Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

26 Adar II 5765 - April 6, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

Healthy Eating
by S. Kissner

It was Purim two years ago that we first met the Shwarznegers. We had just moved into the neighborhood and they very kindly invited us together with our six children, to join them for the seuda. We enjoyed the food and the companionship and were not unduly disturbed when Mr.Shwarzneger urged us to partake of the Chinese salad.

"Do eat some of this, friends; it's steeped in soya and I read in the paper recently that soya oil is one of the fats which builds 'good' cholesterol." My wife, innocently but unwisely, asked if he believed everything he read in the paper. Using obvious self control, our host replied that of course he didn't believe everything he read, but nobody could argue with facts. We changed the subject after that and the meal concluded merrily and smoothly.

A few days later, I heard that Naftoli Shwarzneger, our new friend's son, had just got engaged. I happened to see the father in the street, and crossed the road to wish him Mazel Tov and also to thank him for a delicious meal on Purim. He was carrying three trays of eggs which he put down on a stone fence to shake my hand. "These are organic eggs," he whispered excitedly, and then added, as if imparting a deadly secret "We haven't had an egg in the house for years, and only because of the false information we had, that eggs increase cholesterol in the blood." He glanced at my blank face and asked, "Have you never heard of that fact?"

The truth is, I had never given the matter any thought. When you are touching forty, cholesterol is not really a subject which bothers you. But Shwartzneger had placed himself into such a position that apart from stepping out in front of the flowing traffic, I couldn't move. So I was forced into a stammered reply, something to the effect that we never ate more than two eggs a day in our house.

The eggs were balanced precariously on a wall and I thought that he would knock them over in his agitation. "What!" he shrieked, and the eggs shook ominously. "I just can't believe such a thing. Two eggs a day and you have been doing that for years? Just look at you. You are killing yourself, man, you mark my words." I looked around and wished there were a nearby hole into which I could sink. His shriek had brought the considerable crowd of passersby to a standstill, and it seemed as if each one of them was gazing at me in horror.

"Yes, indeed!" continued Shwarzneger, making sure his voice reached out to the great crowd. "Have you never heard of the mitzvah of venishmarten meod lenafshoseichem" — that you are obliged to look after yourself? Two eggs a day! Have you checked your cholesterol level? Have you had a stress test for your heart? Have they done an E.K.G? I'm surprised you are still breathing normally. Who knows what they'll find when you have yourself checked out. I can visualize the blocked arteries, for sure. Tell me, are you not in any pain when you walk?" The truth is, I am very fit, but I just shook my head helplessly.

"Aha, I'm right aren't I? You're just the right age to be in danger of a severe heart attack. I am in a hurry right now, but I will keep in touch, as I am right up to date with all the news in the medical world. I'll help you get out of this predicament." With that, he picked up his eggs, clearing the way for me to move on, and for the crowd to disperse.

I remembered his promise that evening, as I climbed the steps to my flat, on the third floor. This was the first time I had ever noticed that the steps were rather steep and that I was breathing heavily. As I got home, I noticed beads of sweat on my brow, and I decided to phone my new friend right away, to ask what he would suggest. He was in the middle of the engagement party, but like a true friend, he left his guests to come to the phone. "Listen to me. There is no immediate hurry for medical attention right now. You've come to the right address. I will call you daily to keep you updated with all the latest findings in the field of medicine."

The evening after that, I was surprised to see that each of my little children had a cup of coffee standing by their plate. "Mrs. Shwarzneger phoned with a message from her husband that he had read an article about caffeine," explained my wife. It seems that new research had come to light that caffeine strengthened the heart muscles. The two of them were now drinking several cups of coffee a day, although previously they had shunned the beverage.

On the following day when I asked Shwartzneger about this, he told me that they had stopped drinking coffee, although they had drunk it for two days, because researchers in England claimed that in spite of some opinions that coffee was good for you, it was addictive. I immediately phoned my wife and asked her to pour the coffee down the sink. I heard the children's protests over the telephone, as she carried out my wishes, which only proved how wise Shwarzneger was. They had become addicted in one day.

Thus began our introduction to healthy eating and a longer life expectancy. During the months which followed, we had salt-free menus for a while, meatless weeks, and a week with wine to every meal. "You can't argue with facts" our mentor claimed. "I saw it printed black on white that bitter chocolate is good for the heart whereas milk chocolate is not. Sounds strange, but it is a fact." The bitter chocolate went down well after our daily meat, which Shwarzneger now assured us was best for the heart. We stopped eating fish because there was an article about fish being full of mercury.

It was almost a year later, just before Purim, that my parents came to visit. My mother commented on our collective loss of weight. She asked why the children were looking slightly emaciated: had they been sick? Not in the least, we hastened to assure the concerned grandparents. While they were with us I did not contact Shwarzneger at all, and, rather guiltily, we ate all the forbidden foods, knowing that the dreaded cholesterol, which we had seemingly banished once and for all, was creeping up on us.

My parents asked us to spend Pesach with them, as we had not been there for several years. We accepted their invitation with alacrity, and over Yom Tov, we regaled them with the story of our healthy year. They did not argue with facts. They laughed and laughed uncontrollably. We went back home but unfortunately, we now lost our new friends who had been so good to us this past year.


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