3. Addressing the Problem
a. Since research indicates that people have a biological set point of weight that is determined predominantly by genetics and early nutrition, diets that restrict caloric intake below one’s needs do not work in the long run. Studies show that 95% of dieters regain the weight they lost within one year.
b. The key to maintaining a sustainable body weight is getting regular exercise and making healthy food choices. Doctors recommend that children have 60 minutes of physical activity daily. A helpful guideline for healthy food choices is to fill half of your plate with vegetables, one quarter with carbohydrates and one quarter with protein.
c. The actual foods a person eats are just as important as the number of calories in one’s diet. One should avoid ingredients that sound as if they were made in a laboratory, e.g., MSG, hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, and BHT. Just as Hashem created our bodies, He also created the natural foods we need to keep them healthy.
d. Hashem created each person with a neshama (soul) and a guf (body). While the body is important and must be carefully maintained, a person’s true beauty radiates from the neshama. This is the beauty that elevates those around us and can increase throughout our lives rather than diminish with the passing of the years. We must strive to identify with our neshamos.
The media, “beauty” products and diet industries are conspiring to wreak havoc on our self-concept. The best defense is to clearly understand this phenomenon and use the latest findings of the medical community and the timeless hashkafos (perspectives) of the Torah to combat its insidious effects. By educating our children and their parents, we can chart a course that promotes a healthy mind, body and soul.
About the Author: Sarah Levy, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist/neuropsychologist who lives in Atlanta, GA and speaks widely on the topic of social and emotional learning programs in schools. She works at Torah Day School of Atlanta, and conducts neuropsychological assessments in private practice. She has developed a social/emotional learning curriculum for Jewish schools that teach relevant life skills to students. For more information, she can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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