The Jewish community seems to be in real nutritional danger. This is not danger from those who seek to destroy us. We have become a serious danger to ourselves.

The Jewish calendar is filled with beautiful holidays almost every two months, each which is celebrated with elaborate meals. Yet somehow, we have failed to understand that while we should definitely eat and be joyous, we have a responsibility to eat properly and take care of ourselves. Taking care of ourselves is a Torah commandment. It is an obligation that is incumbent upon us. Eating jelly donuts during Chanukah or cheesecake during Shavuot is customary, but never at the expense of our health. We need to learn the right balance between celebrating yet not over-indulging.

We have a responsibility to eat properly and take care of ourselvesThe American Diabetes Association (ADA) recently reported that deaths due to poor diet and physical inactivity rose by 33 percent over the past decade and may soon overtake tobacco as the leading preventable cause of death. There has been a great increase in the incidence of type 2 diabetes, with the age of onset getting younger all the time.

The ADA says that approximately 64 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, and Americans are growing heavier every year. Obesity is the leading controllable risk factor for type 2 diabetes, which makes it no surprise that the rate of type 2 diabetes is increasing as well.

Being overweight may also increase the likelihood of developing other diabetes health-related conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, and some types of cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the incidence of diabetes and diabetes health-related conditions has jumped nearly 50 percent in the past 10 years and is expected to increase another 165 percent by 2050 if it keeps up at the same rate. Results from the CDC's Diabetes Prevention Program showed that a person at high risk for developing diabetes could delay or prevent its onset by almost 60 percent over a 3-year period by losing initially only 10-15 percent of his or her weight and exercising 30 minutes a day, at least 5 times a week. Furthermore, even modest weight loss for an overweight person with type 2 diabetes can improve his or her blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

About 15 percent of children today are overweight. That's 4 times as many as there were 30 years ago. The numbers are stunning, but the trend can be reversed. The ADA has also reported the findings of a study which found that over half the eighth grade children surveyed in America had one or more health problems – such as overweight, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and blood glucose abnormalities that put them at high risk for diabetes and premature cardiovascular disease. The Jewish Diabetes Association (JDA) recently reported that in Israel, where there is the largest concentration of Jewish people with statistics there has been an almost 70% increase of diagnosed diabetes in the past four years bringing the reported cases to over one million people with an estimated 800,000 with pre-diabetes or undiagnosed diabetes. This is a frightening example for the Jewish community worldwide.


Children and Obesity

One-third of the mothers and half the fathers of these children, who were themselves either overweight or obese, rated their own size as "about right." And one-third of the obese girls and half of the obese boys also were rated by their parents as "about right." In addition, a British study found that most parents of obese children were unaware that their children's weight was above normal. This means that what a large portion of the general public may consider to be normal weight is seen by the medical community as hazardous. As a service to our children and ourselves, we must increase our awareness and knowledge in order to start making major changes.

It's really okay for kids not to clean their platesFirst, no-carb diets are not good for kids. They need good carbs such as whole grains, certain cereals, most fruits, vegetables and dairy products in the right amounts – combined with the correct amount of protein, fat and fiber. Kids should be avoiding foods that contain large quantities of sugar, salt and hydrogenated oil. They provide nothing but empty calories and teach kids to prefer sweeter, higher fat foods. Don't let them eat while they are reading or sitting in front of the computer, as they will almost always end up consuming more than they should.

Second, forget what your mother told you – it's really okay for kids not to clean their plates. Knowing when to stop eating is an important skill in weight management. Don't tell them about the kids that are starving in Africa – one day mothers in Africa will be telling their kids about the children in the West who are eating themselves sick!

Third, keep them moving. They don't burn many calories sitting in front of a computer or reading. Most babies are active on their own, but as kids get older, they'll most likely look to you for guidance. If you stay fit, you will be setting an example that lasts a lifetime.

We often find ourselves worrying more about our children than ourselves, but we really should make healthy choices for our own good. Children tend to eat whatever is available and to copy what adults do. If you are always grabbing the "fast food" choices, your children most likely will do the same.

Although some of these foods are truly convenient, we can easily get into the habit of having healthier "grabs" on hand, with preparation and a little forethought. Having a family is a commitment for life. We are well aware of our responsibility to pass on to our children our values and beliefs. But it's also our duty to teach them, through our example, the lessons of healthy eating. Since so much of our family life revolves around food, let's make sure that our kids are getting a healthy message!


Losing Weight the Healthy Way

Living a healthy lifestyle is about finding balance. Learning where and how to trim can make a difference in one's attitude. Here's a point that bears repeating: Slow and steady weight loss is long-term weight loss. While it's tempting to try to shed the pounds in a matter of days or weeks, losing weight too quickly can be self-defeating. When you lose too fast, you often end up rebounding to a weight that is higher than when you started out. Have you ever wondered why?

Yo-yo dieters have a hard time keeping the weight offRapid weight loss can lead to a loss of lean muscle mass in addition to fat. When you lose muscle, you decrease your metabolic rate (the number of calories you burn while sleeping). A decrease in metabolic rate can make it harder to lose the pounds that you gain when you occasionally fall off the diet wagon. Also, when you put some weight back on, you'll be tempted to find another quick diet fix – a phenomenon called yo-yo dieting. Yo-yo dieters have a hard time keeping the weight off, and recent studies have found that doing this is also extremely unhealthy and hard on the cardiovascular system.

Fat cells, once born, never die. When you lose weight rapidly, they starve and grab up whatever they can find. You need to train your body to adjust slowly. This way, you'll have a better chance of keeping the weight off. After you have been eating healthily for a while, your weight might reach a plateau and sit there for a while. When this happens, the worst thing you can do is get discouraged.

If your regimen is combined with exercise, you may be losing inches and gaining muscle (which weighs more than fat). At this point, your health-care professional can suggest different ways to get your weight moving in the right direction again. Remember, it took you years to put the weight on – it's not going to disappear overnight.

Presented here is an introduction to some of the options available for anyone who must lower his carbohydrate and/or fat consumption. Together with a nutritionist or health-care team, you will choose what's best for you.

Educate yourself. Use your common sense. Any regimen that restricts entire food groups or foods that you know are good for you (such as fruits, vegetables or whole grains) should raise a red flag. For those of you who are trying to lose weight, remember that most fad diets create some kind of nutritional deficit.

This will lead to weight loss, but what price will you pay and how long will it last? Stick with regimens that safely reduce your weight to a reasonable level, don't leave you starving, and are easy to maintain.

Try and create a realistic, healthy regimen for yourself Again, choose moderation. Carbs aren't bad. Fat isn't bad. Protein isn't bad. But too much of these can lead to weight gain and/or hinder weight loss! Lack of certain nutrients can be detrimental as well. Under the right guidance, try and create a realistic, healthy regimen for yourself that you can follow. One of the strongest indications of whether or not a regimen is for you is to realistically assess how long you can keep it up. If you cannot follow it long term, forget it. You will end up regaining all the pounds that you worked so hard to shed and undo all the health benefits you began to see.

What small changes can you make for a healthier lifestyle? You probably want safe, lasting weight reduction or maintenance. However, remember that you are looking for a better lifestyle, not simply a diet. A diet is usually something temporary; and if you look at it as temporary, you are bound to slip back into your old, less healthy lifestyle once you have reached your weight goal.

Finding ways to burn fat can sometimes seem daunting. Use this chart to find simple easy ways of burning carbs—the best way to burn fat.

Carbohydrate/Exercise Chart

Amount of carbs burned per 1 hour of activity per body weight

Activity

100 lbs.

150 lbs.

200 lbs.

Baseball

25

38

50

Bicycling- 6 mph

20

27

34

10 mph

35

48

61

14 mph

60

83

105

18 mph

95

130

165

20 mph

122

168

214

Dancing - moderate

17

25

33

vigorous

28

43

57

Football

45

67

89

Golf

23

35

46

Handball

59

88

117

Jump rope 80/min

73

109

145

Mopping

16

23

30

Raking leaves

19

28

38

Running – 5 mph

45

68

90

8 mph

96

145

190

10 mph

126

189

252

Shoveling

31

45

57

Skating - moderate

25

34

43

vigorous

67

92

117

Swimming slow crawl

41

56

71

fast crawl

69

95

121

Tennis - moderate

28

41

55

vigorous

59

88

117

Walking – 3 mph

15

22

29

4.5 mph

30

45

59

Since eating too much and/or eating the wrong kinds of carbs and fats are the main cause of obesity today, a complete overview will be presented over the following weeks. The goal is to combine traditional lifestyle with healthy lifestyle without feeling deprived and finding the right balance for both emotional and physical fulfillment.