Sweetly Bitter

No, not in terms of chocolate. Although, now that we’re on that topic, I have been eating way too much of that lately due to my post sem sadness :(.

It’s an emotional type of bittersweet.
It’s smiling when reminiscing on the year to feel tears streaming down your cheeks moments later.
It’s being happy to be home, back with your own bed and your family, but to know you’re back now for good, not just temporarily like over pesach break.
It’s eating home cooked food, but also missing Aroma and Coffee Bean and every other delicious restaurant in Jerusalem.

The sweet things are too good; cloying even. And the bitterness has a way of taking over, choking you with sweet memories that have now turned into “this time last weeks” and reasons to cry.

Sem ending is bittersweet. Leaving Israel is bittersweet. And coming back to America is bittersweet. There’s no way around it.

But your diet shouldn’t have extra sweetness because of the bittersweetness.

Now that you’re over jet lag, there’s no excuse to have four meals a day. And one welcome-back-to-America Starbucks is enough, no need to make that a regular. The days of watching Netflix while eating your sadness (ice cream anyone?) need to end at some point. And now’s the time (sorry guys 😦 ).

I hate to be the person to end the carefreeness, but I guess it’s better to hear it from me than from a friend, or, even worse, your mom (shout out to the moms reading this!).

It’s time to get back on track, and The Artsy Palate is here to help you do just that :).

Not to worry, I’m not about to suggest some type of insane diet or cleanse. I’m super against those (you can see this for a further elaboration of why I’m anti juice cleanse, soup cleanse, and every other type of starvation “detox”). My goal is to provide you with practical, realistic strategies to help you eat right in an attainable way.

For starters, my first suggestion would be to get rid of any junk food in your house. If you don’t want a certain food to make its way into your body, then there’s no reason for it to be lurking in the pantry. That’s basically setting yourself up for a slip up.
Ask your family if they’re okay with you clearing your cabinets of unhealthy food, or at least of foods that are of specific weakness to you. In truth, eating healthier would benefit everyone. You can give away or donate unhealthy food or put it aside for special occasions like Shabbat, holidays, and cheat days.

If your plans for a healthier home don’t seem to be catching on (tbh, in most homes they probably wouldn’t to this extent) then don’t fret. Your brother’s chip obsession has nothing to do with your health, after all. See if you can at least move the unhealthy food to a place that’s harder to access. Keeping the chocolate chip cookies on the eye level shelf in the kitchen is a tease that isn’t fair to you. A hard-to-reach cabinet or a container in the basement are both better places to store food you don’t want to be snacking on mindlessly.
Also, once you finish an unhealthy food item, try not to buy more of it. You can’t exactly eat what you don’t have in the house.

Another tip to help you get back on track is to drink more water. The recommended daily serving of water is eight eight ounce cups. When an unhealthy craving hits, have a glass of water to try and shut it out. Additionally, research has shown that those who drink a glass or two of water before meals end up consuming fewer calories, thus leading to weight loss.

Think about this for a second – how often are you actually hungry when you eat? If you’ve never considered this question before now it may be a good idea to start asking yourself it. Of course the best thing to do when you’re not hungry is usually to not eat, however sometimes the ideal cannot always happen. If you feel like you just have to munch on something even if you’re not hungry then try to make it a vegetable. Besides for being delicious and super healthy, vegetables are low in calories and won’t leave you feeling gross afterwards.
Think: Carrot sticks > Candy.
Unsweetened herbal tea is also a great low calorie choice that shouldn’t leave you feeling bloated.

Another tip I can give you is one you’ve probably heard already: Limit going out to eat to no more than once a week.
I would say to avoid restaurants completely during this getting-back-on-track time, but I know that as a nineteen year old girl that’s just not realistic. You would be missing out on way too much socially. Even though it is possible to be “healthy” while going out to eat, I still suggest you think of eating out as a treat reserved for special occasions. Although Greek Salad and Salmon with Olive Oil and Lemon sound innocent, you really have no idea what is going into a dish unless you prepare it at home yourself. Dressings can be loaded with sugar and/or salt, and it’s hard to keep track of portion sizes when one restaurant serving looks like it’s enough for five.

If it’s not too much of a hassle, I’d also suggest you keep a food journal. Writing down what you eat will help you keep track of what you’re letting into your body which will make you more prone to eat clean. Chances are you’re less likely to slip up if you know you’ll have to record it later. The Fooducate app is an excellent resource for tracking your food intake and exercise as well as keeping up with the latest nutritional news. I interned for them and can personally attest to Fooducate’s accuracy and sincere commitment to helping people live healthfully. Plus, interestingly enough, the company is based in Tel Aviv!

Lastly, I would recommend you start the journey back to health with a friend. With a friend’s support you’ll be prepared to tackle this challenging mission. Partnering up with a friend makes you accountable to them as well as to yourself. It’s easy to let yourself get away with excuses, but once another person is involved cutting corners will become more difficult. If you know that you have to report back to someone at the end of the day you’re likely to be more stringent with yourself. A dietitian that I’m currently working with, Miriam Botwinick, RD, actually offers group sessions as a strategy to help individuals loose weight.

According to Think & Eat Yourself Smart by Dr. Caroline Leaf, it takes sixty days to form a habit. Eating completely clean isn’t going to transpire overnight; it’s a process that will involve both failures and successes. It’s natural for things to be difficult, especially now while you’re still in transition mode. Try not to be discouraged. Keep in mind that most sem girls are in the same boat 🙂

*PS – In order to be notified when new posts are written, subscribe to The Artsy Palate by entering your email address below.

Hendrick, Bill. “Water May Be Secret Weapon in Weight Loss.” WebMD. Ed. Laura J. Martin. WebMD, 23 Aug. 2010. Web. 05 July 2016. <http://www.webmd.com/diet/20100823/water-may-be-a-secret-weapon-in-weight-loss&gt;.

Leaf, Caroline, Dr. Think & Eat Yourself Smart. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker, 2016. Print.


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