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Don’t’ forget your veggies…

June 27, 2017

A Diet shouldn’t be a short-term solution, rather an evolution into a better way of living” – Shona Vertue

Torah Parsha (Portion) Chukat in a nutshell from

Moses is taught the laws of the red heifer, whose ashes purify a person who has been contaminated by contact with a dead body. 

After forty years of journeying through the desert, the people of Israel arrive in the wilderness of Zin. Miriam dies, and the people thirst for water. G‑d tells Moses to speak to a rock and command it to give water. Moses gets angry at the rebellious Israelites and strikes the stone. Water issues forth, but Moses is told by G‑d that neither he nor Aaron will enter the Promised Land. 

Aaron dies at Hor Hahar and is succeeded in the high priesthood by his son Elazar. Venomous snakes attack the Israelite camp after yet another eruption of discontent in which the people “speak against G‑d and Moses”; G‑d tells Moses to place a brass serpent upon a high pole, and all who will gaze heavenward will be healed. The people sing a song in honour of the miraculous well that provided them water in the desert.

Moses leads the people in battles against the Emorite kings Sichon and Og (who seek to prevent Israel’s passage through their territory) and conquers their lands, which lie east of the Jordan.

Several years ago, I was working with a Biotech company who was doing research on Diabetes (I am assuming Type 2 Diabetes). As part of their Research, they had selected a sample of ‘closed communities’ from around the world to see what the impact of a change of diet has had on these communities. As I recall this change in diet from a traditional to a “Standard American or Western Diet” resulted in an increase in obesity and I am sure an increase in Diabetes.

Recently I was reading an article[1] about the Essendon FC player Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti. Anthony was born and raised on the Tiwi Islands, off the coast of Darwin, into an Indigenous Australian family. He played his junior football for the Tiwi Bombers in the Northern Territory Football League before moving to Victoria at the age of 17 to better his chances of an AFL career. Anthony’s adopted mother helped him with life and footy. She said that diet is a big focus. His adopted mother said Anthony “bulked up” when he arrived in Gippsland, unused to the type of food he was eating, and the quantity. She said that he doesn’t eat bread and has pasta only once a week – (the night before a game) – and she is in regular contact to ensure he gets the sustenance that suits his metabolism.

In an interesting Talmud Tip from the Daf Yomi Cycle[2] from Bava Batra 146a titled “A Steady Diet”. The Gemara says:

Shmuel said: “A sharp change in one’s eating pattern (All week long he eats dry bread, and on the festive days he eats meat — Rashbam) is the beginning of digestive problems.”

The great Talmudic Sage and medical doctor named Shmuel explains that the verse is teaching that “a sharp change in one’s eating pattern is the beginning of digestive problems.”  therefore, even those days of “good food” are also “bad” in a sense for a poor person who is not accustomed to such feasts. He should keep in mind that a “yo-yo” change in his eating pattern is a detrimental health factor.

A quote from Dietician Susie Burrell confirms what I have said above – “… Most extreme dietary changes, especially if they involve cutting out food groups, will have consequences.”

In the last few days I have listened to a few Podcast and watched a few documentaries, and the theme has “yes” been on diet and various diets.

The points I have raised above were re-iterated in a Podcast with Dr Neal Barnard when he explained the increase in heart disease and diabetes in Japan and China with a change in Diet. The actual focus of the Podcast was on – Why we should ditch dairy? “Some foods are fattening. Others are addictive. Cheese is both…Loaded with calories, high in sodium, packing more cholesterol than steak, and sprinkled with hormones — if cheese were any worse, it would be Vaseline.” NEAL BARNARD, M.D.

If you are interested, I have listed interesting content from the last few weeks:

  1. Newspaper Article – “Vegetarian diet twice as effective for weight loss, new research shows” – The Age 18 June 17[3]
  2. The Documentary What the Health on NETFLIX[4]
  3. Rich Roll Podcast with Dr Neal Barnard MD[5] that I mentioned above
  4. MBG Podcast with Amanda Chantal Bacon, Founder of Moon Juice, On Adaptogens, Embracing The Haters + Surrendering To The Universe[6]
  5. MBG Podcast with Melissa Hartwig, Founder of Whole30 (The Whole30 is a 30-day diet that emphasises whole foods and during which participants eliminate sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy from their diets.), On Addiction & How Hitting Rock Bottom Inspired an International Health Movement[7]
  6. MBG[8] and Rich Roll[9] Podcasts with John Mackey, Whole Foods CEO, On Food Co-ops, Meditation, And How to Turn Setbacks into Success and John Mackey on Conscious Capitalism, building an empire & the Power of Plants to Heal and Thrive (Before the Amazon takeover offer!)
  7. I also read an article[10] on Shona Vertue and her Vertue Method, titled “The Aussie who whipped David Beckham into shape” in The Herald Sun, Stellar Magazine (so I had to buy the book). Vertue grew convinced that the key to “overall health was flexibility and strength”. On diet, she says – “For the Vertue Method, she worked with a dietitian to ensure science backed up her nutrition plans, which might come as a pleasant surprise in this dietary era of extremes. Sugar, gluten, carbs, caffeine — none of it is off limits as far as Vertue is concerned. She simply preaches moderation.” (Others like Michelle Hartwig’s ex, Dallas Hartwig, say “Relying on willpower alone to somehow eat fewer of those less healthy foods is a battle you are destined to lose… which makes “everything in moderation” a poor long-term strategy.”)
  8. MBG Podcast[11] with Lauren Handel Zander[12] on Becoming a Life Coach, The Importance of Girl Gangs, And How to Never Be Bored Again (Seriously). Not a Podcast on diet, but she does speak about diet and I really enjoyed it. Lauren says that Unlike therapists who might offer a sympathetic ear when you say you’ve had a bad day and cheated on your diet, or who may encourage you to think of yourself as a woeful victim, Lauren and her coaches will hold you accountable. If you’ve done something wrong, expect to pay with a consequence your coach and you agree on. “Once you take responsibility you become powerful, and you take control of the situation.”
  9. MBG Podcast with Hill Harper, Actor, Author & Philanthropist, On Battling Cancer—And Beating Barack Obama In Basketball[13] – In the podcast, he talks about “Freshen up your diet” and says – “… Money is meaningless without health. I realised that true wealth is a balance of physical wealth, emotional wealth, financial wealth and spiritual wealth…”
  10. An interesting article[14]THE DIRT ON CLEAN EATING” it says – “There’s no scientific definition of ‘clean eating’, but it seems to be based on healthy choices – eat plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables; reduce salt, sugar and alcohol; and eliminate processed foods. The crux of clean eating is to consume food the way nature delivered it, or as close to this as possi

One of the interesting things listening to these Podcasts was how so many people have turned their lives around, people like Rich Roll (from Overweight alcoholic to one of the fittest people on the Planet and author of The Plant Power Way), Amanda Chantal Bacon (from LSD user to Moon Juice founder) and Melissa Hartwig (from Drug addict to founder of the Whole30 diet and being the super-fit poster child for the lifestyle). I think they all had to hit rock bottom before making a change. But WHY did they have to hit rock bottom first? There is a life lesson from this week’s Parsha.

In this week’s Parsha, Chukat we read about the red heifer (a cow that has not borne a calf). I read a beautiful piece[15] on the website titled “The Real Seed of Greatness” – In the article, it explains how the law of the red heifer is considered to be a paradox. G-d said that anyone who’s involved in the preparation of producing the ashes from the red cow – whether he is the one who slaughters it, burns it, or collects its ashes – becomes spiritually contaminated. However, the ashes themselves can then be used to purify someone. The article says “We all engage in some sort of behaviour that we want to change. Whether it’s our unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, unproductive thoughts, destructive actions, or poor character traits – there are things we all do that we truly wish we didn’t. 

And we’ve all reached the point at some moment in our lives when one of these things gets out of hand. We just get fed up with what we’re doing, a mental line gets crossed, and we know a serious change must take place. A newfound desire to take action occurs because we see clearly that this behaviour is preventing us from living a happy life. Before the change, we first hit rock bottom in this specific area, and experienced a sense of “impurity“.” Therefore, it’s the negative behaviour itself that causes you to change. The article concludes “The ashes of the red cow are impure – just like our poor choices are. But when the discontent or outright disgust of our past behaviour becomes the strong impetus to finally take serious action, this negative behaviour now becomes the pathway for a purification of your soul…… By doing this, you will have elevated your past impure actions into one of purity.

My philosophy is that life is all about learning and growing, and that life can be a real adventure of learning, growing, compassion, and joyfulness.” – JOHN MACKEY

It has been interesting to see all these different ideas and how changes to your diet can have such a detrimental effect on you, but why do people have to hit rock-bottom before making a change. We can all learn and hopefully, our diets evolve….

I still say the overriding factor is that IF YOU CONSIDER WHAT YOU EAT, YOU WILL ALWAYS LOSE WEIGHT, NO MATTER WHAT DIET YOU ON. AND Remember to JERF (Just Eat Real Foods). Or as John Mackey says “The most important stuff is the simplest stuff. Just eat more whole plant foods – It’s not that complicated”. This point is reiterated by Sami Bloom[16] in a recent Instagram Post[17]

VEGGIES – the one thing that all diets – vegan, raw, paleo, Keto, Atkins, Mediterranean – can all agree on Base a large portion of your diet on vegetables, and I mean a large part (not a measly side) and you can’t go wrong. So slice ’em, dice ’em, roast, stir-fry, steam, blend, puree or mash them- just get them in!














[12] Lauren Handel Zander is a life coach, university lecturer, and public speaker.




[16] Sami, a clinical nutritionist, holistic health coach and yoga instructor based in Sydney, Australia. My own health complications prompted me to make positive life changes, revitalising my health and leading to a drastic career change to Nutritional Medicine. I believe in nourishing your life in all aspects, mind body and soul, to achieve and maintain optimal and vibrant health. I hope to guide you on your own journey by sharing my knowledge, education, experience and recipes in this holistic wellness space.



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  1. great blog Ian – hope this means you will still be eating lots of chumos, pita, halva and other Israeli delicacies soon x

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