The obesity problem in the United States is affecting everyone – even children and teens. According to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for children and adolescents ages two to 19 years, the prevalence of obesity was 19.3% and affected around 14.4 million children and adolescents.
One of the main culprits of childhood obesity is access to processed foods like cereal, cakes and candy. In her new children’s book “Let’s Stay Healthy” author Bracha Goetz aims to teach Jewish children about the importance of eating fruits and veggies and staying away from junk food.
“There is a lack of content on healthy eating for children in the Jewish world, so we wanted to make this book available for our community first,” Goetz said. “But we plan to have this book become available to the wider world as well soon, as the response to it has been phenomenal.”
In “Let’s Stay Healthy,” children eat junk food and then discover that it causes tummy aches and cavities and makes them feel bad. Goetz uses fun rhymes and colorful pictures to tell the story and teach her lessons.
When the main character discovers healthy choices, he proclaims, “I try to eat food that comes straight from Hashem, ‘cause the vitamins and minerals I need are in them. Hashem knows exactly how to make things best. Hashem’s food is better than all the rest!”
“Let’s Stay Healthy” is Goetz’s 40th children’s book, and she wrote it because a mom she knew wanted her to create a book “that could help a child understand how to take good care of their wondrous bodies,” she said. “I loved the idea, but I wasn’t exactly sure how to do it. Then one morning a few days later, I woke up with a clear plan of how to write the book – the Almighty even sent me the title for it too.”
The book is for children ages three to six, but according to the author, older children, teens and adults are finding it transformative as well and starting Healthy Eating clubs.
For Goetz, the topic of the book is personal. When she was an undergraduate at Harvard, she took courses at Harvard Medical School and Harvard’s Graduate School of Public Health before she went on to study in medical school. While she was in school, she was secretly suffering from and eating disorder, and wrote a memoir about it called “Searching for God in the Garbage.”
“What I discovered through compiling excerpts from my diaries, journals and letters into the book is that the food addictions developed because my soul was starving for spiritual nourishment,” she said. “When I finally learned how to fill my genuinely hungry soul, there was no longer a need for the addictive behavior.”
“’Let’s Stay Healthy’ offers a perspective I haven’t seen in books in the general market: Clearly, simply and joyfully explaining why the healthy choices are beneficial.” – Bracha Goetz
Now, Goetz is hoping to impart what she learned onto the younger generation. “’Let’s Stay Healthy’ offers a perspective I haven’t seen in books in the general market: Clearly, simply and joyfully explaining why the healthy choices are beneficial,” she said. “And this book doesn’t only help children see clearly why junk food can be harmful, it also explains why moving our bodies is valuable, why cleaning away invisible germs on our hands and gook on our teeth is essential, and why sleep is important too.”
With this newest release, along with her other books like “Let’s Stay Safe!” and “Let’s Appreciate Everyone!” — which talk about personal safety and being inclusive of children with disabilities, respectively — Goetz said her focus is to help children’s souls shine.
“That is the goal of every single one of my books,” she said. “Basically, I try to write the kind of books that I wished I had as a child.”