By Phyllis J. Lubin

Family Unity

“I’m so hungry.”

“You can have an apple.”

“No, Mommy. No apple. I’m so hungry.”

“How about a peach?”

“No peaches. I’m so hungry. I want chips.”

“Chips aren’t healthy, Yussie. If you are hungry you can have a fruit–that’s healthy.”

“No, Mommy. Stop with the healthy. I’m so hungry. I want chips!”

The summer has ended–the best season to lose weight–and I realize that I’m heavier now than before my favorite fruit season! I’m just so hungry all the time. Yussie and I have the same problem: hunger = caloric treats.

With the arrival of the New Year, I am trying once again to get “back on track.” It’s something my family (and my readers, since you are part of my extended family) sees happen every now and then. And every time I decide that I am back on track, they have seen me go off that same track soon after. I am what is known as a yo-yo dieter. I wish I weren’t. I pray that this time I will finally discover a healthier, more permanent lifestyle.

I remember asking the question of my teachers in school when we reviewed the Rosh Hashanah davening: Why do we ask forgiveness from Hashem for things we have done in the past, while knowing that we will probably do those same things again? Why would Hashem forgive our sins when we practically plan on resuming the same behavior? The answer given was that Hashem has faith that we can change our ways, and in fact gives us permission to “do teshuvah,” repent for our past sins and plan to do better in the future.

That’s my plan for the New Year! In fact not only am I planning on changing my ways for a healthy purpose, but we are taught that Hashem has commanded us against gluttonous behavior, and so I shall make my change in diet for religious purposes as well!

But how do I implement this in my daily life when junk food is in my house all the time? Further, a healthy lifestyle is beneficial for all of us, not just those who need to lose weight. On the list of side effects or byproducts of having Down syndrome is a propensity to have a slower metabolism, hence weight gain is seen more quickly on a person with Down syndrome. Therefore, right now Yussie’s weight is not specifically an issue, but with his condition, this is a matter for medical concern. So Yussie (and all of us) have to be made to understand that if you are hungry, an apple should suffice.

But we all know the mantra of Weight Watchers: if we limit ourselves too much, we set ourselves up for failure. And so if Yussie wants his chips on occasion, I need to figure out a way to work them into his daily diet rather than eliminate them altogether.

The “new” healthy way of eating began on Sunday. And if I am trying to limit my high-calorie food intake, and would like to do so for my children and husband, then the entire family must be on board. It has formed more family unity! We are all trying to actively think of new food ideas (well, almost all of us). I am now purchasing a lot more vegetables, and have instituted mandatory “fresh fish nights” into our weekly menus, to try to get away from the usual fast food.

After what seemed like a never-ending conversation between me and my youngest son last night, I am hopeful that there might be light at the end of the tunnel:

“Just one bag of chips, Mommy? Then healthy.”

“I can offer you some grapes, Yuss.”

It’s a matter of willpower. If I am in the mode to stand my ground with my kids (and my own inner appetite), I can usually get them to agree with me.

“OK, fine. I eat some grapes.”

May we all enjoy many grapes and yummy new fruits on Rosh Hashanah, and may this be the beginning of a very happy and healthy new year for us all!

Phyllis Joy Lubin is an attorney with Rosenfeld & Maidenbaum, LLP, who resides in Cedarhurst with her husband, Leonard. They have six children: Naftali, Shoshana, Rivka, Rochel, Yosef, and Lea and a daughter-in-law, Nina. The author welcomes your questions and comments at


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