However uncommon it may be in the US to eat a little more healthfully, it is much more uncommon here (in Israel). The more recent “back to basics” way of thinking hasn’t permeated the lifestyle here, and many folks haven’t even heard of things that in the States are commonly accepted. Example: sugar is bad for your body.
My two older boys were invited to a friend’s house to play. Before they left, I reviewed the rules with them: remember manners, no TV or computer games, and eat only fruit or vegetables and drink only water. They know the drill, they understand. They’d already had a snack and would be coming home for dinner, so it’s not like they were hungry.
But Israelis like to feed people. More specifically, Israelis like to give children sweets.
About 15 minutes after my boys would have arrived (they walked), I received a phone call. In Hebrew (of course). My Hebrew is NOT good. So it sounded something like this, to my understanding: “I want to give the kids an Igloo. OK?” Now, I know they have a sugar filled popsicle here they call “Arctic”, so I figured it’s probably something like that. So I said, “No, it’s not ok.” She said it’s just water. I said no, it’s water and SUGAR. She said it’s hot, they’re hot, they want something cold. I said, “so give them water with ICE.” She said ok, she’ll just give them water.
Well, that was what I understood.
After the boys came home, they said she had basically insisted that they take it.
I was frustrated. It’s not that some sugar is that big of a deal. It’s that some sugar every day IS that big of a deal. We eat sugar. The processed kind, usually in a yummy dessert I make once a week. The kids eat cake and ice cream at parties. But it’s not a daily thing, and I know that if I am not very clear with the mothers at other houses they might visit, it will turn into a daily thing, and I can’t let that happen.
A few days later, I saw the other child’s mother and (attempted) to talk to her about it. It went something like this:
ME: What happened the other day with the Igloo? I thought I told you that they could NOT have it.
HER: It’s OK, I gave them water afterward.
ME: HUH? (I think it’s the same in all languages) I don’t understand
HER: What’s the big deal?
Typing like this is kind of annoying, so I’ll just paraphrase.
I said that the big deal was that it had SUGAR. And she said that she’s a (dental)hygienist, and so she knows about sugar and that it’s ok because she gave them water afterwards.
OH. Now I understood.
I told her that I was not even thinking about their teeth. And she actually asked me, then what was I thinking about? I told her I was thinking about their BODIES!
This is where I really couldn’t believe how many people still DON’T KNOW HOW BAD SUGAR IS FOR OUR BODIES! I told her that sugar really hurts the immune system. I told her that in our family we only eat sugar 1-2 times per week, and maybe at a party or something special. But that we don’t have it every day and that I can’t let my kids go play at houses where they are going to be fed it.
She looked at me like I had six heads. And asked what about when it’s hot, can’t they have something cold?
I explained that of course, we eat things that are cold. I make popsicles in molds out of real juice. And that the children enjoy it just as much.
And that was about the extent of my Hebrew.
Have you ever had an experience trying to explain to someone what you were doing and they just didn’t get it?