Our generation is facing one of the serious health issues – obesity. In response to public demand many diets were introduced in the recent years. Some of them come and go quietly without creating too much damage; some of them unfortunately did not go so unnoticed. We have rights to ask the question who is behind promoting those diets and how many years of scientific studies did they undergo?
When a new diet shows up, people jump to it without realizing we are playing with our
own health. It is not yet another book, or an article – it is our health that is at risk.
We do not seem to think that the Torah requires us to control our eating to preserve our health. It is quite opposite. There are laws in the code of Jewish laws (Halacha) about eating. I will have another post to cover this amazing topic.
Maimonides – one of the greatest Jewish philosopher and the outstanding doctor who lived 800 years ago wrote a tremendous amount of material concerning health. Maimonides’ teachings have withstood hundreds of years and are as solid and truthful as they have ever been. Many recent nutritionists outside of Jewish world came to the same conclusions after decades of proven studies on the matter. Every science and medical discovery till nowadays just provides confirmation of Torah’s ultimate truth and wisdom. It encourages the fact that this manual for living is given to us with love and care.
In his writings, Maimonides gave very clear instructions regarding what, when and how much people should eat in order to lead a healthy life. One of his well-known quotes is: “No disease that can be treated by diet should be treated with any other means.”
His attitude to medicine is based on three main fundamentals — nutrition, physical exercise and balanced mental state. If you practice physical activity but neglect your nutrition, or eat healthy but do not exercise, or suffer from depression, then eventually your health will suffer. Maimonides has talks on the benefits of sun exposure, vegetarianism and a good night sleep.
Maimonides teaches “Don’t eat three hours before bedtime; wait one hour after rising to eat; don’t drink milk; avoid meat (if you must eat animal flesh, choose chicken); eat small fish, such as the sardine, instead of big fish, like the tuna; don’t drink as you eat, (Too much fluid dilutes the enzymes, which makes digestion harder) and, the most obvious one, don’t overeat.”
Maimonides says that most of the health and sickness of the body ruled by how one digests his food. One who does it in the proper way will be a healthy person, but one who does not do it right will be a weak person and can bring himself to danger.
The beginning of the digestion process takes place in the mouth, as the teeth grind the food and mix it with saliva. Therefore, one should not swallow any food without chewing it first. The stomach’s job is much easier if one were to chew his food properly before swallowing it. Since chewing is so important, one should refrain from talking (including talking on the phone). Aside from the danger of choking, this also prevents proper chewing. Reading also distracts one from chewing. One should not place food on his fork while he is chewing, as he will swallow his food faster if he sees food ready on his fork to be eaten.
One should be in a happy mood and not full of anger, fear and worry while eating.
Even a snack requires you to sit down, chew well and give it your full attention.