Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

20 Tammuz 5765 - July 27, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

The Hierarchy of Dieting
by Rosally Saltsman

Whoever has studied psychology has heard of Maslow. He was a psychologist who developed the Hierarchy of Needs, a pyramid which depicts different kinds of needs which human beings strive to fulfill. His approach was that human beings are generally upwardly motivated; once lower (animalistic) needs are met, they naturally strive to actualize their potential in relationships and attempt to improve themselves and society. The pyramid goes from physiological needs to safety needs, through love needs, esteem needs and finally, self- actualization needs.

So basically, if you are in a war zone, you won't be concerned with finding a shidduch or completing a diploma; you'll be focused on staying alive. And if you don't have money for or access to food, you'll be rooted at the bottom of the pyramid, trying to get some.

This is good general knowledge when we're trying to motivate ourselves or others to achieve, but it is also relevant with regards to dieting. One of our physiological needs is food and our physiological motivator is hunger. People who are dieting, trying to diet or are thinking about trying to diet, are preoccupied with food. Although being on a diet and starving are two very different things, in reality, physiologically speaking, they stimulate a similar type of "hunger" which prevents the person from ascending to greater heights of the pyramid. The time, money, energy and thought spent on measuring, buying, preparing and thinking about food and "not eating it," pre-empts more productive activities.

This in itself should be an impetus to finally lose the weight so one can get on with life. Or, alternately, one can just come to terms with it as long as the extra bulk isn't a potential health problem — not everyone on a diet "needs" to lose the weight. I have never heard a eulogy for a woman extolling her slim physique. It isn't hinted at in Eishes Chayil and though our matriarchs and prophetesses have been referred to as beautiful, nowhere does the Tanach mention how exceptionally slim they were. The criterion for the ideal weight has changed significantly over the decades, centuries and millenia.

While guarding our health is very important and being attractive is certainly pleasant (though I know some unslim women who are lovely), making the most of our potential and limited time on this earth behooves us to reconsider the amount of time we spent agonizing about calories and milligrams on the one hand, and finally adopting the proper discipline to make sure we lose whatever weight we need to lose, on the other. And I mean it when I say `we.'

This, of course, does not include our food preparation for Shabbos, holidays and seudos mitzvah. That is primarily spiritual, even though it's tasty and satisfying.

As Jewish Women, we have an inherent obligation to rise as high as we can on the pyramid.

Maybe we can take the steps for extra exercise.


All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.