In 2017, after having my fourth baby, I was determined to find a way to lose the baby weight (plus a bit more) in a sustainable and maintainable way. I found a podcast called Half Size Me, which has totally changed my mindset on the whole topic of weight loss and maintenance. I have read and learned a lot since that time about how to reach your health goals through small, sustainable life style changes, instead of diet products or programs. But along this journey of discovery, I also came to realize that as frum moms, we have very specific challenges that are not always addressed in the mainstream wellness industry. Below are what I consider the top 7 diet struggles of frum moms:
This deserves its own list, but suffice it to say that I internally scoff at every magazine article in November discussing how to manage Thanksgiving on a diet. Yeah, that basically happens every week of my life.
And does this scenario sound familiar? You get the coveted invite out for lunch. (Off the hook for cooking one meal—is that angels singing in the background?) Shabbat lunch comes, and you realize you have entered a dieting landmine. You figure you’ll stick to the salad, and then you realize it’s hopped up on mayo and Craisins, and the only available protein is girded in phyllo dough. Then the kids go play, and you finally get to have an adult conversation, lingering at the Shabbat table. You didn’t mean to have that brownie (or was it three?), but it was sitting in front of you, calling out to you for at least an hour. Might as well swallow it down with a glass of Bartenura. There goes the plan.
2. Yom Tov
You thought Shabbat was hard? Now do it for three days. Enough said.
You know Pesach is coming, so you’ll start your diet a month in advance, with, hmm let’s see, how about a whole day of people bringing you every type of candy and baked good known to mankind? Also, good luck with eating a normal, healthy meal while simultaneously finding another Megillah reading because you came in one minute late to the 8 o’clock one, making a multi-course seuda for 20 people, and trying to manage your kid, who is losing it because he can’t find the utility belt for his Batman costume. You would think Batman could be a little more resourceful.
Clean your entire house, then completely revamp your normal diet. And oh yeah, please refer back to number 2.
5. Having Children
You thought it was hard to find time to meal prep, exercise, and choose wisely before you had kids, right? Is it just me, or does it not get easier to manage your time with each subsequent child? Also, PSA—having 4 pregnancies in 8 years will not make it easier to maintain your healthiest weight, unless you are say, Angelina Jolie.
6. Keeping up with the Cohens, aka Internal Self-Judgment
We all know people who seem to be able to cook meals for all the new moms, work full time, have a gazillion guests for Shabbat, have 10 children, and never gain a pound. They don’t hire a cleaning lady because that would send their children the wrong message, but miraculously their homes always look pristine. Also, their kids have really cute clothes that are never stained, and they don’t fight or try to flush crayons down the toilet, creating sewage floods. (This may or may not have happened in my real life.) These people actually only exist in your mind, but they always seem to show up when you fail at being perfect, which is enough to send you on a challah bender. (Refer back to number 1 above.)
How many times have I seen beautiful Pinterest photos of healthy, high protein snacks or meals, and then notice that half of them involve grilled chicken? Even if you only wait three hours (I know you are out there, and I envy you), you probably question if you really want to be married to that turkey jerky till 6 pm. Who knows what dairy possibilities will be in your future? Can you really turn your back on all of them at 3 pm?
So that about wraps it up. In all seriousness—I really do think some factors in our lives as frum Jews can make weight loss and maintenance more of a challenge. But I have also found that half the battle is identifying the problem. Once you face the reality that part of your life will be managing these struggles, you can begin figuring out the solutions that will work in your particular life circumstances. I hope it helps to know that if you find yourself nodding your head when you read any of these identified challenges, you are definitely not alone!