One woman’s journey away from the world of diets…to the world of mindful, wholesome eating.

By Malky Jacobs

Diet. We either cringe when we hear the word, binge from the stress of it, or push ourselves enthusiastically into yet another attempt at weight loss.

I ditched the word “diet” from my vocabulary a long time ago. Not because I’m thin—I’m not, but because I’m done with the negative side effects of dieting.

Here’s some background on me: I always was a chunkier kid. I probably wasn’t really overweight at the time, but a little bigger than my peers. My mother never said anything about my weight or figure…but she did complain about shopping. Oh, but she hated to shop even with my “thin” sisters. My grandmother, on the other hand, would constantly tell me to lose just a few pounds. (When we speak nowadays, my weight is one of the first things she asks about. And she’s not young anymore.)

My mother was the typical health-nut parent. When I was a kid there weren’t many of those kind of parents. There were no gluten-free fads, or clean-eating talk…but my mother was one of the first. I didn’t like it as a kid, but today I see the foundation of knowledge she gave me.

After I got married and before I had my first baby, I gained 60 pounds, and then another 50 or so during my first pregnancy. I had my baby, didn’t lose the weight, got pregnant again, and gained more. I was way over 200 pounds before I even blinked.

So my dieting saga began. I tried all diets. Lost, gained, lost, got pregnant, gained, gained some more, lost some, gained even more. The cycle never stopped.

And then Hashem opened my eyes and He taught me a thing or two. We went through a health crisis and I had to become an educated nutritionist overnight. Here is where my mother’s chinuch kicked in and I realized how grateful I am for the things I hated (don’t we all end up becoming like our moms?). I researched, read, experimented and came to a realization that really gave me so much clarity and freedom. I realized that as long as I feed my body with nutritious food, in a wholesome way, I can feel good.

The work is to become a wholesome, mindful eater. To be able to make smart wholesome and mindful choices, we first need to have the knowledge of our choices.

The information I am putting out here is what I’ve learned through the years. I am not a certified nutritionist, doctor or nurse.

 

What is wholesome food?

We need all food groups, proteins, healthy fats, whole starches, fruits and veggies. The less ‘processed’ the food is, the more nutrients it’ll have.

Proteins: eggs, fish, poultry, meat, cheese

Healthy fats: olive oil (not heated—I use spray oil for cooking, light olive oil for baking and extra virgin olive oil in salads) avocado, nuts, and seeds (and in butter form) and whole milk (or milchigs).

Whole starches: whole grains, rice, quinoa, buckwheat…and starchy vegetables, potatoes all kinds, corn, squashes (like butternut, acorn, spaghetti).

Fruits: Try different ones for a range of nutrients.

Vegetables: Keep trying those interesting ones you see in the grocery and Costco.

 

Some points:

*Healthy fats won’t make you fat, just like red tomatoes do not make you red (as read in a book I read by Dr Richard Goldstein).

*Don’t take away a food group or food type because you think it might make you fat (unless you have to do that for medical reasons). Keep in moderation.

*Fruits and veggies have a ton of nutrients. Fruits have a high sugar content, healthy sugars, but sugar nontheless. So if you are a healthy person, you should be able to handle that, but if you’re battling something like diabetes then fruits aren’t good for you.

*Check serving sizes. Get used to eating ONE serving! If you are still hungry take a second serving but be aware you are doing that.

*Things that are bad for you are chemicals, preservatives, coloring, artificial flavors etc. Try to avoid that!

*Sit down when you eat. Do you say that to your kids all the time? Well, time to tell it to yourself and listen to yourself.

*Start your day with drinking water (have your coffee a bit later) and keep drinking when you are thirsty.

How My Cooking Has Changed

*I prepare a full supper every single day.  I don’t buy ready-made or frozen food; we don’t eat out regularly. When we do eat out (1-2 times a year), it’s at a restaurant that has fresh food, not take out or pizza shops.

*I make a soup in the beginning of the week that lasts for that week. I then make a protein, veggie side dish, whole starch (no pasta) side dish and sometimes a salad, depending on the weather.

*I try to treat myself the way I treat my husband (friend/guest). I am worth is at least as much. We don’t get an award for “Most meals skipped because I’m such a busy mom.” No reason to be a martyr. Have breakfast by the table, enjoy it, bench, move on to your next task.

 

My Typical Day

 

7-7:30 a.m. Wake up. Drink water. Prepare breakfast for the kids (eggs or plain Greek yogurt with fruit).

8:15 a.m. Kids leave. Mom eats breakfast when it’s quiet (just baby and me). Coffee, yogurt, and fruit.

11ish. I have a snack. An apple with a tablespoon of almond butter is very typical for me. Or a handful of pecans with other fruit.

1:30-2:00 is lunch. Fresh eggs, lox, tuna, cheese with rice cakes, sourdough bread, or quinoa along with a salad or cut-up veggies. If I’m too busy to prep I’ll make a pizza from 1 slice sourdough bread (I buy the Bread Alone bread that I’ve have found it in many health food stores. It has the Kaf K hechsher), 1 tablespoon tomato paste made from tomatoes only, spices, and cheddar, mozzarella, or Muenster cheese. Broil it and it’s easy to eat quickly.

A midday snack can be fruit again, cut up veggies, or nuts. Or a combination of these.

6:00 p.m. or around then is suppertime. For protein, I have either baked chicken bottoms, broiled cutlets with a sauce, chicken or meat patties or sloppy Joes, or fish. I’ll stir-fry or broil the veggie (all kinds, such as string beands, mushrooms, cauliflower, etc.) My starch will be quinoa, a baked sweet potato, or spaghetti squash.

 

We don’t have dessert. On Shabbos, at most, we sometimes have apple compote or fresh fruit. Later in the evening I like to have a tea with a piece of chocolate or two.

 

Then There’s Life

This is how a perfect day looks for me. There are all types of days and some meals don’t end up being as wholesome or as mindful. And that’s ok. Life happens and we have simchas where lots of goodies are served. It is ok to have some, just know what you are eating and why you’re eating (social eating, cravings, can’t say no to host, emotional eating, etc.). Make a bracha, enjoy and bench. This is called mindful. You will automatically eat better. You will lose or gain weight. But you will feel good.

I keep a log of what I eat to stay mindful and accountable to myself.

Am I thin? No. But I know I’m healthy. I feel good, I look good. Those are the things that are important for me right now.

 

9 COMMENTS

  1. Kudos to you! This is a great article and I look forward to reading more from you. I have a very similar mindset and outlook but I’m definitely not as “good” as you are.

  2. Thanks for this great article! Everything your write makes perfect sense, except for that you’re not thin. Living on the kind of diet that you describe should help you get rid of all excess body fat, whether you’re conscious of it or not. (I’ve done it too.) Can you please clarify? Thanks!

  3. Thank you for responding and asking for clarification.
    This way of eating feeds our body and lets our body settle at its comfortable weight. Thin is what today’s generation decided is the ‘right’ body shape, but the truth is, not all bodies are meant to be thin. Just like babies are all different sizes with mostly on the same optimal ‘diet’ (mother’s milk or formula), so too our mature bodies are meant to be different shapes and sizes.

  4. Dina, while I can’t answer for the author as I don’t know enough about her experience I can tell you about mine.

    I have been eschewing sugar and wheat for about 8 months, have been eating well and working out with a personal trainer once a week for almost a year now. And I went down 1 size. One! That only happened a few weeks ago. Lest you think I’m now thin I will tell you that even after going down one size I still need to shop in the plus size department.

    There are all different types of bodies out there. The ones we read about and are probably most usual or typical are the ones like yours that respond by the book and release weight when fed properly. Then there are bodies like mine. The ones that hold onto every ounce no matter what.

    I know it seems unlikely to most and unbelievable to many. This is part of what makes this whole journey so frustrating. Even those who are nearest and dearest to me are surprised when they see what I eat and how careful I am to eat right.
    Just to preempt the inevitable questions I will tell you that yes my thyroid is fine bH. All my systems are in perfect order according to every doctor hodu l’Hashem.

    We have to realize and accept that there is so much more to a large body than just too much food or the wrong foods for many people. How else would you explain the people who have not a clue about proper nutrition, who eat gushers to their hearts’ content and chocolate spread in a regular breakfast staple, and still are ramrod thin?

  5. Mrs S. I totally understand you! You are doing what is best for you and your body. Don’t get frustrated, your body is doing what it’s meant to do. It might shed more weight, it might not… Keep eating well and feeling well. Like you said all systems are in perfect order BH! What a gift from Hashem!! Embrace yourself and your body. You will find new joy Bez”H!

  6. Malky and Mrs. S., thank you for your enlightening responses. I give you a lot of credit for doing what you’re doing and for having the clarity to do what’s right for your body despite the lack of scale rewards. In this realm, you are definitely unique because most people I know wouldn’t have the stamina to keep going without seeing weight loss results. Kol hakavod to you!

  7. great post! and comments!
    I’m on a very similar food plan for about 2 years and i feel great boruch hashem. I’ve gone through pregnancy, gained weight and slid off pretty fast.

  8. Thank you Malky and Dina. Most days what keeps me going is the simple fact that I feel so much better when I eat right!

    In fact, this is what motivated me to take on this type of plan in the first place. I always dreamed of having a warm and happy home with lots of love and laughter but I found myself snapping at my kids for the slightest disturbance (read kids being kids) and hated myself for it! Now I see a tremendous difference b’chasdei Hashem. I’m so grateful to Hashem for showing me the way to fulfill my dream. Making the right food choices is a really big part of it.

    My head also feels more clear and somehow I feel more *alive*. It’s even easier for me to get out of bed in the morning!

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