Navigating Yom Tov

In order to get through Yom Tov healthfully, preparation and planning is required.   The key is to enjoy your Yom Tov and Shabbos meals without gaining a lot of weight or harming your health.  This is where the planning comes in.  If you plan every meal through Simchas Torah, you and your family will be much better off.

Please keep the following in mind:

It’s a mitzvah or Minhag to eat certain foods on Yom Tov, but it is NEVER a Mitzvah to overeat—the opposite is true.

Planning

  • First and foremost, when cooking and baking, don’t overdo the tasting!  Yes, you will want to “taste” to know that it’s the way you want it, but that’s all!
  • Figure out how many people total you will be having at each meal and plan your menu and shopping accordingly.  Buy enough, but if you overbuy, you will probably feel an obligation to finish everything you serve.
  • This is where we all get in trouble:  If something is extra or left over, it should either be thrown away or stored in the refrigerator or freezer.  Finishing something up just for the sake of finishing it will always get you into trouble with the extra calories.
  • Always save something for the next day! Remember, there are a lot of meals. Even if you have some great ideas in mind for some nice savory dishes, you have plenty of Yom Tov and Shabbos meals in which to implement your gourmet and creative cooking.

How many Courses?

  • We tend to want to have multiple courses at every meal.  With all of the challah and wine from Kiddush, a main course and dessert, do we really need anything else?
  • Some suggestions: make the first course at some meals melon or some other fruit, or a variety of healthy fresh salads, or go right into the soup course.

 Desserts

  • Keeping your desserts healthy most of the time is very beneficial. In the summer time especially, fresh fruit, particularly melons and watermelon is a good dessert choice.
  • Instead of using pareve whips, which are full of trans fats, you can whip egg whites into a fluff and add any type of frozen fruit, such as strawberries and whip them together and freeze them.
  • Keep in mind that if you do use fruit or dried fruits, keep your portions under control.  Even though the sugars are natural, excessive amounts contain a lot of calories.
  • Stay away from “diet” foods—“no sugar” cookies and low fat cakes can have as many calories as other high calorie desserts. Somehow we fool ourselves into thinking that because they are “diet” foods we can eat more.
  • At times, that cake your daughter baked might just be so tempting you just have to have a piece.  For a meal or two, that can be okay, but take a small portion.  Even if a dessert contains unhealthy ingredients, if a person can control his/her portion, presuming that the rest of their meal portions were kept under control, this may be an option.

Stay Active

  • Exercise routines are difficult to keep up with all the days of Yom Tov and the get-togethers we will have during Chol HaMoed.  Therefore, when we do have time, we should use it wisely!
  • One important thing is staying active even without exercise.  We may not be able to go out and do exercise on Shabbos or Yom Tov, but we don’t have to sit around either.  Nice long, brisk walks, particularly after your meals, are a great idea.  It is not healthy or good for our metabolism to fall asleep immediately after a meal.  When you are finished with the walk, stretch a little and then you can take your nap.

By preparing and planning your eating and exercise for Yom Tov and Chol HaMoed, you can “add hours to our day, days to your year and years to our life”.