For any Frum individual trying to make healthy food choices, Shabbos provides a unique challenge. The weekly meals consist of minimally 3 courses and include, fresh thick challah, a plethora of side dishes and appetizers, an abundance of dishes for our main course and end off with a delicious dessert (more than likely more than one). There is no doubt that without staying focused and choosing our menus wisely, we will fail to maintain or lose weight over the weekend.
But the Yomim Tovim can present an even bigger challenge. We have consecutive large meals, day after day. In order to succeed, you are going to need a well thought out plan of attack,with good choices and portion control, you can do it. Weight gain does not need to be your Yom Tov destiny. It can easily be prevented when armed with the following easy to uses suggestions.
Plan ahead: Planning ahead might be the most important step. If you know on erev yom tov, that in the evening you will be indulging in a four-course dinner, eat wisely during the day. Make sure to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, choose low fat foods and drink plenty of water. Fruits and vegetables are high in fibre and will keep you full for longer. Prepare fruit and vegetable platters for you and the family to snack on during the day as well as throughout Yom Tov. By saving calories throughout the day, you can eat a bit more later without feeling laden with guilt. It’s important to note though, that we should not go into a meal starving, people tend to overeat when they are hungry. Be sure to eat light but healthy meals during the day to ensure normal portions at dinner.
Be active: Take advantage of the beautiful fall weather and be outdoors! Take your children, grandchildren, nephews or nieces for a walk or to the park. Play with them, don’t just sit and watch. On Chol Hamoed- exercise, take an evening speed walk, do an exercise video or be active with the kids. Exercising is the most efficient way to burn extra calories and keep your body toned-even if you are eating more than usual.
Portion Control: When eating a meal, stick to healthy portion sizes. Try filling at least half your plate with fresh or cooked vegetables. Fill another quarter of your plate with a starch and the last quarter with a protein. By doing this, you will feel comfortably full but not bloated. If you have many choices on the table, take only a small amount of each one, and try to stick to one portion of each. You may allow yourself to indulge, but limit your indulging to once per day, and take only a small piece. Eat a small portion of dessert, but reserve some calories throughout the meal by choosing the salad and not the potato kugel. An important tip is to stick to 1 thin piece of challah per meal. Don’t eat it all at once, nibble at it throughout the meal. Challah is essentially cake, limit your intake, it can make all the difference
Experimenting: If you are the cook for the family, try introducing healthier ingredients in your recipes. For many baked goods, applesauce can be substituted for oil or soy milk for heavy cream. Create a menu that is rich in vegetables-you’ll be surprised to see who might be eating them! Try some of these nutrient packed recipes from Kosherscoop.com.
- Balsamic Roasted Cauliflower is a side dish that is low in fat, full of flavor and easy to make.
- This Corn on the Cob Salad is filling and full of different vitamins and minerals. The colors will brighten up any table and it is definitely a healthy choice.
- What could be better than this Roasted Vegetable Medley? It will add color to your table, it’s packed with nutrients and full of flavor. What’s great about these is that you can store the leftovers in the fridge and snack on it all day long without any guilt!
Be aware of extra calories: We start off every meal with honey. Honey is high in calories. Try to drizzle or lightly dip your challah. Soda is full of empty calories which can lead to weight gain. Try choosing water and if you would like soda, be sure to choose diet.
Too often, we end this season feeling guilty. Try to make this year different for you and your family and jump into this New Year feeling great! Follow these tips, be creative, experiment and more important- enjoy your time with your family and friends!