Monday, May 23, 2011

Guest Post: Living Healthfully

Those who read my blog regularly know that this past semester, especially reently, I've been putting up a lot of guest posts. It's been a rough semester and besides my school work, I've had a chronic cold that goes away and comes back for much of the semester. You who read regularly also know that I've been posting about health lately. So, I asked Hedva to write a guest post for me since she eats healthier than anyone I know. Please note that this is not the guest poster who has written most of the recent posts. This is actually her first guest post for me.

You can be thin and still be unhealthy. If your sole goal is to be thin, don’t waste your time reading this. If your goal in life is to be healthy, then read on!

I try to BE healthy, and I try to drag my family with me. To me, BEING healthy means:

1) Managing my time well so that I get enough sleep and eliminate as much stress as possible from my life. That means no TV, no playing computer games, and limiting time on email, social networking sites, etc.

2) Getting enough exercise. This does not necessarily mean joining a gym. To me, it means walking whenever possible, using the stairs instead of the elevator, running around with my kids, and doing a few minutes of yoga every night.

3) Eating healthy foods and drinking lots of water.

Healthy eating is what Michal wanted me to focus on, and it is undoubtedly the most important aspect of healthy living. I don’t count calories and I don’t look at the fat content. I simply eat as many whole foods as possible, and avoid the processed foods.

When I leave the grocery store, my shopping cart is full of vegetables, fruit, eggs, unprocessed cheese, fresh fish, plain yogurt, meat, and poultry. These are whole foods. I buy whole wheat bread with no sugar added (my goal is to one day use my bread machine and make my own bread!), and I buy 100% whole wheat pasta and rice. I buy quinoa. I do buy whole wheat crackers and whole wheat pretzels for the kids, but I try to limit their snacks to whole foods, like raisins, fruit, veggies, etc.

It’s really that simple. I cringe when I see other moms loading their carts up with soda, candy, potato chips, frozen chicken nuggets, white bread, white pasta, American cheese (aka, processed garbage), that yogurt that comes with the cookies and chocolate on top, etc. This stuff is not food. Some parts of it used to be food, until a corporation got its hands on it, added lots of garbage to it, packaged it nicely, and is now passing it off as food.

I try to serve eggs and hot cereal for breakfast, but my kids like cereal with milk too. So I buy the 100% whole grain cereals that don’t have any chemical preservatives and have less sugar. It’s still processed garbage, but it’s a little better than Fruit Loops.

We drink water. Lots of it. We never bring soda into the house (that stuff is poison). We have 100% juice only on Shabbos as we eat plenty of fresh fruits. My kids get OJ when they are sick and I’m trying to entice them to drink more. If you don’t like the taste of water, learn to like it. Eliminate all other drinks from your diet and within a couple of weeks, you will relish the taste of water. It’s a must for a healthy lifestyle.

Are we 100% healthy all the time? Of course not. We eat challah every Shabbos, which is our weekly dose of refined white flour. I give the kids a special Shabbos treat, be it a cookie or a fruit strip (made from real fruit). We eat dessert on Shabbos and Yom Tov (although I always substitute whole wheat flour for white flour). We go out to eat sometimes, and indulge in the white bread and the white pasta. But we usually eat real food.

And let me tell you - we eat well. Very well. My fresh vegetable salads are extremely yummy. I make fish or chicken every night, and it’s always good. My vegetable dishes have lured in even the most anti-healthy people (yes, asparagus and broccoli CAN taste good). We never go hungry and we never eat bland, gross food.

Cooking takes a lot of time and effort. It requires a lot of planning. Every Sunday morning, I sit down and write out a meal plan for the week. I then write up a shopping list and send the hubby shopping. I prep as much as I can the night before for dinner the next day. I’ll cut up the vegetables, prepare the marinade, etc. Having everything ready in advance makes it so much easier to put the meal together quickly.

Some people don’t have the time, or are simply unwilling to devote that time to cooking healthfully. In my opinion, if eating healthfully is a priority, you’ll find the time to cook. Cut out the television watching, reading blogs (except Michal’s, of course), and the time you spend on Facebook, and you’ll have time to cook a healthy meal!


  1. long winded here:
    A good trick for water is to add citrus wedges or ginger slices to a pitcher of water for a hint of taste. Or add a touch of juice to seltzer.

    I don't like the taste of plain yogurt, so I'll add berries or a little bit of cocoa powder or cinamon and sugar. Still way healthier than the commercially flavored.

  2. Love it! It's much of how I eat (now that I'm eating healthy) but I am not quite as strict. I have tried, I just CANT do whole wheat bread/pasta, but I don't eat a lot of grains. I do buy two bottles of diet pop for Shabbos as a treat. I've been picking up calcium fortified OJ and if I am not drinking that and I just do NOT want water, I opt for tea because I figure it's not AS BAD as most "liquid calories." Carrot juice is my other occasional non water...

  3. I also get some diet soda as a treat for Shabbat. I grew up in a home where we rarely got soda. We got a bottle of the off brand along with pizza to celebrate birthday and 'good report cards,' which came out a few times a year. When I got on my own, I went completely crazy on soda since it was then freely available to me. So too much restriction isn't good thing. I tend to stay away from OJ unless it is served at a meal, as it will do a number on blood sugar (which then signals insulin secretion and fat storage).

    Plain tea doesn't have any calories. You've heard all the benefits of green tea. Red tea and white tea also have antioxidants. Again, I don't like 'plain' so I'll get some exotic flavor like mango or add citrus to the pitcher. I sweeten with either xylitol or stevia. Both are natural sugar substitutes.

    I love pasta, but find that I can often get away with making a rich pasta sauce (spicy with olives, mushrooms, capers and such) and putting it over veggies will cure my craving. Squash works especially well.

    I rarely eat bread durng the week, but thin sliced is a good trick. I get deli cheese sliced thin, so 2 slices are less calories. Or I'll cut up a roll like a loaf, so I have small slices so it seems like more of a eating a 2-3 mini sandwiches (plus can stuff more veggies in each mini sandwich than 1 roll sandwich).

  4. I don't view my position as restrictive. I view it as loving (to my family and myself) and smart. My kids may go off and do anything they want, and I really have no control over that. But while they are in my care and my responsibility, I will not feed them junk or poison (and don't kid yourself, white grains and soda are poison). In the meantime, they eat really well and will certainly recognize that for the rest of their lives.

    We add honey and wheat germ to yogurt - YUM!

    As for not liking water, learn to like it! Trust me - eliminate all other drinks from your diet and you will get a taste for it. I love tea too - I add honey to mine. I simply can't stand the taste of stevia.