13 Tips to Weight Management During the Jewish Holidays
Holiday celebrations offer an array of temptations for partygoers to abandon
healthy nutrition habits, and calorie-laden festivities pose a special challenge
to the millions of Americans who are struggling with the proverbial "battle of
"The key to successfully navigating the impending Jewish holiday season is
to plan ahead," says , Netty Levine, MS, RD, a registered dietitian at
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's outpatient Nutrition Counseling Center. "Even
if you're working to manage your weight, you can enjoy the wonderful foods of
the Jewish holiday season as long as you do so in moderation," says Levine.
Here are 13 tips on how to maintain your weight during the Jewish Holiday
- Instead of "going on a diet," try changing the proportions of the
foods you eat - both at home and at holiday get-togethers. If you are
plating your own food at lunch and dinner, divide your plate into three
sections and fill half of it with raw or steamed vegetables, one-fourth with
starch and one-fourth with protein. Have fruit, baked fruit, or sorbet for
dessert. If lots of desserts are available, make a choice. There will always
be more desserts to try in the future.
- Enjoy those special holiday foods in moderation (use them like
condiments). Pass on the everyday nosh foods like crackers, chips, pretzels,
and dip. Instead, take small portions of special holiday items like honey
cake, tzimmes, kugels, gefilte fish, matzo ball soup, and the sweet-tasting
raisin challah. Remember these "extras" can often double the calories of
your holiday meal.
- Do a "trade-off." Eating more during the holidays can be - in part
- offset by a moderate and daily increase in physical exercise. Don't
have an hour to spare? Try 10- or 15- minute brisk walks at intervals
throughout the day. Take the "long way" home from the synagogue or take
an afternoon walk following the several-course holiday meal. Walking a mile
can burn about 100 calories.
- Before going to a family holiday feast or Succah party, try eating a small
portion of something healthy at home first. For example, you could munch on
some vegetable sticks or wedges of fruit. This will help curb your appetite
and you'll be less tempted to over-indulge on calorie rich foods.
- If confronted with a buffet set-up, gravitate toward the veggies and fresh
fruit and then go for the goodies in smaller amounts. There will be many
more buffets in the future!
- Head for the non-alcoholic drinks table. Alcohol can stimulate your
appetite and also contains a high number of "empty" calories. One glass
of wine can contain 100 calories. Try alternating a sip of wine with a sip
of water to "dilute" what you actually take in or drink only what you
have to for "Kiddush" before the meal.
- Skip high calorie beverages such as sodas, juices, smoothies and coffee
drinks. There are nearly 150 calories in one 12-oz. can of soda or juice.
Smoothies and coffee drinks range from 250-500 calories, before you add the
- Avoid skipping meals. Starving yourself before a get-together increases
the odds that you'll overeat once you get there.
- At holiday meals, try eating more of the roasted turkey, chicken, and lean
roast beef instead of the fried "schnitzel"or fried, coated chicken. Eat
smaller portions of the "kugels" or select plainer starches. If the
gathering is at your home, make some baked sweet potato as a choice for the
dieter who wants an alternative to the sweet potato or squash kugel.
- If the party is at your house, send the leftovers home with your guests.
- Nibble. Eating more slowly helps you eat less and still feel satisfied.
- From Rosh Hashanah until the end of Succoth, be satisfied with a goal of
maintaining your weight. Don't expect to lose much at this time of the
- Be positive. Remember that you control your weight; it doesn't control
SOURCE: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California. Press Release: 13 Tips to Weight Management During the Jewish HolidaysLast Editorial Review: 9/8/2010