You might be able to eat balanced and healthy meals all year- it might be easier for you to control ingredients and portions during the week but there is something about the holidays that lends itself to a yearly self fulfilling prophecy of overeating and weight gain. It does not have to be that way! We have to prevent it from spiraling into an overindulgence that negates the hard work you do eating healthy all year. It is important to accept that the food and eating over yomtov should, and is going to be different than every day and even shabbos but that does not mean that you can’t make choices and prioritize what is most important to you.
There are certain foods that we don’t want to say no to because it wouldn’t be a holiday without them- so eat them, and enjoy them but if you are choosing that, sacrifice another. You love your grandmother’s honey cake so eat it! Have a piece and enjoy it but prioritize, for example, “I would rather have the cake than potato kugel at my meal”. Make your indulgences worth your while. I have a client that loves chocolate but she only allows herself to have it if she is sitting down with a cup of tea. She makes sure its not simply a Hershey's, this way when she has a treat it truly feels like a conscious decision instead of a regrettable impulse. No-one wants to hear about how fat you are, how full you are, how nautious you are from the way that you ate. Eat and enjoy with these healthy holiday strategies in your back pocket.
- All eating must be done while seated- no picking in the kitchen- those calories add up!
- Don’t skip breakfast - eat something to get your metabolism going and to prevent overeating at lunch. Similarly, eat an afternoon snack before dinner. Don’t go into meals hungry- you will end up overeating, especially challah. Move the challah out of arm’s reach.
- Be active - take a walk, do people favors, don’t be lazy.
- Don’t let 1 thing throw off your plan - it’s much easier to make up for 1 mistake than for more.
- Set realistic goals - make a list of how you will feel if you follow your plan and read it before every meal.
I like to have 1 “unlimited dish” at every meal. Yom tov meals can be long and we often end up eating more and more as the time goes on even though we are not hungry anymore. Make 1 dish that is just vegetables- no sauce, oil, or dressing this way you can munch on that guilt free the whole time. Although it’s not great to eat a whole bowl of anything, it is much better to eat a whole bowl of string beans than a whole cranberry crunch!
Most importantly, be selfish- try to create a “no fail environment” for yourself. Everyone will survive without that dessert that you can’t resist. Your family and friends should and will want to support you in making this year a year filled with health and happiness.