It’s that time of the year again… but it certainly doesn’t feel the same. Once again, this Pesach may be with a smaller crowd than usual. Despite all the changes and challenges we are going through with the Coronavirus, getting through Pesach with our health and weight intact is still possible – and perhaps even more important now than in previous years.
Keeping your health, and particularly your immune system, working well are paramount to helping you fight off infectious diseases. A few tricks and some self-discipline can get you through Pesach without compromising your health and well-being.
10 Tips for a Healthy Pesach
1. Don’t skip meals – especially right before the Seder. Make sure you eat a healthy breakfast and a light meal before the Seder. Remember: you will not eat your Pesach meal until late, and if you are very hungry, you may overeat at the Seder meal and/or nibble on too much matzah.
As this year Seder will follow Shabbat, and the meals will be eaten earlier in the morning, try and have some fruits or nuts as an afternoon snack.
2. Yom tov meal planning – Plan healthy Pesach meals with YOU in mind. Just like on Shabbos, make sure there are healthy alternatives of your favorite dishes. There are a lot of healthy Pesach recipes on the Internet.
3. Sit down – When cooking, make sure to eat sitting down to avoid over-tasting. Put a piece of gum or a mint leaf in your mouth. The extra second it takes for you to remove the gum will give you time to think twice! Eating requires being seated at a table and having a real meal or snack. Don’t graze!
4. Avoid the “All or Nothing” approach to eating. If you overate at a meal or ate too much of an unhealthy food, move on and start making healthy, balanced choices again. Every small step helps. Remember: a tzadik falls 7 times and gets up 8.
5. Oil – It’s difficult to do, but keep your use of oil to a bare minimum. No matter what oils you use on Pesach, they are 100% fat and have an extremely high concentration of calories. Sautéing with water is doable and for further instructions on how to cook without any oil, watch these videos” https://www.youtube.com/watch?
6. Potatoes – DON’T BE AFRAID OF POTATOES. Potatoes have good nutrients, are fiber rich and are mostly water. Potatoes and sweet potatoes are extremely nutrient dense and they fill you up. BUT DON’T fry them or add oil! Serve them mashed, baked (with the skin is even better), or boiled. And all of these healthy carbohydrates will also burn easily when you are active and exercise.
7. Snacking -Make sure to have healthy snack foods handy. Overeating or eating too much of an unhealthy food often occurs because you are too hungry to make wise decisions, or there are no healthy alternatives. Keep cut up veggies, fruits, and nuts (limited to 10-12 per serving) for snacking.
8. Shopping and menus – PLAN PLAN PLAN!! Just as you are planning the Seder and your Pesach cleaning in advance, you can also plan your meals so that you are not left hungry or noshing unconsciously. Plan you daily menus, shopping and snacks so that you have plenty of healthy options and you don’t skip meals.
9. Portion control – In order to keep a handle on the over-eating problem, try this. Take a reasonable portion on your plate, and if you are truly still hungry after you eat what’s on your plate, take seconds of a cooked or raw vegetable or fruit. (If you are permitted to eat legumes, take a brown rice dish). Remember that drinking water may also make you feel full. So, drink up before you start your meal. And for all you matzah lovers out there… Remember that although we are commanded to eat matzah on Pesach, we are not commanded to eat mass quantities of it for the entire length of the chag!
10. Stay active – No need to do an exercise session during the Seder! But, don’t sit around either. Nice long, brisk walks, particularly after your meals, are a great idea. There is nothing worse than throwing yourself into metabolic rigor mortis by falling asleep immediately after a meal. When you are finished with the walk, stretch a little and then you can take your nap.
How many times do we hear that phrase during the year? Plan now so that after Pesach, you are committed and ready to take on a program that can change your health and your life! Set up an appointment for health and fitness assessment now. No more excuses!
Here is an easy to understand guide to basic exchanges between chametz items and Pesach staples.
Matzah – How much matzah can you eat? One square of matzah is equal to 2 servings of carbohydrates, and 1 round matzah is equal to 3 servings of carbohydrates. Try to buy whole wheat or spelt matzah. The fiber in whole grain matzah will help you feel more full, and may help counteract its other unpleasant effects.
Matzah meal or matzah cake meal is equal to 3 servings of carbohydrates.
Wine – 5 oz. of wine = 125 calories
Eggs – Although limiting eggs on Pesach is difficult, try to have no more than 5-6 eggs over the entire holiday period. Best is to eat them hard boiled and not fry or scramble them in oil or butter. Also, most recipes that include eggs can be made with far less than the suggested amounts.
Watching serving sizes, eating healthful choices, and staying as active as possible over the Pesach holiday are all ways to “add hours to your day, days to your year and years to your life.”