn’t even eat! In fact – a few hours into Yom Kippur I was starving because I barely ate that day. Definitely something I need to work on for next year.

Overall, not a bad holiday – and I even felt inspired!

Sukkos: First Days:

Food: B-

Exercise: B-

Stress Level: B

Enjoyment of Holiday: A –

Originally the goal of the first days of Sukkos was to have a calm, quiet and peaceful time. Recuperate a little from the nuttiness of the high holidays and rest up for Simchas Torah which was going to have a lot of excitement.

But that didn’t really happen Smile

The main reason why — once again — it all boils down to food.

I blame the cheesecake. To DIE FOR !!!!!! it was calling my name!!!!

While I stuck to my plan (click here to read my Tishrei plan for this year) – we had ONE meal in the afternoon and only soup in the evening – it didn’t help that some of the foods on the menu weren’t healthy. So after my meals I often felt like crap… at nights I had trouble sleeping from the sugar and as we all know it’s a vicious cycle of eating:

Unhealthy Food= Feeling Bad = Getting Hungry = Craving Bad Food Again.

Therefore, the resting, recuperating and peaceful holiday didn’t exactly go according to plan. (how can it when you’re preoccupied complaining that your stomach hurts ?) But I have to admit, the cheesecake was sort of worth it 😉

We did take a few short walks in the afternoons after eating… no major marathons, but a leisure stroll down the block… better than nothing, right?

Overall, I enjoyed the holiday greatly. It’s always awesome spending time with the hubby… our Sukkah was beautiful, the weather couldn’t have been more perfect and I was proud of my little menu. I only give it an A- because at times I felt kind of sick from the sugar overload Smile

Simchas Torah:

Food: C

Exercise: B-

Stress Level: Before Children’s Program: C / After Children’s Program: A-

Enjoyment of Holiday: A –

Simchas Torah for me had 2 parts.

Before my Children’s Program

After my Children’s Program

I coordinated and ran a Children’s program for the kids in Shul on Thursday night. (it was a great success for those wondering –we had between 25-30 kids!!) Anyway, before the program I was on edge, nervous, anxious (for those who know me – it comes with the territory… I need to learn how to chill out)

However, after the program I was a lot more calm. I was thrilled at its success and was wired and hyper from then on. I was relieved that it was over so I felt free to enjoy the holiday and not have to worry. Oh and I also no longer gave a hoot what I ate – so if it was junk food, It was probably in my mouth. And then I had seconds.

Healthy Cookies For Lunch?!

I told my 4 year old brother in law that on the last day of Yom Tov I didn’t have lunch because I ate too much nosh!!! He asked me what nosh was so I explained to him that nosh is stuff like candies, chips, cakes – things that aren’t healthy for our bodies. He reassured me that the cookies we ate during Shabbos party are healthy. Hmmm… could sandwich cookies be considered one of the food groups? Smile

That concludes my report card for Tishrei 2011…

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Action Points for Next Year:

a) Spelt Challah: Great Idea!

b) Veggies for Snacks: (i.e. baby carrots, baby cucumbers, grape tomatoes) Great Idea! – I would add that they should be more accessible – I kept my snacks in the basement fridge right near my room (which is good) but in the afternoon when the cake was calling my name, my baby carrots were nowhere to be found!

c) Bribing the mother in law to put food aside: Great idea! (this year I bribed her with baked goods… next year chocolate Smile)

d) Exercise: I did NOT do well on the exercise front… too lazy perhaps? But a walk after the meal is imperative to get the food to digest and to feel normal. Gotta work on that.

e) Stress Level: Coordinating to stay at the in laws house on Yom Kippur was a Great Idea – and I “reserved” a spot for next year as well. I need to work on those anxious feelings that surround Yom Kippur.

f) Enjoying the Holidays: This year – I give myself 100% improvement on enjoying the holidays. It takes conscious effort to thrive and not just survive the holidays and I think each of us needs to find ways that will help us find the spirit of the season. The new shoes and clothes I bought definitely helped… knowing I had something nice to wear always puts me in a festive mood. Maybe for you, getting extra cooking / cleaning help or going away for Yom Tov, eating out for meals would help stress less.

My point is: there are many ideas. The question is:

what works for YOU?

g) PLAN PLAN PLAN. I discussed this in my Tishrei plan  and it worked out very nicely. The Holidays are the same day every year. Let’s not fool ourselves. There is a lot to do. There is no point in waiting for the last minute – because the only thing that will do is ensure we begin the holiday season exhausted. Pacing ourselves, step by step – from the menu planning, to the shopping, to the little errands that are very important but often trivialized (i.e picking up the dry cleaning) the last thing we want is to be frazzled. Planning definitely helped things run smoother and obviously meant less stress all around.

~ ~ ~ ~

Well my friends – there ya have it. I definitely have what to work on for next year, but I’m definitely headed in the right direction. Maybe next time I’ll blog about some of the inspiration I gleamed from all this Tishrei stuff… (maybe)

In the meantime, time to get back to uber healthy eating… and I think I hear a detox in the very near future. (who wouldn’t want to do a detox now? After all that food?!)

Now its your turn…. How does YOUR report card look from Tishrei?

Feel free to share in the comments on things you did RIGHT and things you would like to IMPROVE for next year holiday season.


Posted by on October 26, 2011 in Physical Health


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Food, Glorious Food!

Praised be! The holiday of Pesach is over !!!! I couldn’t be happier. Ok ok, its not why you think… I am just so sick of eating!! The incessant amount of meals, and meals .. and more meals… and then in between you can either go to sleep on a disgustingly full stomach, or walk to Shul and pray. Hmmm… the truth is the holidays are wonderful. A great time to get together with loved ones and celebrate the traditions of our religion.

What I truly hate, is how our food related traditions have suddenly become “law.” We all know that we Jews eat a lot… everything revolves around a meal. Whether you’re happy, sad, celebrating an engagement, new baby, or even R’L a funeral, there is always cake and schnapps to be had… and then we have our holidays throughout the year.

The High Holidays filled with honey cakes, fresh challahs & honey, and then the Sukkos marathon of meals – we all “swear” we’re beginning our diets and swear off all unhealthy foods and promise to be “good.” Well it works for a while.. (give it a few weeks) you turn around and BAM! Youre hit with Chanukah … Chanukah we celebrate the miracle of the oil by traditionally eating fried foods. I can understand that … but MUST we choose the most unhealthy version of this??? Must it be POTATO LATKES??? Must it be Jelly Donuts???? Would it be so terrible if the tradition was eating a scrambled egg fried? Or how about Stir fry veggies ? Fine, I admit, I too would rather eat a piping hot potato latke filled with oily salty flavor smothered in sour cream as opposed to a plate of vegetables (don’t we all?) But its almost “law” that we HAVE to have a donuts and latkes, or else we haven’t really celebrated Chanukah properly.  So we all give ourselves a little permission cuz “hey, its Chanukah!” And it really is depressing going to Chanukah parties and hanging out at the fresh veggie platter and staying far away from the GOOD stuff… (and by good stuff im referring to the “traditional” lasagnas, zitis, latkes, donuts, fritters.. ooh boy im getting hungry just thinking about it !) — so by all means, we’re humans for goodness sakes and so we enjoy a little nosh, because hey – its Chanukah! (oh I forgot to mention the Chocolate Chanukah gelt…)

Continuing on the calendar comes my seriously favorite holiday of all. Short holiday, but still oh so important – PURIM! Its only one day but it packs a HUGE punch of Calories! Someone once asked me if Purim was like the Jewish Halloween. I was about to tell them that in a way it was – since we eat lots of candy and junk food.. but then I remembered how I felt when we went to our neighbors for the Seudah. Not only are we noshing on Hamantashen the ENTIRE day… and sneaking little candies from the baskets throughout the day – but then we sit down to an ENTIRE 3 course meal filled with soup, fish, Challah, chicken, rice etc etc etc (you get the idea) – so if I was bursting out of my skirt BEFORE the meal – you can only imagine how I felt at the END of the meal!!!

You get the point right? Throughout our year – all these holidays are sprinkled throughout – and although we always feel “after the holiday is over – I PROMISE I’m starting on my diet!” Its almost impossible because you’re cursed with having to deal with yet another holiday right around the corner. (oh, and lets not forget to mention the fact that in between these holidays we have weekly Shabbat meals, friends weddings, engagement parties, brissim, and other such celebratory reasons to eat! :))

This all reminds me of the one year I spent Pesach at my aunt & uncle’s house in Cedarhurst NY. We all have different traditions and restrictions that we employ over the Pesach holiday – and when I asked my aunt if there was anything I needed to know about what they do or don’t use on pesach, my aunt answered me “We don’t eat bread.” Haha ! Well, I figured that since Pesach is a time when we’re slightly limited in the food department, in my mind I assumed there would be plenty of healthy vegetables and proteins so I wouldn’t have to worry about my waistline .. (as long as I stayed away from the potatoes, I would be ok, right?) WRONG! It seemed that for the lack of “bread” and Chomatz eating – my aunt felt she needed to compensate by making every possible of “boring” vegetable into a matzah meal filled, potato starched kugel! You couldn’t tell the difference between the carrot kugel or the carrot cake!!! It was insane!!! What was a girl on a diet supposed to do??? My choice was between the matzah farfel or the broccoli kugel … ahhhh!!!!! So I ate to my hearts content … I walked away from the table feeling so stuffed I could not MOVE… and if you think I am exaggerating, I wish I was! I couldn’t even lay down I was so stuffed to the gills it was beyond repulsive …. My biggest problem??? I had to do it ALL over again the next day for lunch!!!! And then for dinner again!!!!! Ahhhhh!!!!!!!!

Ok ok – so all you smart asses out there are probably thinking “well you could always just ‘not eat.’” Yeah – well I will tell you that that’s easier said than done … especially when youre a guest in someone else’s house. So there! 🙂

My point people is that over the years, we have somehow decided that while making our food traditions both memorable and special for our children and families, we have forgotten how to be healthy in the process… instead of making a delicious Feta Cheese Greek Salad or a Yogurt dessert, to help celebrate the Dairy filled holiday of Shavuos, instead we have Blintzes, Cheesecakes and the most decadent calorie filled treats! (oooh Shavuos … heavenly!) I suppose we might feel deep down that a Greek Salad on Shavuos, or a Zuchini pancake on Chanukah just aint gonna cut it … who will look forward to a holiday where the food isn’t delectable? Hmmm.. well that can be debated on another blog. As for me, I am just happy the Pesach marathon of eating is FINALLY over! Time to crack down on the diet & exercise. Time for us to assess why we do this to ourselves time and time again, and maybe just maybe its time to make a decision to finally change our traditional foods and choose healthier options. Doesn’t that sound like a wonderful idea? Well… maybe we’ll start after Shavuos 🙂 🙂

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Posted by on April 11, 2010 in Physical Health


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