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CHAZAQ Articles

Food for Our Future


By Shmuel Shields, Ph.D., N.Y.S. Certified Nutritionist


Family is an integral aspect of a Torah life. While we are making efforts to improve our diets and exercise more, we have a great opportunity to teach our children about making the right food choices. If taking care of our bodies is a mitzvah, then we want to educate our children in this mitzvah just like any other.  After all, our children represent Klal Yisrael's future. We want to give them every advantage to help them fulfill their potential.

Recently an alarming trend has arisen: children today are being diagnosed with medical conditions previously associated with middle-aged adults. Much of this can be attributed to poor diet that leads to obesity and diabetes and not enough physical activity.

I had the opportunity to discuss this with a prominent rebbetzin After decrying the American food industry's harmful impact on food choices, the rebbetzin emphasized how important it is to educate children from the earliest ages about healthy eating. Nutritious meals and snacks have to be available both at home and in school, and adults must be role models of health-conscious behaviors.  To achieve this goal, she added, parents should be made aware of the dangers stemming from poor food choices and encouraged to assume responsibility for their children's safety in this area. A concentrated communal effort is sorely needed; rabbanim, teachers, administrators, doctors, and journalists all must become involved.

Personally, I find the issue of snacks to be the most challenging. The typical sugary and greasy nosh food available today-whether given out as prizes, eaten as Shabbos treats, or included in mishlo'ach manos baskets or birthday pekelach-may stimulate unhealthy weight gain, sugar addictions, and overactivity. What are healthier alternatives for both children and adults? Try low-fat baked chips, air-popped popcorn, high-protein bars, soy crisps, unsalted nuts and seeds, whole-grain pretzels and crackers, sliced raw fruit, berries, raisins, dried cranberries, and homemade oatmeal cookies.

Of course, that's all well and good when the children are at home. It's more difficult to implement when children are away at school or yeshivah, where the menu is typically fraught with fried foods, saturated fats, red meat, sodium, sugar, and white flour. Removing these harmful ingredients will help to reduce future risks of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

Parents can make a concerted effort to encourage our institutions to serve healthier lunches and ensure that the students receive some form of physical activity during the course of the day-to not only nourish their souls, but also to properly feed their bodies.

Unfortunately, many children today are denied the opportunity to acquire a taste for healthy foods, having been inundated with fried, fatty, salty, and sugary snacks and meals. Hopefully, as more nutritious foods are integrated both in school and at home, I am confident that over time they will acquire a taste for these healthier choices.


Excerpted from L'Chaim: 18 Chapters to Live By, which is now available online and at Jewish bookstores near you.  In this unique book, Dr. Shields gives clear, user-friendly guidelines for becoming healthier, stronger, and more energized while fulfilling the mitzvah to "guard your health" - based on the latest findings, Torah wisdom, and true stories. To order online, visit and click on Books. 

For a consultation with Dr. Shmuel Shields, N.Y.S. Certified Nutritionist, call (718) 544-4036.  Most insurance plans are accepted.  House calls, phone and e-mail consultations, and guest speaking can be arranged.  For information about VitaShield, a high quality multivitamin and mineral supplement with a well absorbed form of vitamin D, contact Dr. Shields at (718) 544-4036 or e-mail him at  To learn more about the latest developments in nutrition and for further product information, please visit


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