By Miriam Leibowitz, MHSc, RD
Passover can be a stressful time when it comes
to what to eat, how much to eat, and the cost of what to eat. From late night wine
consumption to all the matzah we eat during the sedarim, maintaining
your typical diet can be difficult, not to mention expensive. Especially if you
have a medical condition or are just worried about putting on additional
weight, the fear of what to eat on Passover can be overwhelming. Here are some
simple strategies to help you overcome those food related obstacles head
Worried about the cost of making Passover?
Keep it simple by using basic ingredients like
oil, salt, pepper and other spices. Sit down and make a budget, keeping in mind
seder meals and guests you will be hosting. Plan in advance by writing
out your Passover meals and menu and stick to your grocery list when you shop.
Avoid impulse buying as those items are most likely to be expensive. Try to stay
away from processed foods that are Kosher for Passover (KFP), such as many
cookies, mixes, and cakes. These foods tend to be quite expensive and high in
fat, sugar, and calories. When you can bake from scratch, it won’t break the
budget and will be a lot healthier. Finally, become familiar with and refer to this COR
Passover magazine for items that do not require any special kosher certification
such as some oils, nuts, and sugars. Frozen fish is a good option and when you
can buy it at a place like Costco it keeps costs down. Frozen fish does require
a hechsher but, as stated in the COR Passover magazine, the following
brands are acceptable without a hechsher:
A) Kirkland Atlantic (Farm Raised) Salmon is acceptable as is for Passover when it bears the OU symbol
B) Kirkland Wild Frozen Salmon is acceptable
only after rinsing it off (OU)
Worried you may put on weight?
Keep in mind that if you maintain a healthy and
active lifestyle through the year, eight days of Passover in the grand scheme
of things shouldn’t set you back too much. That being said, it doesn’t mean you
shouldn’t plan ahead or try to make the best choices possible. If you have worked hard
improving your eating habits and exercising, keep the momentum going during the
holidays. While it may be difficult to lose weight during the holidays,
maintaining your weight may be a more realistic goal. In fact, SMART goal
setting is a successful strategy that you can use when it comes to making
positive eating behaviors. Make “SMART,”
specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-specific goals.
possible, choose whole wheat or spelt matzah for the sedarim, keeping in
mind that it’s not a mitzvah to overeat.Small meals are
recommended during the seder days. For the two sedarim meals, try
not to eat from 4 p.m. until the evening meal because the seder meals
are particularly rich and heavy. This can help balance your daily calorie
intake. Keep in mind that the seder meals don’t need to be “unhealthy”
as many of the foods typically eaten are nutritious items (eggs, romaine
lettuce and boiled chicken). It’s usually the quantity of food and extra-large
portion sizes that get us in trouble.
Another good strategy is to limit
Passover nosh to a minimum. Are you feeling stressed with all the cooking or
cleaning? Stay out of the Passover kitchen! If you are feeling
overwhelmed, you might be more likely to nosh on things if they are right there
in front of you. Change your environment by going for a refreshing walk to
clear your mind. If you do need a quick fix, choose some healthy snacks
like fruit, vegetables, yogurt, low-fat cheese, and nuts.
Worried because you are Diabetic or watching your sugar intake?
It is important to be conscious of the amount of matzah consumed and wine you drink during Passover, especially during the seder meals. Carbohydrates in starches like matzah as well as those in sweetened grape juice/wine can cause increases in blood sugar if they are not consumed in an appropriate amount. You might also consider using dry wine for the four cups of wine during the seder meal as they typically have lower sugar content.
It is also imperative to control your blood sugar by not skipping meals or starving yourself the day of the seder. Eating every 4-6 hours will help curb potential overeating at a meal. Incorporating physical activity, specifically after a large meal, is a great strategy to keep your blood sugar within appropriate targets. Choosing green vegetables in soups, sides, salads, and appetizers is a great strategy to incorporate as these foods are low in calories, low glycemic index, and high in fibre.
Many year-round recipes with vegetables can be duplicated or slightly modified during Passover. Spend time the weeks before Passover flipping through magazines and cookbooks for your favorite vegetable dishes. Cutting down on the amount and type of fat, specifically saturated and trans fats, are important dietary strategies. Substitute snacking on potato chips with almonds or using egg whites instead of whole eggs. Limit your portions of high fatty meats and briskets and balance those meals out by eating salads and vegetable sides.
Wishing you and your families a happy, healthy and kosher Passover!
Miriam Leibowitz is a Registered Dietitian in Toronto who runs a private nutrition counseling practice. She has an office in the Bathurst & Glencairn area and does home visits as well. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-937-7411 to book an appointment. Most extended health care plans cover the services of a Registered Dietitian.