11/26/2013 10:43 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Just Eat Turkey Bacon -- But It's Not as Magical!


Eager to Exercise
We are officially two thirds of the way through the first DC Slim Peace group, and we celebrated one of our Jewish participant's new certification as a spinning instructor. Physical activity has become a hot topic amongst participants and group leaders, from women doing their first 5K, to joining masters swim teams, to going to the gym for the first time in months, to simply being more mindful about walking and moving more throughout the day.

Fasting Facts and Detoxing Details
Fasting represents a historical component of the religion of Islam, and our Muslim participants were more than willing to share their knowledge about annual fasting periods, specifically Ramadan, which is a month-long fast from dawn until sunset. Our bubbly Palestinian Muslim student confessed that the beginning of the month of Ramadan can be very difficult in terms of feeling hungry and not being able to drink water. One participant lived with a Muslim family in Cape Town while studying abroad. She had a family member that went through the fasting period with undiagnosed diabetes and passed away from gangrene and other side effects. Muslim participants clarified that there are fasting guidelines to prevent such things from happening for example while one is ill, traveling, menstruating or pregnant.

Participants opened up about their personal experiences with detoxing, a trendy fad for quick weight loss and cleansing of the body. A Jewish student participant revealed nutritional conundrums from her competitive ballet career, which required many questionable detoxes and consumption restrictions. Ultimately, our nutritionist confirmed that detoxing is an inefficient method of weight loss, and highlighted the validity of our nutrition lessons so far within the Slim Peace curriculum.

Kosher vs. Halal
Muslim and Jewish participants identified pork early on as an ingredient to avoid in the recipes and snacks brought into the sessions, in order to respect religious nutrition traditions. Many Christian and agnostic participants were eager to learn about the reasoning, similarities and differences behind these practices. Kosher and Halal dietary views were expressed through personal anecdotes from Jewish and Muslim participants.

We discussed the Jewish rational of not eating animals with cloven hoofs and the adherence to Kosher eating can vary between families and generations. One participant's mother was raised in a conservative orthodox home where pork products were strictly banned, while another was raised Christian in the south and grew up eating ribs until she converted to Judaism for marriage and adopted the lifestyle. A few of the Jewish participants confessed to having oinky weaknesses like bacon or wonton soup. A Muslim student exclaimed, "Just eat turkey bacon!" as a healthy and Kosher solution, "But it's not as magical," a Jewish woman responded. Muslim participants discussed the Halal background of pork being unclean or unhygienic, and that after being raised without it in their meals, they didn't enjoy the taste or smell.

This seemed like an inevitable topic when combining religion and nutrition, and it turned out to be one of the most dynamic, inclusive and inquisitive chats so far.