Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Previously: Shevi and Gitty talk about Gitty’s brother who is overweight and Shevi’s shares some nutritional tips.

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“How’s it going?” Mrs. Rich asked as she cheerfully greeted us at our next appointment. I smiled back at her. Mommy sat down next to me with a plop.

“Good,” I said.

“That’s great!” Mrs. Rich exclaimed. “Tell me about it.”

“Well,” I said, shy at first, “it’s hard, too. It’s like you said last time – that it is hard to change habits. But at the same time, I feel good because I’m working hard on something that’s important. And that’s a good feeling.”

Mrs. Rich beamed. “That’s wonderful, Shevi!”

Mommy nodded slightly besides me.

Mrs. Rich invited me over to the scale, and I willed myself to go calmly. The dietician had told me over and over that it wasn’t my weight today that mattered – what mattered was where I was going and what I was doing to get there. That thought gave me the courage to step onto the scale and look at the numbers. Mrs. Rich clapped her hands.

“Look, Shevi,” she said. “Your hard work is starting to show!”

Indeed, the number on the scale was lower than it had been the week before.

A flush crept up onto my face as a happy feeling wormed down my body and I sat back down.

“My husband has lost some weight, too,” my mother murmured. “He and Shevi are up to 30 minutes a day on the exercise bikes.”

“That’s excellent! Shevi, I am so proud of you! You are a model client.” She turned to Mommy. “And how are your new meals going?”

“It’s not easy,” Mommy admitted.

“No, it’s not.” Mrs. Rich agreed. “As we discussed, changing habits is definitely not easy! But the great thing is that our brains don’t take long to adapt to new habits. Before long, the whole family will be reaping the rewards of eating healthy and it won’t be as hard as it is right now. Did you look into the resources I suggested for family-friendly and healthy meal and snack ideas?”

Mommy nodded. “Yes. They were certainly a good place to start.”

“I loved the veggie sticks you prepared with those fun dips when we came home from school the other day,” I told Mommy shyly. It was easier to stay away from the pantry when Mommy had alternative, healthy options on the table when I came home. Once again, I felt grateful that Mrs. Rich, Mommy and Abba had made this into a family affair and not a “Shevi” thing. And speaking of the pantry, it was looking less enticing nowadays anyway. Mommy bought nosh just for Shabbos now, so besides for crackers and pretzels, there wasn’t much there anymore. My siblings adjusted to it quicker than I had expected. I guess I was the main customer for the yummy stuff anyway, and I was trying to stay away from it.

“Shevi, your skin looks clearer, too,” Mrs. Rich commented. “Did you notice?”

I had noticed; which teenage girl wouldn’t? I had also noticed that I had more energy and felt much better in general. My blossoming friendship with Gitty was nothing to sneeze at, either.

Mrs. Rich was talking again. I quickly tuned back in. “In order to keep our bodies working properly, we need to provide them with certain nutrients in certain amounts. That brings us to the food groups – the basic types of food our bodies need. Last time we discussed how our plate should be divided between the different types of food groups. Now let’s talk about the food itself. Shevi, do you think you can name some of the different food groups?”

I thought back to our placemat. The first three were easy. “Protein, vegetables, and carbohydrates.”

“Right! Give me an example of each.”

“Um, steak, carrots and rice – or a muffin?”

“Great choices. That’s a really healthy meal – as long as the muffin is not over-loaded with sugar. Those are the basic groups, and they should be included in every meal. Don’t forget the fruit, too. Fresh or frozen fruit, or fruit canned in natural juices (and not in sugary syrups), are excellent for us, and taste delicious, too. Instead of cutting out dessert entirely, enjoy a crunchy, sweet red apple or a cup of natural pineapple chunks instead.” I nodded and Mrs. Rich continued. “When you’re craving something sweet, cut into a bright orange, dripping with juice. Instead of forcing toxins, chemicals and dangerous ingredients into your body, fill it up with the natural sweetness that fills the world. Be creative! Think of cubed cantaloupe, fresh cherries, ripe pears and tart, luscious kiwis. Each one contains different vitamins and minerals that make us healthier and feel great! And they’re delicious, too!”

My mouth was watering at Mrs. Rich’s vivid descriptions. She made each fruit sound so attractive and appealing. I also liked that instead of focusing on all the treats and things we had to stop eating, she kept reminding me of all the new and delectable treats waiting for me. Which wouldn’t only make my mouth happy, they’d make the rest of my body healthy, too.