Maggie Goes on a Diet

This book gives young kids a dangerous message.

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Comments (33)

(27) Paul M Kramer, November 30, 2011 12:44 AM

I am the author of the book, "Maggie Goes On A Diet"

Hi Rabbi, Is it possible that you have judged this book by its cover and by hearsay and innuendo and not by what is actually written in the interior of the book, (Its heart). I do now have an alternate version of the book called, "Maggie Eats Healthier." I will be happy to accept both positive and or negative criticism about this book once you have read it. Will you allow me to send you a copy? Can you critique it without bias? I hope so. I would love to share it with you. Respectfully, Paul M. Kramer

(26) Anonymous, September 19, 2011 9:30 PM


Agreed. Even when I hear people say to little girls "that's such a pretty dress you wearing" - what is that teaching the little kid - that a superficial item like her clothing is important. I mean maybe once or twice, but I feel nowadays that's ALL people say to little girls. I wish people would engage in more meaningful conversation with young children instead of settling with meaningless stuff they don't even have any influence over (e.g. "what a pretty name").

(25) Baruch, September 18, 2011 6:28 AM

Of Fish & Meat

It's hard to argue that this book didn't over-do it. But maybe we need that wake-up call. To paraphrase Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Herschel Shachter, we live in a world where no religious woman would consider serving fish right after meat, as the Talmud calls it a "sakana." But to serve-and-eat too much? No problem. For a religious home to serve a diet that lends itself to obesity is considered perfectly OK - even though it is 100% proven to encourage everything from heart-attacks and diabetes to joint-pain and Alzheimer's. Instead of complaining about this book, which is a symptom, our Rabbis should be curing the problem by writing a Halachic book on healthy eating - to be taught to 4 to 8 years old, too. I bet would be thrilled to sell it.

(24) Amber, September 3, 2011 4:32 PM

Co-Worker with eating disorder.

Back in 2005 when I was in the Army...there was a female soldier that I was friends with. While in Basic Training together, she would go to the bathrooms after meals and ask me to go with her. In Training, soldiers have to have a "battle buddy" with them at all times, even to the bathroom. So I would go with her and she would always be throwing up. She told me that she was suffering from a horrible flu virus and she just wasn't getting better. 3 weeks went by...and after every meal I would go with her to the bathroom while she "battled the flu" and threw up. I was a naive 19 year old girl, I didn't know better. Until another soldier told me the female was bulimic, and I was more or less enabling her and her disease. I was horrified! I lived with guilt for a long time that I was aiding in her decline. By the time we graduated (after 9 wks), this soldier was unrecognizable. While I (unknowingly) assisted in the illness of an eating disorder...I believe this book will encourage and advocate it. I'm now 25 and I have a 4 year old daughter. She will never, ever read this book.

(23) Anonymous, September 2, 2011 3:13 AM

Totally agree with you Rabbi Soloman. Its such a sick society we live in where losing weight is an obsession. Its comforting to hear a rabbi talk about the issue of eating disorders, lo aleinu.

(22) Barbara K. Brown, September 1, 2011 3:50 PM

Thank you for this thoughtful video

(21) L.S., September 1, 2011 1:46 AM

Children's books that should never be published

Here is a mental list off the top of my head of children's books that should never be published: 1) Things rich kids have that you never will 2) There are monsters in your closet 3)The pop-up book of human anatomy 4) The divorce is your fault 5) Your dads are f**s This is all I can think up so far, and of course, these are all ridiculous. Suffice to say, I will never take the initiative to write these ridiculous books, and anyone who would be stupid enough to hypothetically buy any of the above or "Maggy Goes on a Diet" seriously needs their head examined. Sadly, common sense is not so common anymore! Next issue, please?

(20) Anonymous, August 31, 2011 6:38 PM

What are we really communicating to our girls?

Are we saying that if you are overweight you have no friends and can't play sports. People come in all shapes and sizes. Rather than say Maggi goes on a diet, how about Maggi learns to play Soccer - and put forth all the benifits of this. There was a time when being chubby was considered a good thing, it showed you were wealthy enough to eat. I agree with you Rabbi Salomon, being 'skinney' does not mean you have friends and will be popular - your personality dictates this. Our girls already have enough pressure on them to be thin we don't need to add to it with these types of books.

(19) Anonymous, August 31, 2011 5:06 PM

Long term health is the primary issue, not just obesity and self image.

Obesity is no joke, but a cause and symptom of serious health issues. What we eat causes more than obesity, but a terrifying array of 'degenerative diseases' that decimate our numbers and cause untold misery. THEN instead of mockery we get ‘I told you so’ or sympathy, but who needs either? We dig our graves with our teeth if we continue our present way of eating. We MUST address these issues because WE are responsible to maintain our wonderful bodies so we can be top-functioning members of our families and communities. Our doctors don’t often advocate radical change because they know we won’t do it. We’d rather blame our genes, take pills and wonder ‘why we are being afflicted’. We have no choice but to make radical changes for serious results. If we are still afflicted after our best efforts, we may then wonder if there is a message in it. We go to any lengths to keep kosher. Health should be central in that agenda, but the kosher aisles in our stores are nothing but junk food alleys and we serve more spectacular foods at every occasion. Those with weight and health problems or those trying to keep healthy, must perpetually resist all that temptation when really nobody should be eating it. It is very possible to make spectacular, satisfying, healthy food. We must develop our tastes so we love the good and are revolted by that which destroys. We must make it our business to learn what is healthy and how to prepare it. We deserve it. We owe it to those we love. The home is the place to learn and establish excellent eating and lifestyle habits. The school reinforces them. The community upholds them. We have never taken kindly to those who tried to destroy us. We should be as diligent to resist the enemies within - the appalling lack of concern, lack of knowledge and unrestrained appetite - and adopt the concept of ‘eat to live’ rather than ‘live to eat’. There must be a paradigm shift in our thinking and practice so the ‘peer pressure’ is only for good.

Anonymous, September 3, 2011 2:47 PM

a recipe for anorexia

While obesity is THE major health problem in the USA,the message in this book is no way to address it. Note is directed at girls. This is worse than pornography, for this book can do great harm if a half-wit well meaning parent uses it to manipulate or indocrinate their vulnerable child. While there is no know cure for obesity in our society, there is room for prevention. What the parent serves the child each meal and especially their eating habits will go a long way to preventing this uncomely disease. When you see a seriously obese child, think: Is this unfortunate "youngun" a victim of child abuse?.

(18) Anonymous, August 31, 2011 2:10 PM


Right on, Rabbi!! *high fives you* The author of the book, as he appeared on Good Morning America, needs to take his own frapping advice and quit picking on little girls, putting horrible idea into their minds. No person that supports this book can be called a "parent".

(17) Anonymous, August 31, 2011 2:09 PM

the inability to cope with this book may show the parents inability to feel they can teach there children there view of the world. One may think that if there child reads this book he may get the wrong idea and therefore be cast into a vicious unhealthy cycle of dieting or whatever. I dont think this would be the case, My 4-8 kids could read this book and not be damaged only helped even if you agree you dont like the book. yes im sure they would have question about it at first, But you can just show them calmly and nicely that this isnt really how it happens in the realy world although many think they can be happy with these things .. ect ect basically explaining to them in a basic enough manner; what this book is really saying. Im sure the book isnt flat out saying "dont be obsese cus if you do youll have no friends".. its just giving a very "primal" way of looking at dieting and hoping to help kids with the health concerns of today. soo to get all " this book is dangerous" is an overstatement. I think you would be suprised at how smart all of your children really are when you give them the chance to understand you.

(16) Anonymous, August 31, 2011 1:08 PM

You should have read the book

I agree with your contentions about self-image and diet, etc. However, your comments should be based on a full reading of the book. Kol tuv,

(15) Anonymous, August 31, 2011 11:14 AM


The word Diet can be broken down to "die" "t" When you go on a diet a part of you dies. It's better to make lifestyle changes which Weight Watchers and other weight loss plans advocate. Eat healthy, exercise (aerobic, strength training and stretching are important), drink 8- 8 oz. glasses of water and make sure when you eat lunch and dinner that you have a little bit of a starch(brown rice, sweet potato, potato, corn, buckwheat, quinoa, millet, etc.), starch should be 1/4 plate, then have protein 1/4 plate , veggies and fruit should be the rest of the plate. Make sure to eat green veggies daily and 2-3 fruits daily. Oatmeal is a great way to start the morning with a bit of milk or soymilk or rice milk or almond milk and a fruit. Will keep you full longer and helps curb sugar cravings. Add cinnamon. Also make sure you are getting all your vitamins and most importantly talk to your doctor before changing your lifestyle with eating habits and exercise.

anonymous, August 31, 2011 1:59 PM


okk this is not gammatria . you can just say oh diet is like die therefore part of you dies... that is the most ridiculous basic thinking ever. the rest of your advie is fine but like getting all hopped up over a word like diet is immature. the book could be fine if you show your child how to think about it in the correct manner. EVERYTHING can be skewed for different interpretations.

(14) Simcha Mendel, August 31, 2011 5:06 AM

Living healthy!

I do a lot of research on health issues due to the fact that I live a healthy lifestyle. Rabbi Salomon is absolutely right when he warns against children dieting. It is an excellent idea to substitute unhealthy food with healthy food such as food that contain saturated fats with the same type of food that does not contain the saturated fats. It is very important to read the ingredients. My suggestion is that if it is possible, to do everything homemade avoiding all of these unhealthy fats. Moderation is the key to a healthy lifestyle. From my experience, the best way to maintain a healthy weight is to exercise. If possible, an adult should exercise or speedwalk at least 40 minutes three times a week. An hour to an hour and a half at least four times a week is the best exercise. A child does not have to exercise like an adult but should move around and not sit or remain in one place all the time. My suggestion is that parents should walk and exercise together with their children in order to get the child use to exercising and to make it enjoyable for him or her.

Simcha Mendel, September 1, 2011 1:25 AM

Living healthy!

One point I forgot to mention. A study was done and found that the two biggest weight gaining products are potato chips and drinks that have added sugar, especially carbonated drinks such as coke. Even before I saw the study, I knew about the problem with coke. Someone I know told me that when he learned in yeshiva years ago, he remembers a student who gained 100 pounds from drinking coke. In addition to the weight gaining problem, coke is one of the most unhealthy things a person could subject his or her body to. At the most, coke should be a Shabbos treat and even on Shabbos not to overdo it.

(13) DAVID FRANKEL, August 30, 2011 10:54 PM


(12) Hadassa, August 30, 2011 10:21 PM

nothing good here!

I hate the idea of this book. That having been said, I was a heavy child & I am an overweight adult w/ a heavy child & my concern is more on the horrible teasing & bullying that goes on in our yeshivas! It not just against heavyset kids, but tyhat is certainly a problem! Why are we not teaching our young people about true Ahavas Yisroel, Derech Eretz & acceptance, instead of confusing their values/feelings about weight/"looks" and possibly introducing them to the unhealthy world of eating disorders?!

(11) Anonymous, August 30, 2011 8:17 PM

Thank you Rabbi, someone had to say it!!

Thank you Rabbi, someone had to say it!! People talk about obesity, but "dieting" will not solve that problem. Take a closer look, repeated dieting causes people to eventually put the weight back on and then some!!! Not to mention, who SAYS this type of thing to a 4-8 year old?? Parents decide what is in their house and set examples-period. If the whole house is eating well and the kids are going for walks, or to the park, or our in the garden...that is exercise. I grew up thin, but still heard all the "you have to watch what you eat" messages. So did another female relative of mine who is the same age, who was and still is very heavy; Her mother put her on diet after diet, I can't imagine these messages served either of us very well.

(10) Kaela, August 30, 2011 4:36 PM

the word diet

This is so very true. Instead of thinking about going on a diet the world needs to think about the word diet. Your "Diet" is what you eat and not something you go on. Your diet can be either healthy or un-healthy; the choice is yours. That's the message people need to hear.

(9) ruth housman, August 30, 2011 3:21 PM

by all means, mention Anorexia

I think you are making a very important statement about this book. Dieting is not the answer to life's issues, and those who diet do not suddenly achieve stardom in any case. There is a major difference between Healthy and Dieting to Solve problems. Children are sensitive to the slings and arrows of society, and being fat is then accentuated by this notion that Dieting Is the Answer. I am a therapist. I have dealt with anorexia and also bulimia and "weighty" matters in the Clinics. Society is giving out the wrong messages and it's really astounding to me, that after all the knowledge we have about eating disorders, self image, and what fuels, literally fuels these problems, we still find books like this with a really unhealthy and wrong, message. Then again, I just heard a radio program talking about the selling of sexy underwear to very young children, a new item that is coming from France. So what IS the message we are sending to our children, and why is it, these things continue to sell? What is, the bottom line?

(8) Shalom Dov Ber, August 30, 2011 3:14 PM


I agree that teaching young children that dieting and being thin is the solution to social problems is wrong, and I agree that it is important to teach children how to live healthy lives is the way to go, but I disagree with panning a book that you have "heard about" but not read. Is it impossible to get a review copy?

(7) Lisa, August 30, 2011 2:24 PM

Maggie might munch too much......

We dont need a book about this...where are the parents? Lets make the parents accountable if a small child is over weight....a book is not going to help. But like alot of things nowadays...its just an unfortunate reflection of our society!

(6) Sheree, August 30, 2011 2:00 PM


I am now 56 but suffered with bulimia prior to it having a name. You are 100% correct and there is great freedom in simply making choices for health and being delivered from the obsession that looks are everything. Thanks for your insight-hope it speaks loud to assist parents in guiding their young girls to a healthy mindset.

(5) josh, August 28, 2011 9:12 PM

In every 150 eating disorder cases in children, around 1 is due to anorexia with the rest due to obesity, have we got our priorities straight?

With the greatest of respect I feel that this video stresses the importance of keeping our children from developing anorexia and mentions at the end that obesity is also a problem. In the US alone estimates gage that around 25,360,000 children are obese (1 in 3 children) where as only 1 in every 400 children contract anorexia or similar diseases. If you had a class room of 133 children and you could only read them one book, this book would encourage over 99% of them and may implant wrong ideas (leading to a very serious problem) in less than 1% (using the stats above to assume that the number of cases is representative of the population). Obviously anorexia is a serious problem, but compared to obesity it almost pails into insignificance. Therefore obviously the book (which you and I both haven’t read) may not give over the healthy eating message completely right but overall it is definitely doing much more good than harm to help our children grow up instil ideals of healthy eating and regular exercise, with the carrot (pardon the pun) of popularity to encourage kids along.

tova, August 30, 2011 8:05 PM

yes, i think we have

1 in 400 may be diagnosed with anorexia, but I can assure you that far more than that have disordered thoughts when it comes to food and body image. But even beyond that- I was in a room of maybe 200 girls (from all over) for a speech the other day and the speaker asked how many people knew someone with a serious eating disorder. Every single girl raised her hand. And I don't recall seeing anyone who looked particularly obese. Girls get the message to be thin pretty early, without the help of books like this. I don't think most people who are obese are that way because they like their body how it is and don't mind being unhealthy. It's usually because eating has become an emotional response to problems in their lives. The solution is not to teach them to be thin, it's to teach them to be happy.

Mamzer Hakodesh, August 31, 2011 2:43 AM

To Josh: Yes. I seriously doubt that only 1 in 150 cases of eating disorders in children are due to anorexia. Another important factor is that obesity is not an eating disorder, it's the condition of an overly large portion of fat in the body. Overeating is an eating disorder, and does not necessarily lead to obesity (not saying it doesn't lead to obesity either). Having a healthy amount of body fat goes hand in hand with being healthy. For that matter, there are different opinions about what a healthy amount of body fat is. Some studies show that fatter people who exercise and have decent nutrition can be healthier than those who are thin but don't eat nutrition-rich food or have fluctuating body weight due to yo-yo dieting. Next comes the popular idea that saturated fat is bad for you. If it's so terrible, why were traditional Inuit diets composed almost entirely of animal fat and meat? There are other world cultures that had mostly animal products for food. I'm not saying that we should all eat lots of animal fat or advocating any particular diet. I'm saying that the ideas about what creates obesity, why people may be obese, the health of obese vs. skinny people, and what is the "right" food or "right" amount of calories to eat are just that : ideas. They aren't necessarily true. And those that are true aren't necessarily true for all people all the time. It's easy to look at a person who is larger than you and make judgements about their intelligence, personality, or even their beauty. In almost no other group of people in North American society is it acceptable to be so intrusive and presumptuous. When many become "concerned" about a loved one's body size, they should ask, "am I concerned about health, or a size I'm uneasy with?" Are we sacrificing our children to idols when we don't feed them whole foods, and don't feed them ENOUGH food? Just my opinion.

(4) temi, August 28, 2011 5:06 PM

jewish perspective?

Are there any Jewish books for children that discuss proper eating, exercise, and nutrition? Do Jewish schools have classes on these things along with what is kosher? Just curious.

Mamzer HaKodesh, August 29, 2011 4:29 AM

I agree

I was upset to hear about this book - that was before I learned the book was for children between 4-8; some of these kids aren't even in kindergarten yet. I don't often agree with your vlog, but emphasis needs to be on health, not body shape or size. I personally do not eat low-fat foods. What I try to do is focus on whole foods - whole grains and legumes rather than bread and pasta, veggies, fruit, nuts, meat, and some dairy. There are always new ideas about what we should or should not eat, and what is good or bad for us. I try to eat a good breakfast and on good days, I get lunch and supper in there too (rather than just snacking or eating random food). I regret all the shame and fear I had about my size in school. As an adult, I now weigh more than I used to, but cover up less and enjoy the wind on my skin more.

(3) mona, August 28, 2011 5:04 PM

foused on the superficial

the problem is that this society focuses on the superficial, and they focus on the results. that is why a book like this can be written--fat girl becomes thin, therefore her life is improved--instead of a book about what it means to be healthy and to try your best. people are focused on for themselves--and for their children--that they all look a certain way, because they think their accepted appearance--and what is accepted and praised in terms of appearance has been more and more limited over the years, thanks to tv, media, and madison avenue--means success. they don't focus on the work it takes, on what really matters, or what the meaning of success really means. many people would rather be unhealthy and look good by means of cigarettes, alcohol, and eating only junk, but not enough to get fat, only enough to really be unhealthy, than be healthy, eat pretty well, exercise fairly regularly, do good for their minds and souls, and maybe be a bit overweight--sad, but true, and they want the same for their children. when this society realizes that the journey--of treating oneself with compassion, in terms of eating whole foods, exercising in a beneficial way, being kind to others, living ones truth--is more important than a seemingly finished goal of just looking good i.e. looking like what madison avenue convinces people they "should" look like so that people buy their products--society will be better, and books like maggie goes on a diet would not be written. maybe maggie thinks for herself, maggie does good deeds, maggie tries hard, maggie tells the truth, maggie is careful to treat herself and others with respect, maggie is conscientious about treating her body well, would be written instead.

(2) ana, August 28, 2011 2:42 PM

no more junk food!

i also recommend the berenstain bears book to people. i read it as a child and it is very helpful in explaining good foods to eat and it's done in a way in which children want to follow brother bear and sister bear's example and choose apples and carrots as snacks instead of junk, in order to feel better. it saddens me when i see either well-meaning or not-thinking parents stuff their children with junk, thinking that is what children "should" eat or like to eat, as if even an underweight or normal weight child doesn't need proper nutrition, proper guidance, and proper meals, and as if these children won't become adults with weight problems and health problems after becoming addicted to unhealthy foods. my sister brings her children bags full of artificially flavored and colored candies, potato chips, cookies, cakes, and even feeds this to her children at mealtime as the meals, just happy that they're eating, and she has no idea that the children she's trying to get to eat, the children she's trying to force into happiness, are going to be miserable eating mostly sugar, and be miserable when they will end up overweight, or even skinny-fat, unhealthy, and depressed from getting very little whole food or nutrition. i've been trying to get the children to read the berenstain bears book, but they barely read--another problem in that household--and now they are and 11 and 9 years old, and a bit too old for that book. their mother actually makes a point of telling them "you don't have to eat anything you don't want, you don't have to try anything," even after one of the children said she wanted to try--wait for it--a piece of someone's whole wheat bread. no kidding. that's because my sister is so concerned with making "happy children" (her children are two of the most unhappy kids i've ever met), and she is so concerned about not bossing them around, that she's destroying their health and future. she does this with manners, spirituality, everything. not good.

(1) Anonymous, August 28, 2011 12:05 PM

Child obesity is a growing problem that we are currently facing

This is not a matter that we should dismiss or laugh at.Children who are overweight can develop many health problems later on in life such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes,high cholesterol levels,asthma, development problems in the feet, liver disease, sleep apnea etc.Some children may face these problems even before they reach adulthood.Obesity can also affect the child’s emotional and mental health. He or she may have low confidence or self-esteem, and being obese can also lead to eating problems, such as bulimia, and depression.The holistic way to approach this matter is by limiting the intake of junk food in the house.Parents can encourage healthy eating among their children by cooking healthier meals and having their children to snack on fruit, vegetables, and nuts instead of cookies and potato chips.Children also need motivation to be more proactive and spend more time outdoors than indoors playing computer/video games and Wii.While starving oneself is not the solution to achieving weight loss,not monitoring what you eat can also exacerbate the problem. I once was overweight in my teens and it was one of the worst years of my life.I felt depressed,ugly,worthless,hopeless,and dealt with all the emotional problems as well as high blood pressure and cholesterol that came with being overweight.It was not a pleasant experience needless to say.I combated and overcame my weight problem by making several lifestyle changes.I made time to physically get myself back into shape by exercising and portion control.No one is saying that your child has to be emaciated.There is nothing wrong (at least from my vantage point) about inspiring children to eat healthier either.Children (and even adults) shouldn't have to rely on junk food to boost their stamina. There is a time and place for treats but it shouldn't be an integral part of your diet.


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