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Fighting Food Demons with Kashrut

My first roommate nine years ago told me a secret to stop snacking at night: eat one small piece of sliced turkey. Then, as someone who keeps kosher, I wouldn’t be tempted to eat any dairy cookies or ice cream for the rest of the night. It actually worked. Another kosher diet success story was a friend who did the Atkins diet and told himself that it was another layer of kashrut. After months of dieting, he found himself 30 pounds thinner.

For the many of us who are committed to maintaining a traditional kosher home, eating nutritiously is part of keeping kosher. Unfortunately, some have missed the kosher mark by failing to commit to eating healthily. Just as there are prohibitions against eating shellfish in the laws of kashrut, there are also prohibitions against overeating and not taking care of one’s body.

Soveya, a non-profit organization founded by Baltimore-based Rabbi Eli and Zakah Glaser, provides educational and coaching services nationwide to adults and children on Jewish nutrition and wellness. The husband and wife pair started the organization after each combated their own food demons by using a Torah-based approach and philosophy to weight loss.

The organization is geared towards Orthodox Jewish families, but many of the tools can easily translate to spiritual and physical fulfillment for less traditionally observant Jews. One of the recent weekly newsletters encouraged readers to take stock of our commitment to Judaism as well as our commitment to eating well through daily review and writing down the reasons for growth and the benefits to gain from eating nutritiously.

Beth Roth, a certified health coach in West Orange, New Jersey also supports the need to incorporate spirituality into weight loss plans. She explains that as a health coach, she explores the connection between food and other life factors, known as “Primary Foods,” such as relationships, self-care and spirituality, that are integral to leading a fulfilling life. As a health coach, her goal is to help clients define a wellness plan and then incorporate spirituality into their everyday life. One of the exercises that Roth uses in her practice is a “Circle of Life”, which helps clients discover which primary foods need more attention to create balance. Roth has suggested, “If spirituality is absent from a client’s ‘Circle of Life’ then they are missing a significant part to their wellness path.”

Knowing that spirituality is so tightly connected to our own physical well being, there are many opportunities to use the food we eat to deepen our faith and in turn to make healthier choices in the kitchen. Whether we find religious fulfillment through learning Talmud or practicing yoga, it seems worthwhile to explore our own inner peace through the outer aisle.

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