The enclosed is a letter that I wrote to a dear friend that is encountering health issues due to excess weight, may they have a refuah sheleima.
I want to express my concern about your current predicament. I was myself also trapped in this downhill cycle and it was a lot of work, prayer and help from Hashem that enabled me to break out. I want to outline some things that helped me reduce my weight.
The first thing is that you have to realize that you’re fighting for your life and the life of your children. We have a solemn obligation to Hashem, ourselves and our family to control our eating habits. We have to realize that we eat only to provide nutrition for our bodies, not for the taste and for sure not as a nervous habit. Any unhealthy food that we consume or even healthy food that is not required for nutrition is the same as eating poison.
I know that it’s very hard to break an overeating habit; it’s the same as any other addiction. We have to get help from Hashem; we need to constantly ask Hashem to help us over come our deficiencies. Daven to Hashem for at least five minutes a day to develop good eating habits.
Here are some practical guidelines:
Try to cook only low fat, low sugar products for your family. If they don’t like it, that’s fine — they will eat less.
Eat five small meals a day containing low fat, low sugar products and vegetables. Whole wheat and other fiber products are greatly beneficial, since they fill you up, but don’t get digested. Eat slowly.
Sit down and write your meal times and what you’ll eat per meal. Limit the quantity as much as possible. It’s best to choose food that you don’t like too much so it’s easier to make do with less. It’s also best to have the same thing every day for four out of the five meals i.e. same thing every day for breakfast, same thing every day for lunch. For dinner you can allow some variety. Remember you’re not eating for the taste, only to give your body nutrition. If you’re tired of the food, so much the better.
Once you have eaten what you planned, don’t eat anymore even if you’re still hungry. Keep in mind that it takes twenty minutes until the mind realizes that you’ve eaten. In between meals you can snack on fruits and vegetables and drink water, nothing else. In the beginning you’ll feel hungry but eventually your body will adjust and be satisfied with less.
When you feel hungry, don’t panic. It’s not dangerous. Overeating is. You know that you already provided your body with the required nutrition. You can tell yourself that the hunger feeling is the sensation of loosing weight, and its ok. Anyway, your next meal is coming up soon.
After a few months you can review your meal plan and further reduce intake until you reach optimal weight. You can allow yourself limited amount of calorie heavy food on Shabbos and Yom Tov
Please commit yourself for the rest of your lives to eating responsibly. Even if you fail many times, never give up. Always start from fresh and commit from that minute on to be careful. Give it your best, daven to Hashem, and then you can relax and trust in Hashem to take care of all the issues. I’m sure that if you follow these guidelines you’ll achieve health and yiddish nachas.