Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Unbalanced nutrition, unbalanced life - symptoms of a sick culture‏

The more I think about it, the more it seems that a large part of our health - and especially unbalanced nutrition - problems are rooted simply in not having enough time to eat proper, healthy, unhurried meals. We are so speed crazy that often we just quickly swallow something calorie-rich and with zero nutritional value, while we are standing or walking.

Ever wondered why being a nutritionist/dietitian is so popular in our generation? Note that obesity is a modern curse, as are obesity-related diseases. When wives and mothers dedicated the majority of their time to take care of their families, when houses were homes, with fresh, homemade meals on the table every day, and the family gathered for a slow dinner and relaxed conversation around the table, cases of morbid obesity were so much less frequent.

One might argue, of course, that in the past there were long periods when food was simply not as easily obtained as it is today. But that certainly doesn't explain the situation entirely. In my great-grandmother's home, they never went hungry, and they didn't limit consumption of cream and butter and fatty meats. And they were always fit and healthy. They ate regularly, and ate well.

And they were physically active. It came naturally for them. Today we are so obsessed with time-saving that we'll drive rather than take a walk, even if it only saves us five minutes and even if we know we have to spend money on gas. When cars weren't so readily available, exercise was naturally incorporated into people's lives and no one had to go to the gym in order to walk on a treadmill.

Today I observed a woman who came for consultation with one of my supervisors. She told she always feels tired and hungry and is constantly gaining weight. After a few questions, it turned out this woman doesn't sleep more than 4-5 hours every day. She comes home after a 10-hour-long day at work - and cooks, cleans, folds laundry, and checks her children's homework. Her husband, who works 14 hours every day, can't really help her much either. No wonder she can't get her weight under control - she hardly has time to eat, and she certainly doesn't have time to plan healthy and balanced meals!

So what was the advice this woman got? "Just let the house go. You can do everything during weekends. Why is it that a woman who works 10 hours every day comes home to take care of dirty floors and unwashed laundry?!"

I ask a different question: how come a wife and mother - and clearly a good, devoted wife and mother, who wants to take care of her family - has to work 10 hours outside the home every day? How come we are under the influence of the dangerous illusion that we must work ourselves to the border of exhaustion in order to "have it all together"?


Lady-in-the-Making said...

Bravo, Anna. I agree completely. Lord, I could even BE that woman who came in for a consulation! Thank you for your post. I'm so excited about your upcoming marriage. :)

Anonymous said...

I have heard of this very thing, myself: people don't have time for proper meals, not enough time to sleep, & the result is weight gain & exhaustion.

Please, keep writing about this, Anna. We are, societally speaking, caught in a terrible trap. You used the words "dangerous illusion", & that it is! One woman at a time, one family at a time. There is a book I have on my reading list called "The Two-income Trap: why families went broke when mothers went to work", by Elizabeth Warren. I watched an interview with this author (I think through a LAF website link), & it was riveting.

I am faced with the possibility of having to go to work again. This is something I still have a problem with, as I know I have gainful employment here, at home. It isn't something I'm at all happy about, & I certainly don't feel it's liberating! If it does come to pass, I pray God will give me the fortitude, both of body & mind, to take on the additional load. I also pray it will be only for a short time (less than 2 years).

Thanks for this post-

yoshi3329 said...

Doing the whole "super woman" thing for a long period of time can't be healthy. She can't keep doing this. She needs to take a rest. Why can't people figure out that their is no such thing as the "super woman"? These women are slowly killing themselves and they don't even know it! It's so sad!


Anna said...

I agree with this too. Another example is the Amish - they don't really eat light at all; they're known for their rich foods. And yet they work so hard that exercise is natural. I'm trying to remember this. Why can't I just walk instead of drive when the weather is okay? It's like the convenience thing is automatic now.

Leigh said...

Those are very good points Anna! I have been thinking about this topic a lot lately, especially after I found out my slight neuraligia (behind my ear) is probably caused by poor eating habits, (i.e. not enough water, fruits and vegetables).

Thank you for the post!


Mrs. Bethany Hudson said...

For the most part, Anna, I agree. Where I hesitate is that we know nothing about this woman's situation. She could be quite poor with six or seven children to feed. Perhaps she is the breadwinner. I have an aunt who works very long hours because her husband has been unable to hold even a simple sales job for more than a few months due to mental imbalance. For the most part, I agree that wives and mothers should be able to stay at home--and be proud to stay home, but there have always been circumstances, in every era, that require women to seek employment for the sake of their families, and I feel strongly that we should reach out to such women with compassion and care.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes it does depend on the situation--although staying at home as wife and mother is ideal, in my opinion. I'm not married now, but I work part time to save away money for when me and my future husband are out on our own. I'd rather work now(even if it's a little bit) while I'm a single student if that means I will be able to stay home as a wife and mother later.

Sarah R said...

I wrote a post about "having it all" on my blog as well. It seems to me that women of our generation are waking up to this myth, and realizing that "having it all" means "having nothing."
I happen to work myself, but I work from home so that I can still be here to cook for my family, and take care of my babies, and clean my home. Frankly, I'd rather not be working at all, but because my husband is self employed, I carry the health insurance for our family.
Although, Anna, I would be very interested in learning how to make more vegetarian dishes. I am grossly overweight and frankly disgusted with myself these days.

Anonymous said...

I agree with those who said it's hard not knowing the woman's situation. Not every woman has the opportunity to stay at home (be thankful you do!). While my husband has a good job which he loves, it doesn't pay much, so I work too (and medical insurance is through my job). I have found using a crockpot is a great way to make quick, healthy, home cooked meals when we're short on time. And we enjoy taking walks in the evenings. It might not be ideal to some but it works for us right now.

singlemomforgod said...


your posts are so on point. I don't think you understand the magnitude of your wisdom. You touch so many people. As a new bride to be, and someone who is new to biblical courtship, your posts have been a learning tool for me. The more I read your posts the more I want to walk up to my boss and just quit my job and go home to start taking care of my family. With your encouragement I am really before God on how to walk away from my career and become a full time homemaker.

BTW Congrats and check out my post


Zeljka said...

I completely agree that today's standard of how much we should do (and have) are not normal, and are very bad for people, for families, for nations. I hope we will all realize we should slow down, and slow down, choosing only the things that really matter - family, love, faith, simple work...


Zeljka said...

I forgot - she could do housework during weekend? How stupid advice, I must say. But when could this women get some rest, enjoy in nature with children, husband and friends? And when should she renew her spirit?

We live in a crazy world, we really do...


Anonymous said...

Great post! I work about 30 hrs per week outside the home, have one child, a helpful husband and I still struggle to keep it all together. The first thing that goes is my health. I have fought more colds and illness in the past 2 years than in all my life combined! It's a total lie to believe we can have it all-and have it all be good. Something has to give and for most mother's it's their own needs.


Anonymous said...

What an insightful post.

I remember when I worked full-time before having children (oh, and how I wish I had stopped working when I got married), I had no time to take of my apartment or cook or anything. I gave all my energy to the office.

And sometimes now, I find myself frustrated with how much time I spend marketing, trying to cook fresh food, and cleaning up afterwards, but I remind myself, this is the way it is supposed to be.

Karen said...

So true. I just read that most obese women average 5-6 hours of sleep per night! They certainly aren't lazy!

Swylv said...

this was wonderful. I know even my DH grapples with the wife/mom being home and not out there workign a job on top of wife/mom duties.

Question for you, in this post you mention cream, butter, and fatty meats. This was the topic of the Torah portion from yesterday. IN America not all of us have access to Kosher(kinder) animal butchering and many of our livestocks are pumped with hormones and such...but on meat is the fat we aren't to eat the big portion that is easily removed or even like in a marbled piece of meat should that be avoided?

I am not questioning HaShem's wisdom, just curious to how it's done in the Promise Land.

thank you.

Judi said...

This is sort of related, in a way -- I don't know how it is in Israel, but one thing I have noticed in the United States is that often, medical employees, such as doctors and nurses, are in very bad physical health. They are taking care of other people, yet don't take care of themselves. I have noticed that many nurses are not only overweight, they run outside to smoke a cigarette. I am not sure why this is so, but, I suspect that they are simply too busy to eat right, and they smoke thinking it will relieve their stress. I am aware there are many people in health professions who do take care of themselves, I am not saying all are in bad health. But, I am surprised at the number who do have bad health habits. Some could fall in the category of working women who are trying to also manage a home, and are too busy and tired to take care of themselves.

Emily said...

Somethng to consider is, our meat is heavy in hormones, hormones used to fatten animals up and make them as big as possible. We consume those hormones when we eat that meat. The meat standards in the U.S. is so poor, some other countries are appalled and refuse our meat. Someone mentioned the amish, I wonder if they have access to better raised meat?

All this is not to say I disagree. I do feel today's lifestyles play a big part.


Laura said...

I agree but think its important to mention, that another aspect of our health is related to the foods we eat and the products in our homes. For example meat with growth hormones, pesticides that have xenohormones which can mimic the affects of hormones in our bodies, and even chemicals in plastics that can leach out of water bottles for instance and have been linked with diabetes. There are lots of processes in our bodies that affect our weight and our health and anyone who has had pms knows how much a tiny change can affect our bodies. Diet and excersize are paramount, but there are also any number of tiny artificial influences in our modern world, that can also make a difference, especially when combined.