Getting Started

October 29, 2020

Let me introduce myself and give context to what you will see here.
I have been working and studying in the field of nutrition for over 10 years, and am now a Registered Dietitian. I became interested in nutrition and health as a teenager, who was slightly overweight. What I learned as a kid trying to lose weight and look like everyone else, was that I was missing an understanding of health and how what we eat is more than just about being skinny or having the “instagram perfect body”, it’s about building a positive relationship with our body, our food, and understanding how what we eat has the power to impact not only our own health, but the plant’s health, and the health of society.
My goal here is to share recipes and thoughts, as well as my expertise on food and health. I have learned a lot on my journey to a healthier, sustainable lifestyle about loving what you eat and what you look like. I hope to be able to educate and inspire others to enjoy their food again!

I am often confronted with questions like “I eat white rice and white pasta, is that okay?” or “what do you think of juicing?”. And my answers always start with “it depends…” I can’t even imagine how frustrating that answer is. I know that people are looking for a straightforward, “yes or no” answer, or a “good or bad” answer. But that is mostly not how it works.
This feels relevant to mention around this time of year. It is the season of Jewish Holidays as well as my birthday, and it is usually the time of year that I reconnect with many of my friends and family after the summer. Not only is food a staple part of the Fall season (apples and pumpkins galore!) but it is the season of celebrations in Jewish culture full of big meals and hearty menus. And with Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, not too far away, I find food and diet questions pop up more than usual in the Fall.
Asking questions about food and diet is not fruitless (pun intended!). It is a good place to start, and it signifies that someone is at least curious about what they are putting in their bodies for sustenance. And before moving forward, I want to emphasize that our diets should not be confusing or full of restrictive rules. We should love what we eat and look forward to our meals and snacks. So instead of asking questions like “is this food good or bad?”, we could be asking “where does this fit into my diet?”, because it is a food that I like and I want to keep eating it. Simply reframing a question can lead to more optimistic and rewarding discourse around food.
Here’s my question for today: How can I partake fully in celebrations that come at this time of year and all of the delicious goodies in Autumn without sacrificing health?

  • When we know our day or week is going to include a large meal or meals, or our day is going to end with a bucket full of candy, we can plan ahead. I don’t mean meal planning. I mean balance. Typically we may eat 3 meals a day or 5 small meals, and they are usually balanced out in size. But if we know that one of those will be larger in size than usual, we can plan for it. When the time comes to face the impending large meal or bucket of candy, it’s prudent not to deprive yourself of something you want – this may lead to poor results later – instead, try eating a smaller portion just to satisfy the taste you are craving. Become a mindful eater. Don’t eat on impulse or on emotion. Research shows that eating slowly or simply paying attention to what we put on our plates, is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
  • It’s tough to plan a menu. I know I tend to get writer’s block just as I am being asked to plan a meal….great timing. But the best part of autumn is all the wonderful produce in season during this time, making it fun and exciting to eat what nature is asking us to. Explore your local farmer’s market, the pumpkin, squash, apples, colorful potatoes, brussel sprouts, and more! As the growing season comes to a close, so do some farmer’s markets. But that does not mean we need to resort to the supermarket. We can still choose to eat from local sources by joining a CSA or finding local grocers or buying farm boxes from restaurants and online grocers. Being conscious of the environmental impact our food system has on biodiversity, pollution, water and land use, and soil degradation can be reflected in what we choose to eat.
  • I recently read an article in the NY Times, by Peter Wells, about the uptick in dining out as we have been able to return to restaurants, indoors and outdoors. The article emphasizes how we need to remember and be conscious of all the people that work to make that possible. We tend to take for granted the privilege of eating in a restaurant, and the pandemic made us wake up to this privilege. Not only are staff taking risks to be there as servers and cooks, but they are also providing an essential service to give us a sense of normalcy in difficult times. A healthy society is about respecting and appreciating those around us, in all circumstances. We are coming up on the season of thanks and for those in the Jewish community we are beginning a new year, turning over a new leaf, so when it comes to where we eat, how we eat, and who makes that possible, pay attention and be grateful.