August 4, 2014

In Blog

Does this war make me look fat?

ry as may, I cannot stop rockets with M&M’s. Hershey’s syrup doesn’t stop the sound of booms, Cocoa Pebbles don’t stop sirens, and chocolate, glory be thy name, doesn’t stop war. I have tried in earnest to employ all of these methods and alas, Operation Tzuk Eitan is still in full swing. My name is Rachel and I am a chocoholic.


I have lost nearly 30 pounds since making aliyah and have a significant amount more to go. Despite a love of exercise and vegetables, I find myself eating not to alleviate hunger, but to satiate the worry, the fear, and the reality that we are in. Though I live in Beit Shemesh, an area not nearly as badly hit as those in the south and Gaza belt, the sound of that dreaded siren means the same thing no matter where you live; there’s a missile aimed at us, shot by people who want us dead. Even one of those is enough to make you freak out. Dare I add, even one those is enough to make the people who love you who don’t live in Israel, freak out, too.

When the war started weeks ago, though I’m having a hard time remembering what it was like pre- war at this rate, I found myself “war shopping.” In the States, when a heavy snow storm was predicted, grocery stores would fill with people shopping like the famine was coming. Shovels, rock salt, milk, water, and bread would fly off the shelves like there was literally no tomorrow. I was one of those people who admittedly blurred the lines between practicality and OH MY GOSH WE’RE NEVER GONNA EAT AGAIN! It had nothing to do with the starving children in another country, but the mere possibility that we’d run low on coffee before the snow had melted. Honestly, I can’t really tell you what I accomplished by war shopping other than to feed my increasing anxiety about living through it. I assure you that our grocery stores have not shut down, no one has starved, and we, thank G-D, still have plenty to eat.

Food has traditionally been a source of comfort for me. I am a child of a Depression baby and as such, grew up with food that I was certain grew from our kitchen table. We always teased my mother, may she rest in peace, about her seeming ability to feed the entire third world with the food in her freezer alone. She shopped for the people in the house, who might come to the house, and people who drove past the house. I grew up with food as a source of goodness and love, so I guess it makes sense that I’d use it now to try and make things better. It doesn’t.

It is comforting to know that I am not fighting this Battle of the Bulge alone. In a recent and very unscientific Facebook survey a friend polled her community by asking, “Eating more or eating less because of the “situation”?”

The answers varied, but most came to the conclusion that war is bad for your waistline. Many respondents admitted that their chocolate and carb consumption had gone up, as had their weight, while others said they were eating less as a result of the tension. Not eating because of stress is something I just can’t relate to; I don’t understand it and it confuses me. To be clear though, I am in awe and unabashedly jealous of people who can pull that one off. The common denominator everyone could agree on though was that war is stressful. It doesn’t matter if you have a child in the army or know of someone else’s on the front lines, whether Hamas is shooting at you non- stop, or every now and then. Knowing people want you dead? Not terribly calming.

It’s hard enough to watch your weight when things are relaxed. It’s that much harder I find, when consumed by social media, news, and the insanity of folks who still think the good guys are the bad guys. I feel The Grip of all of these things on my brain, in my nervous system, and struggle with things like,

How can I work out when 3 more soldiers have been killed? How irreverent does that make me?

The reports say that the soldier may still be alive. I should wait to see what the updates are.

Oh man, my “red alert” app is going off like gangbusters. I want to stand up and do something else, but they just don’t stop!

Don’t get me wrong, I KNOW how ridiculous this sounds. But I also know that I share this obsession with others who like me, logically get that being glued to a computer isn’t going to help us win the war any faster. The longer I sit, the less energy I have. The less energy I have, the less desire to cut open a bag of lettuce instead of plowing through a box of cereal. War really is bad for the waistline but it also wreaks havoc on the mind and soul. And that coupled with a case of “I am now one with my chair,” makes for yet more stress, more anxiety, more poundage, and no clearer end to what’s going on.

The good news? We are in these battles together. The existential ones, the physical ones, and the ones involving foods that call our name. I look forward to the day when this war is over, when missiles are no longer aimed at us, when our enemies no longer force us to protect ourselves in ways we wouldn’t otherwise fathom. May we soon be able to refer to this time the way we lovingly refer to many of our holidays,

They tried to kill us, we won, LET’S EAT!

Read more: Does this war make me look fat? | Rachel Weinstein | Ops & Blogs | The Times of Israel
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