If cooking, hosting, being invited during the chagim makes you anxious, this blog post is for you!
I’ve put together my favorite tips for handling these situations when you have health and wellness goals.
Making and keeping healthy food choices can be challenging and even more challenging during the Chagim.
Our beautiful Jewish calendar is a busy one. Before we know it, we have the next Simcha or Yom Tov and it is always surrounded by food.
Foods that are based on traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation and, over time, become a part of the special occasion.
We look forward to being with the family, cooking their favorite traditional food and yet we worry about the weight gain and going off track.
I hear it all the time from my clients…
It is during stressful times that I have no control over my food and lose track of my hard work.
How can I prepare for the upcoming Chagim without overdoing it?
But in living a healthy lifestyle, the Chagim don’t need to be “all or nothing.” You can enjoy your meals, enjoy your dessert if you want, and still be “on track.”
These special days and family gatherings are important and fuel the soul, enjoy them. With a little bit of mindfulness, you can still enjoy while staying on track with your wellness goals.
Let me give you the 8 tips that can keep you on the healthy track while enjoying the fullness of the Chaguim or Smachot.
Plan your menu ahead of time and have enough alternatives for yourself, cook them first and freeze them if possible, so you don’t put yourself last. Knowing what’s on the menu can really help your self-care. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be flexible at all, but can reduce some of the decision-making that you have to do at the moment of eating.
Feeling out of control around food or about being in a stressing situation may trigger your cravings. If possible, try to plan ahead and aim to stick to your regular eating routine. The temptation may be there to skip meals –but I highly recommend eating your protein and vegetables.
2. Don’t “save” your calories.
Do what you would normally do: The idea that you can “save” calories during the day so that you can enjoy more calories later on is not healthy. It is better to eat your 3 meals a day with the right protein, vegetables and healthy carbs than skip them. Your blood sugar will be balanced and you will be more likely not to overeat mindlessly
3. Eat your vegetables.
There are so many ways of preparing and eating vegetables in a healthy way. Including veggies on your plate for Chag, keeps you full and satisfied longer. The fiber in vegetables is key, and it’s something that many traditional dishes tend to lack in our Jewish cuisine.
Including fiber will keep you full and satisfied so that you can enjoy the meals with better balance and control.
If you are invited and not sure about their veggie options during the meal, you can offer to bring a dish!
Want some ideas? Check out my Salad E-book – Healthy Salads to Enhance your Table
4. Portion Control
The Seudot are all about abundance BH, and that can lead us to overeating. But you can take control without missing out.
Fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables and salads. Make that slice of kugel a little smaller than you normally would and take your time to eat, by chewing enough times which will help digestion and give your brain adequate time to signal to your stomach that you’re full.
5. Keep your hydration a priority.
Chagim periods are often super hectic, so it’s easy to neglect your water intake. Make sure you don’t forget your hydration throughout the day.
Especially, since you may be having more alcohol, sweets, and sodium than you usually do! Drinking enough water will help you to be less hungry during meals and prevent bloating.
6. Drink lemon water & teas.
Drinking warm lemon water when you wake up, it will help flushing out all the toxins out of your body as well as getting your digestive system moving, especially after so much food.
If you know me by now, you know I am a big fan of fennel tea when it comes to ending a meal. Whether you’ve had a little too much to eat during the meals or just want some help soothing your stomach and improving your digestive system, tea can be a great way to relax and unwind after a meal. Tea also comes with a variety of digestive benefits, helping the body to metabolize rich foods and banish bloating.
PS: As Chagim may fall on Shabbat, if you don’t have the custom to use the Kli Sheni or Kli Shlishi to drink tea, don’t forget to prepare tea essence before Shabbat which involves cooking tea bags before Shabbat, thereby making a tea concentrate. On Shabbat, you can then pour the tea concentrate into a Kli Sheni containing hot water to enjoy your tea. For more details check this source
7. Stay Active:
We cannot do the regular workouts on chag (besides Chanuka) but we can walk, walk and walk – while exercise is not only recommended for weight management, it is also important to remain active for your overall health and well-being.
There is always enough time to go for a walk or go and visit friends or relatives. Don’t be lazy and stay active – What’s not to like about walking? It’s free. It’s easy to do, and it’s easy on the joints and will help your digestion after meals.
8. Be Kind to Yourself.
Last but not least, self care. Sometimes, we might experience self-criticism and shame if we think that we have eaten too much, or our eating has led to other behaviors that we are not happy with. Can you relate? It’s important to be able to reflect on our behaviors, but remember that our eating, and our weight, do not define our worth as a person.
Even if you eat a bit too much or didn’t follow your initial plan- the key is to be kind to yourself and move on rather than feel guilty about it. Remember you are good enough no matter what you eat.
“Mindful eating is eating with intention
while paying attention,
without stressing about your food”
Chagim can have a bad reputation for weight gain, but it is not because people are gaining weight from enjoying some cheesecake. There’s a big difference between eating the apple Kugel and dessert versus stretching leftovers into a 2 week menu.
When you have leftovers, be mindful, you don’t need to eat them all, you can either freeze them or give some takeaway to your married children or someone in need.
Wishing you a Mindful and enjoyable Chag