Beth Warren is a registered dietitian, a certified dietitian-nutritionist with a private practice in Brooklyn, New York, and the author of the recently published book Living a Real Life with Real Food: How to Get Healthy, Lose Weight, and Stay Energized — The Kosher Way (Skyhorse Publishing).
Taking a walk through midtown Manhattan is all it takes to be hit with restaurant signs advertising terms such as, “kosher,” “kosher-style,” “kosher-vegetarian,” or “glatt kosher.” Although it seems to be the current fad with these fancy terms, the principles of the kosher diet have been around long before the food production of our time.
Despite the different ways the world has come to describe kosher styles of cooking, the term “kosher” literally means “fit or proper” and when it relates to diet, means that the foods are made in conjunction with the Jewish dietary laws of kashrut. Certain principles of a kosher diet were seen with our forefathers before they became actual Torah laws brought down at Mt. Sinai. Today, the Jewish people are still following the laws of kashrut for the same reason why the Israelites followed back then: because G‑d said so. The basic commandment to eat kosher food is the main reason why the kosher eating principles are still applicable today.
Of course, we all want to believe the rumor of the mill and the reason why other health conscious consumers purchase kosher products, which is because they feel those foods are better for our bodies. Although the Rambam, Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon otherwise known as Maimonides, ventures to say in his book Hilchot Deot that all kosher food is inherently healthier, the modern day evolution of ingredients transformed many kosher ingredients into heavily processed foods. The kosher consumer needs to be vigilant, if not more so than other restrictive diets, since the ingredients being used to meet the laws of kashrut, such as “pareve” (meaning non-dairy nor meat ingredients), manifest themselves in unhealthy man-made ingredients such as trans fat.
Through my book, I invite you to take the principles of keeping a kosher diet and use them to lead a healthier lifestyle. The following are a few key ways on how to use the kosher principles to help you live a real life with real food:
1. Following a kosher diet eliminates about 30 percent of food products from the market and allows you to focus on fewer items to make a more healthful choice. These days, we are faced with an overwhelming amount of products on the market shadowing healthier choices, only making a smart choice more difficult.
2. Since you are inspecting a food package for kosher ingredients and a hechsher (kosher symbol), it encourages you to read food labels.
3. Because of all the laws of kashrut, keeping kosher also teaches you a sense of discipline when it comes to how to eat, when to eat and acclimatizing you to say, “No,” to some food choices both inside and outside the home, a practice essential to living a real food way of real life.
It is vital to understand that foods with a kosher symbol do not make them automatically more healthful. Throughout my book, Living Real Life with Real Food: How to Get Healthy, Lose Weight, and Stay Energized — The Kosher Way, I guide you how to sift through various foods to find the healthy choices amongst kosher real food.
Read more about Beth Warren and her new book here.