Archive for the 'Body Image' Category

One Step at a Time

This entry is cross-posted at

Last week, Gene [not his real name] the computer guy showed up at my office for the first time in a while.  Right away, I knew something had changed.  I said, Gene, how are you? You’re looking very well!   He responded with an uncharacteristic grin, and answered by telling me one thing all of us know, but few believe (despite numerous confirmatory personal experiences!).   I sat up fast when he said,  Diets don’t work.

New Podcast – RideCast Special

Happy Rider

Check out this new special Ride Edition Podcast! If you haven’t heard, Hazon is allocating funds raised from the Bay Area Ride a bit differently than past rides. It’s pretty exciting and really putting the power in the hands (or cycles) of Ride participants, who will get to decide where to allocate the funds they raise.
Also, if you didn’t hear about last year’s NY Ride engagement story, Marc tells us what he was thinking the day he proposed on the Ride.

Check it all out by clicking here!

Keeping Fit: What Kashrut Taught me About Mindful Eating

Thanks to Kate McQuown Budabin for this guest post; Kate is a professional story teller specializing in Jewish-themed story times for young children. She lives in New York City (and, full disclosure, is our editorial intern’s mom).


One day when I was twelve, I toasted a slice of bread over the gas flame on a pancake turner, buttered it, spooned on a layer of cinnamon sugar to melt into it, went to heaven while I gobbled it down, and returned to earth to make another … and another… and another…until the loaf was gone. Fifty years later, I can still taste that gritty richness.

My whole life I’ve been an appreciative and melodramatic eater. When I was 26, I nibbled my way through a tureen of 40 mussels after a hearty lunch. At 29 and pregnant, my regular lunch involved two sandwiches, a bag of carrot sticks, an apple, an orange, a bran muffin or a couple of oatmeal raisin cookies with extra bran, and a little box of raisins—I knew I needed lots of iron! Cooking was an act of love, and eating was an act of pleasure. Not eating felt like denying myself love – not moderation, but deprivation. I feel similarly about eating food that’s just adequate – why waste a meal? And I refuse to eat anything that actually tastes bad to me, whatever the supposed health benefits.

Then, at 40, after two years of intense thought and preparation, I went to the mikveh, where I became a Jew moments before our children. Soon after, I began carting boxes of pots and bags of silverware to the keilim mikveh, part of making my kitchen kosher. I bought different sponges for washing meat and dairy dishes. “blue for moo, and red for dead,” my husband George quipped.

“For the Sin We Have Committed:” Eating Not Just Sustainably, but Sacredly

Thanks to Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster for this guest post. Rabbi Kahn-Troster is Director of Education and Outreach for Rabbis for Human Rights North America.

In Judaism, confession is a group experience. On Yom Kippur, we stand together as a community and in one voice confess our collective sins before God. Amidst the various lists of transgressions, the Al Chet prayer contains a line that deals with sustenance: Al chet she chatanu liphanecha b’ma’achal u’mishteh, literally: “For the sin we have sinned before You through food and drink.” “Food and drink” is often translated as “gluttony,” which narrows the sin to the idea that we are confessing to having eaten more than our share, wantonly, without thinking. I think the original translation is helpful—we have committed sins through all kinds of acts of eating and drinking, but also through the way our food is produced, distributed, and wasted.

Eating at Jewish Summer Camp


Thanks to Devadeva Mirel for this guest post recounting her two and a half weeks surviving the mean girls and the dining hall food as a Jewish camper. Check out her blog and jam company Sabjimata Jam here.

My first time away from home (and in a setting without wall to wall carpet, mind you) was not one full of fond memories. It was the summer between fifth grade and puberty. My parents drove me into “The City” where I, along with the other suburban campers, rode the train from Grand Central Station to Albany. We then all climbed into a camp van which drove us even further away from home, to Young Judea’s “Tranquility Camp.”

My memories of camp are the stuff of ‘tween dramas: bodily insecurity, cruel cliques, and undergrad counselors with bandeaux tops, visible tan lines and a surprising disinterest in anything having to do with canoes or lanyards. For those two and a half weeks of my life, I felt the dull isolation of being disconnected from my friends, family and the soft cotton blankets at home.

Meal times were another source of displeasure. Comfort food for me had always meant onion bagels and Lay’s potato chips. Now comfort food basically meant anything that wasn’t beets from the dining hall. My camp had a policy where campers had to at least taste everything – a scary prospect for me. “Try it, you’ll like it” never sounded more cruel.

Nutrition for the Jewish Community


Thanks to Chana Rubin, RD for this guest post. Chana is a registered dietitian who lives in Israel with her family. She’s the author of the new book Food for the Soul: Traditional Jewish Wisdom for Healthy Eating (Gefen Publishing House Ltd, Jerusalem, 2007). Chana will be guest posting throughout the week – and keep your eyes open for a chance to win a copy of her book!

I have lived in many different Jewish communities in the U.S. and in Israel and have seen the same patterns in most of them. Obesity and the sedentary lifestyle of our communities mimic that of the community at large, with added issues of kashrut, culture, Shabbat and holidays.

Preventative nutrition and nutrition education have always been my interest. It seems to me that it is easier and more cost effective to prevent illness before it happens rather than treat it after the fact. And there are many diseases – Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, osteoporosis, to name a few, that are certainly preventable.

Many books address general nutrition, but none of them address the Jewish community in particular. Food for the Soul – Traditional Jewish Wisdom for Healthy Eating does just that. The nutrition information is universal, but tailored to our specific needs and our own food culture.

More and a recipe for Surprise Cupcakes after the jump

Macaroons and Cheese(cake)


Are Passover snacks the new bees? Chametz-free noshes seem to be disappearing everywhere without a trace. First, TamTams disappear from the shelves, and now, the NYTimes reports about a historic New York social club that recently lost its source for the perfect macaroon.

It seems that the bakery which supplied the Century club with macaroons for over half a century has gone out of business, and this article describes the remarkable search by its members for a suitable replacement. I have to say, even as someone who disdainfully associates macaroons with those awful, sticky, cloying, calorie-laden chunks that come in the vacuum-sealed can, I can’t help but admire the passion and discernment by which Century Club members are conducting their search. Here’s how they lovingly describe the perfect macaroon:

“They had just the right amount of texture. They weren’t too crispy. They weren’t too gooey. You know, they didn’t flake or break. They kind of pulled apart. I would say they sort of had a nice elasticity. They displayed a particular combination of crustiness and tensile strength.”

Mmmm…tensile strength. Good luck with that. So much for Macaroons. The cheese(cake) half of this post is after the jump…

Seasons’ Greetings and Eatings


(x-posted from Lilith)

We’ve made it to the final stretch of the “holiday season” (read: the inclusive euphemism for Christmas and New Year’s Eve). Despite Nigel’s insistence that, “no one says Merry Christmas in America” (he’s from England where supposedly everyone says Merry Christmas as if they have a tic), the holidays – and particularly Christmas – can literally be felt, regardless of one’s religious beliefs.

This phenomenon holds particularly true with food. No matter that Chanukah celebrations peaked half a month ago – holiday food is ubiquitous. From late November through New Year’s Eve, red-and-green wrapped chocolates seem to pop up out of nowhere. Alcohol, cookies, pie, and heavily salted snacks also take on “how-did-that-get-into-my-hand?” properties. And whether you spent Christmas dinner with friends or celebrated the “Jewish way” with Chinese food and a movie, holiday foods have a tendency to find their way, often in excess, into our mouths.

Body Image and My Bat-Mitzvah Video

(x-posted at Lilith

* To clear up any confusion – the picture at left is not me!  See below for details…

So, my boyfriend came to Chicago with me for Thanksgiving dinner.  Although he’s met my parents before, this was the first time he’d ever visited the town where I spent the first 18 years of my life.  Overall, the trip and meal went smoothly, but as expected there were some sticky moments. Like when my boyfriend and parents agreed it would be just the most wonderful idea to watch my bat-mitzvah video!

We gathered around the television and watched as visions of my painfully pre-teen self flashed across the screen. On the one hand, I enjoyed this trip down Jewish milestone lane. Although I’d love to forget the braces, the awkward limbs, and bad hair-cut of my adolescense, I was also proud. I enjoyed the opportunity to root for this miniature version of myself and imagine that the “little Leah” could sense the loving presence of her future self, watching as she chanted the haftorah. I also loved the way the video made my parents smile and my boyfriend say, “wow, you were really great!”

On the other hand, it turns out there’s nothing like a little backward glance to shake the foundation of your current reality.