Thursday, March 30, 2023

“Why doesn’t he think like me?”

“How can she not see that she’s wrong?”

“How can they be happy living like that?”

I’m sure you or someone you know may have had thoughts like these at one time or another. I’m sure it’s only natural. After all, we must all believe in our own actions if we are to be content within our own skin. But if our actions are the “right” actions, shouldn’t everyone think and act similarly, or, at the very least, understand your point of view?

Closer to home, in our own communities, sentiments such as “they’ve totally misrepresented what Judaism is all about” or “we can’t associate with them because they’re [not frum enough/too stringent]” are, unfortunately, not unheard of. In my opinion, this mindset is an inbred disease that affects most Jewish communities around the world, to a lesser or greater degree. I also believe that this mentality, if left unchecked, will ultimately destroy us, tearing our religion apart from the inside out.

But enough of that. Let’s get back to talking about one of my favorite topics—food—and the title of this article. How on earth can your neighbor have anything to do with the food you eat? Perhaps more than you think…

I’m sure you’ve heard the terms bandied around—carbs, fats, protein—and the multitude of arguments and discussions regarding which ones you should consume more of and which ones you should try and reduce. But what exactly are they, and is “going low carb” or eating “reduced fat” foods really as healthy for you as the media and food companies might have you believe?

Some background. There are six classes of nutrients: carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water.

CARBOHYDRATES (aka “carbs”) comprise molecules containing carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, i.e., “sugars.” Specifically, there are three types of carbohydrates: simple sugars (such as fruits), starches (such as potatoes and bread), and celluloses or fibrous (such as lettuce—yes, vegetables are carbs). Carbs are the preferred fuel for the body.

PROTEINS are complex compounds that are made of different amino acids, which uniquely contain nitrogen, and are the building blocks of our body.

FATS, comprising molecules called triglycerides, are solid at room temperature (fats that are liquid at room temperature are called oils), and provide insulation from extreme temperatures, as well as carry nutrients such as fat-soluble vitamins around the body (see below).

Carbs, proteins, and fats are known as “macronutrients” because they comprise the classes of chemical compounds humans consume in the largest quantities and which provide bulk energy.  There are also “micronutrients,” including VITAMINS (substances that help essential body reactions take place, and include water-soluble and fat-soluble varieties) and MINERALS (inorganic substances that are involved in water balance, nerve impulse stimulation, acid-base balance, and energy reactions).

Finally, WATER carries nutrients to cells and carries waste products away from cells. It also serves as a body lubricant and, through sweat (or “perspiration” if you’re more genteel), helps maintain body temperature.

Of course, these six nutrients do far more than the above brief outline, and each will be discussed more thoroughly in future articles, but the important concept to internalize here is that we all need each of these nutrients to survive; no one nutrient is more important than the other. Indeed, too much or too little of any single nutrient increases the risk of health and/or performance complications.

In short, any extreme is a bad extreme, and one should never totally eliminate any nutrient from your diet. The best strategy for maintaining a healthy nutrient balance is to eat a wide variety of foods, regularly consume fresh fruits and vegetables, and avoid a monotonous intake of the same few foods day after day. This will ensure optimal nutrient exposure, and avoid potential nutrient toxicities that may result from an excess consumption of vitamins and/or minerals. Although a little of something may be good for you, it does not necessarily mean that more is better. No single food has all the nutrients a person needs to stay healthy, so consuming a plethora of foods covers all departments.

I think you can see where I’m going with this. Hashem could have just as easily created a single food that would supply us with all the nutrients we need, rather than have us scavenge around looking for many different types of food. Of course, while we were a fledgling nation in the desert, He did exactly that, in the form of manna. Alas, we all must leave the nest at some point in our development, as did the Bnai Yisrael. We all must come to realize that life is not about the singular answer, but about appreciating the amazing variety that Hashem has graciously provided us. This is true of both the foods we eat, and the people we meet. Every person, by mere virtue of his presence in this world, fulfills Hashem’s desire in some way, whether that reason is known to you or not. Perhaps, instead of denigrating these “others,” we should make a more concerted effort to try and understand them, and, conceivably, come to realize their importance in the world too.

Just as we should try and eat a variety of foods in moderation, eat with respect and consideration—and always eat with appreciation—so, too, should we treat our fellow human beings, prizing each of our differences instead of quelling them. Food is so much more than something that merely sustains us, and society is so much more than something that merely retains us. Be a “light unto the nations” —illuminate them as well as ourselves.

Chemmie Sokolic is an ACSM-certified Personal Trainer, and owner of Frum & Fit LLC. Chemmie can be reached at [email protected] Visit www.FrumandFit.com or www.Facebook.com/FrumandFit for more information.

By Chemmie Sokolic

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