Eat Little

[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Vayetze 5771 – translated by R. Blumberg]

Question: I eat without end although I am not hungry. I tried a diet and it didn’t help, because I eat obsessively. I want to stop but I don’t succeed, and my weight increases from day to day.
Answer: You’re not alone. It’s a pervasive plague. There are a billion people on earth who weigh too much (by the way, a similar number of people are undernourished, and each day 25,000 die of hunger). 350 million overeaters are classed as having an eating disorder. Money spent on abnormal overeating in the U.S. each day equals 250 million dollars. Daily expenditures in the U.S. on various weight-lowering programs equal 110 million dollars. Overeating really is a plague. In Israel, 39% of people are overweight. Of these, 60% are adults, 20% are boys and 19% are girls.
Obesity can cause heart problems and many other illnesses, and the reason is simple: The body is taking in more calories than it is burning off. The cure is thus simple: Don’t eat fattening foods. Don’t eat sweet foods like chocolate, cake or sweets, or fatty milk products. Break out of the cycle of overeating: Taking in calories creates a need. It’s not real hunger
but artificial hunger.
And what is the ultimate cause of that uncontrollable desire to eat? There are various causes: psychological factors, loneliness, sadness, or depression, as well as hormonal irregularities and imprecise functioning of the brain, indicating, only after a delay, that a person is already sated, thus leaving an inaccurate feeling of hunger. In any event, the solution is not crash diets that require strong discipline and a great effort, but which generally fail. Rather, a different approach is needed.

Various Strategies
1. Eat a good breakfast, which our sages called “Pat Shacharit” -- one’s “morning bread”.
2. Eat a meal once every three hours, so that one will not be hungry and will not attack the food. Such was the custom of Jews from Germany, and it is linked to their custom of waiting three hours between meat and milk. Then, that three-hour habit will become second nature.
3. Prepare yourself something healthy in your bag in case you feel hungry during the day, like a piece of fruit, a vegetable, or a healthy cracker.
4. Prepare yourself healthy, tasty food at home with which to start your meal, like salad or vegetable soup.
5. Avoid fast food. Usually it’s not healthy.
6. Don’t drink sweet drinks.
7. If you slip, make amends quickly. Keep matters in hand. If someone makes a mistake and suffers for it, should he then make the same mistake and suffer more?
8. If there is healthy food on the table, wait ten minutes before eating so as overcome the strong desire to eat it. It’s like the Chinese saying: Who is brave? He who eats one peanut.” Rabbenu Yona of Gerundi wrote in his book, “Yesod HaTeshuva” in the name of Ra’avad, that in serving G-d one should harness one’s resolve and forego one delicious food every meal. I only said that one should wait.
9. Don’t store unhealthy food at home. We don’t house terrorists.
10. Sometimes a person thinks he is hungry when he is really only thirsty. Watch out for that.
11. Eat enough food to satisfy yourself and wait twenty minutes. That’s how long it takes for the brain to relay the message that you’re satisfied. It’s the time it takes to walk a kilometer.
12. Do a half hour of physical exercise each day. That, too, will take off a bit of weight, but
the main thing is that it’s very healthy.
13. Before participating in a large banquet, decide precisely what you are going to eat. It’s
like the instructions a soldier receives before battle.
14. Enlist family support and the supervision of another human being.

Deriving Blessing from Eating Less
Here’s a rule of thumb. The Torah says, “Eat your fill” (Vayikra 25:19), and Rashi comments, quoting Torat Kohanim, that this refers to “eating little and finding blessing in it.” Eat daintily. “One shouldn’t eat voraciously, but the way one eats before a king, for a blessing only rests on one who does not eat voraciously… as when Esau said, ‘Pour that red, red stuff down my throat’ (Bereshit 25:30). Just as the ministering angels eat in holiness and purity, so should Israel” (Torat Kohanim 25).

Turn to Overeaters Anonymous
If all the above advice doesn’t help, turn to Overeaters Anonymous (O.A.). O.A. was founded 50 years ago (5720) to help people with an obsessive, uncontrollable urge to eat, by way of a twelve-stage program. (The same that was used by Alcoholics Anonymous, but with several differences). It includes a personalized program, and treats the various causes of overeating, such as emotional disappointment. They take no medical steps (In case of need, go to a dietician), but work on the person to change himself internally. In Israel there are 130 groups that hold weekly meetings, and such meetings work on a principle of changing one’s character. This approach is both free, and the most beneficial. Call the national hotline at 03-
5745799, or check out: OA-ISRAEL.ORG

See a slimmer you soon.