Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Previously: Another session at the nutirtionist brings more of a focus on healthy eating and exercise.

* * * * *


A soft circle of light glowed under my bedside lamp. I snuggled deeper under my warm blanket and turned the page in my book. A deep, contented feeling filled my lungs as I took in a deep breath.

The last week had been better, overall. I was still being teased at school, but I’d gotten a great mark on a Navi test which really pleased everyone, and Abba had purchased two second-hand exercise bikes. My siblings were all excited about them, and even though Abba promised everyone could have a turn, he let me choose what time of day I wanted to use them first. For a second I had flushed at being singled out, but then I realized the others weren’t smirking – they actually looked jealous of me! I guess this whole thing has some perks, after all!

Abba and I decided that we’d each get up half an hour earlier than usual and work out for 20 minutes every morning. I was supposed to exercise for longer, but my parents agreed that we should start with 20 minutes and increase the sessions gradually. After the first morning I was glad; 20 minutes on the bike was hard! It was wonderful to have that extra time with Abba, though. We’d learned that we should be working hard enough to be able to talk, but not to sing. So we used that as our guideline, chatting as we pedaled and trying to sing a few bars of varied shabbos zemiros together. When we were able to sing, we sped up, and when we found it hard to talk, we slowed down. I found the time went much, much faster with Abba at my side. Best of all, he seemed to feel good about it, too.

In terms of the food, things weren’t going quite as well. Mrs. Rich had used the laminated place-mat with the circle – which was supposed to be a plate – to show Mommy how to plan our meals. Half the plate was supposed to be vegetables! She told us that any veggies counted, but that she would prefer to see Mommy using fresh veggies, like diced into a salad, or grilled or baked. That was an awful lot of vegetables, though. Luckily, I don’t dislike vegetables; I just prefer other foods. Could Mrs. Rich be right that I could really learn to enjoy crunchy, juicy red peppers instead of chips, though? She explained that vegetables are filled with vitamins, with iron that would give me strength, and antioxidants. She encouraged me to choose brightly colored, fresh, sweet vegetables to start with (and not force myself to eat asparagus).

The other two quarters of the plate were for protein and carbohydrates. Protein was things like chicken, fish, meat, and (people eat that stuff???) tofu. Carbohydrates, it turned out, were the real food, things like bread, rice and pasta. And shocker of shockers: regular white potatoes – as in baked or mashed or however your mother serves them – are not considered a vegetable. They are considered a carbohydrate! I looked at that small, yellow quarter of the plate and squeaked, “That’s how much of my plate can be pasta?” Mommy looked flabbergasted, too. I mean, when she makes baked ziti or noodle casserole or spaghetti and meatballs, we all pile on the noodles, mound them up on our plate…and I have seconds.

So Mommy was having a hard time with dinners. Whereas in the past she’d always serve up dollops of mashed potatoes and meat sauce (or chicken or patties or whatever), now she really was trying to make our plates look like the placemat at Mrs. Rich’s. Now, don’t get me wrong – her new vegetable dishes actually are yummy, but…it’s been very different at our house the last few days.

And don’t think for a second that my siblings are letting me get away with it.

“Grilled zucchini?!” Yaeli shouted when she came to supper last night. Eliezer and Chaim protested loudly, as well. Miri didn’t say anything (she thinks she’s too mature to complain), but she sat down unhappily and stared at her plate.

Abba tried to make the best of it. “Thank you so much for a delicious, healthy supper, Mommy!” he exclaimed loudly. He looked down at his miniscule helpings of rice and stir-fried chicken, and the heap of grilled zucchini, onion and yellow and red pepper strips. “This looks great!” he beamed at Mommy from across the table. She smiled back wanly. I secretly began to plot what I’d supplement my dinner with when the table had been cleared. There were some new packages of crackers, I knew, and they’d go nicely dipped in jar of salsa I’d spotted in the pantry. Wasn’t salsa a vegetable, too? I wrinkled my nose, thinking. Didn’t they make it with tomatoes and hot peppers?

“Shevi!” Mommy barked. “Please don’t wrinkle your nose at the dinner I worked hard to prepare!”

“Sorry, Mommy.” I looked around guiltily. It wasn’t worth trying to explain. Then I picked up my fork. Might as well enjoy my dinner.

To be continued…


Share this article on WhatsApp:

Previous articleDear Dr. Yael
Next articleCookbooks, Cookbooks, Everywhere!!
Chaya Rosen is the author of two poetry compilations, Streaming Light and Scattered Stones.