In part 1 of this article in Monday’s newspaper, we mentioned different reasonable and attainable weight loss goals for Passover. We also covered how to maintain our health during the Passover preparations. Let’s take a look at how to navigate the holiday itself.
What to eat
As for the kinds of food we eat, everyone can make some subtle but significant, adjustments. Load up on vegetables and fruits and try to use whole-grain matzah. Even though meat and chicken dishes are more popular at this time of year, it is still important to keep the portion size small. Be sure to trim the fat from your meat.
Please remember that even though fish may have omega-3 fatty acids, it is still a source of fat, cholesterol and toxins, such as mercury and PCBs. So again, if you are indulging in these foods, keep them to a minimum. For dessert, go for fresh fruit salads, melons and sorbets instead of cakes and cookies, which are loaded with sugar and fat. Also, keep in mind that most parve ice creams contain chemicals and high-fat-based whips.
Lack of activity
Not being active for a week or more is detrimental to your health. Take nice long, brisk walks. Stay active in any way possible, such as parking your car far away from your destination and if you use public transport, get on and off a stop early. Use this time for family outings like taking your kids to parks or going on hikes. It’s a great way to spend family time and be active.
Staircases are always better than elevators. There is nothing worse than falling asleep immediately after a meal, so even a short outing after eating is helpful. When you are finished with the walk, stretch a little and then you can take your nap.
10 health tips to get you through Passover
HERE ARE 10 tips that will help you get through these festive days with your health intact:
- 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 Seder meal until late and if you are very hungry, you may overeat at the Seder meal and/or nibble on too much matzah.
- Holiday meal planning – plan healthy Passover meals with you in mind. Just like on Shabbat, make sure there are healthy alternatives of your favorite dishes. There are a lot of healthy Passover recipes on the Internet.
- Sit down – when cooking, make sure to eat sitting down to avoid over-tasting. Staying hydrated also helps curb your appetite so pay attention to getting good hydration with water. Don’t graze.
- Avoid the all-or-nothing approach to eating. If you overate at a meal or ate too much unhealthy food, move on and start making healthy, balanced choices again. Every small step helps. Remember: a righteous man falls seven times and gets up eight.
- Oil – it’s difficult to do but keep your use of oil to a bare minimum. No matter what oils you use on Passover, 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, you can search YouTube for “healthy cooking no oil” and watch videos. When you must use oil, use walnut oil in small amounts and don’t fry anything.
- Potatoes – don’t be afraid of potatoes. Potatoes have good nutrition, 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. All these healthy carbohydrates will also easily burn off when you are active and exercise.
- Snacking – make sure to have healthy snack foods handy. Overeating or eating too much unhealthy food often occurs when someone is too hungry to make wise decisions or there are no healthy alternatives. Keep cut-up veggies, fruits and nuts (limited to 10 per serving) for snacking.
- Shopping and menus – plan. Just as you are planning the Seder and your Passover cleaning in advance, you can also plan your meals so that you are not left hungry or noshing unconsciously. Plan your daily menus, shopping and snacks so that you have plenty of healthy options and you don’t skip meals.
- Portion control – I can’t over-emphasize how important it is to keep foods without fiber-like animal proteins, including eggs and dairy, to a minimum. In order to keep a handle on the over-eating problem, try to 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 or quinoa dish. Remember that drinking water may also make you feel full so drink up before you start your meal. And for all the matzah lovers out there, remember that although we are commanded to eat matzah on Passover, we are not commanded to eat mass quantities of it for the entire length of the holiday.
- Stay active – there is no need to do an exercise session during the Seder but don’t sit around either. As we mentioned before, 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.
After it’s all over
How many times do we hear about starting new things after the holidays? Now is the time to make plans and take action. After Passover, the weather usually warms up and you can plan to start walking more but be specific in your planning. What time of the day and for how long? What course will you be following?
If you prefer the gym, take out the membership now and plan which days you will be going and what time of the day. It’s time to learn what healthy eating is and to make that commitment to your health. Eating a mostly whole foods, plant-based diet is the single best defense against chronic disease and illness.
Immediately after Passover is our busiest time at The Wellness Clinic. It’s when we receive the most inquiries and when our schedule fills up. For those of you who let it go over Passover and throughout the year, it pays to get a head start.
It pays to get an individualized program that is geared toward restoring your health. Having our expertise and accountability is a big plus to help you get started or restarted and be able to sustain your accomplishments.
Good planning is always the key to success
Planning is the key. Plan before Passover, plan for during the holiday and plan now for afterward. Instead of saying “after Passover,” resolve to get started with good and healthful habits right now. Watching serving sizes, eating healthful choices and staying as active as possible over the Passover holiday are all ways to add hours to your days, days to your years and years to your life.
The writer is a health and wellness coach and a personal trainer with 23 years of professional experience. He is the director of The Wellness Clinic. He can be reached at [email protected]