Is there anyone who does NOT love Chanukah? It really is an awesome holiday – for so many reasons and not just for the yummy treats or gifts! There is definitely something special and very tangible on the the days of Chanukah and one just needs to relish in the joy and goodness….
To help us get through Chanukah, I have compiled a list of 8 Healthy Tips for the 8 Nights of Chanukah, to keep the Health while we share in the festivities. Of course, if you have more to add – by all means – please do!
1. Latkes CAN be healthy!
Generally, when we think of Chanukah, Latkes will make it in the top 3 things. However most of us equate latkes with oil, grease, clogged arteries, and weight inducing carb snacks. I am here to tell you that Latkes CAN be healthy! Instead of using white potatoes, why not have fun with sweet potato latkes? Or carrot? Or zucchini? A neighbor of mine once recommended that I try celery root instead of potatoes. She said that the consistency of the celery root is very similar to that of potatoes and has a good taste. (I’ve never tried it, if you have, let me know how your opinion!) As for oil – when I was single my motto was “the more oil, the better the latke” while that has some truth to it, you can have the same delicious tasting latke WITHOUT the gallons of oil.
2. Creating HEALTHY traditional foods: Oil & Dairy:
One of my very first and very long posts on The 5 Pillars was a post about TOO MUCH food. I observed that each holiday comes with customary foods, but yet we somehow we have created the most unhealthy foods possible! Are you telling me that our ONLY option for eating a food with “oil” is a donut?! How about using oil on a salad? That’s blasphemous … and for dairy – we have come up with danishes and cheesy fettuccini. I really think it’s time for a wake- up call and realize that we can STILL enjoy tradition and health at the same time. All medical people will tell you that Olive oil is so healthy and good for you – and dairy has so many nutrients and is very beneficial. But why combine it with white flour and sugar? I invite you to challenge yourself a bit this holiday and create healthier traditional foods!
3. The kids do NOT need 8 gifts.
I have found in the past few years more and more parents giving their children a new gift for EVERY night of Chanukah. While I am a huge fan of all things gift related – I feel this is really an idea that needs careful consideration. (if you are a mom who does give their child a gift each night – this one is for YOU!) Let’s think about it for a moment. Sure, it seems like such a wonderful tradition and I’ve witnessed it myself. You light the menorah with the family, sing the Chanukah songs, and then comes the presents! It really completes the evening and it makes the whole holiday more fun. Yes, I will agree with you on that. Now, let’s understand why this is a terrible habit for a parent (or anyone) to get into.
a. Fact: by the time night number 4 comes, the child has already forgotten about gifts 1,2, and 3 because the most exciting gift is the one he’s about to open
b. The child will be unable to appreciate the gift itself because he has so many. An example of this – and I saw this with my own eyes – I once saw a woman give her nephew who was about 10 years old one of the Harry Potter books on Chanukah. He looked at it and said “oh, I don’t like this book…” he literally threw the book aside and went to open his next gift. I was SHOCKED. Granted, he might not have liked it, but his open lack of appreciation and excitement for the present, and his immediate turning to “what’s next” was mind boggling!
c. Next problem: TOO MUCH STUFF! Does a child really need SO many new toys? He will get bored of all of them too soon….does a little kid really need 8 new toys in one week? If you say yes, that means you have taught your child that its quantity and not quality.
d. The 8 gifts for each night will become a standard and a very unhealthy expectation that your kids will have each year.
e. Since when is Chanukah about presents? Ok, let’s be honest – we all know that through the years, giving gelt also turned into giving gifts – and I’m totally ok with that (hey – I just gave my dad MY Chanukah wish list!) but, in reality overwhelming the children with gifts cheapens the holiday as the focus becomes the toys and not the Yom tov itself.
f. This is a HUGE pressure on parents (aka – mom) to shop and wrap ALL the gifts! Doesn’t she have enough to do?!
So I say – if you’re a huge fan of giving Chanukah gifts – limit it to one or two…. Maybe at the beginning of the Chag and at the end …or something like that. But definitely not 8.
4. Party Pooping.
Here’s a great tip: not every night needs a party. I have realized that I can’t do the 8 nights of partying thing. I used to love having my calendar FILLED with parties and events. The Shul party, the family party, the in laws family party, the neighbors who consider us family party, the other neighbors who always invite us party, the town menorah lighting, (ok that’s already 6 parties AND I haven’t included a special Chanukah Shabbos !)
I remember about a year or two ago, I mentioned to my friend that as much as I loved getting dressed up and celebrating, these parties were getting a little tiring! I recall my friend telling me that she never gets invited anywhere, doesn’t have any parties to go to – so I shouldn’t complain about having so many invites…. Well, that Shut me up! But the truth is, that it became too much! I was finding that after the first few nights – it was TOO Much. I needed a break! So I’ve realized to just say no… I won’t even put it on my calendar lest I feel pressured to go, or feel bad about cancelling because I have learned that it’s just too much partying (and too much of the same latkes, donuts and lasagna food!)
5. Avoid the malls:
Even for me as a budding minimalist, this one is a bit difficult; but if you want to stay in the spirit of the holiday and not get swept up in the commercialized holiday feeling, your best bet is to STAY away from the malls. If you need to buy gifts – decide ahead of time what to buy or decide to go to a specific store and that’s it. Roaming the malls is asking for trouble!
I was recently talking to one of my sisters in law and she was telling me how she LOVES going to the malls this time of year because of the massive sales and she stocks up on random stuff. While I love me a good sale (not really) – this is a very scary and slippery slope – before you realize it, you may have over-purchased things you don’t really need and you only bought it because it was on sale. (of course, if there’s something you need – BUY all means – BUY it ) I’m just saying – be careful.
6. Miracles! Miracles!
My dad said the other day – Chanukah is a time for miracles. (actually , I think everyone says this J) It’s a good time to acknowledge the miracles in our life. This might be hard if you haven’t really felt any huge miracles – so an easier thing would be to acknowledge through gratitude. After the Menorah is lit, haneiros halalu/ma os tzur has been sung, and the kids are finished with the dreidel game, take a moment to sit by the menorah – with a pen and a notebook and jot down what beautiful things G-d has given in your life – and allow the warmth of the menorah lights wash the gratitude and contentment over you. Try it – you might like it! If you want to take this exercise a step further – in the spirit of Chanukah begin a Gratitude Journal. Each night jot down 10 things you were grateful for that day. I say 10 things because its not that much, but its not that small either. If you feel challenged finding 10 things to be grateful about your day – then this exercise will be great for you!
7. Spread a little light in the world –
Now that you’ve brought the warmth and beauty of the lights into your heart and being, time to spread the light to the rest of the world! My hubby used to tell me that working in an office building every day – it was hard to feel the different times of year, the different seasons and the whole year becomes very routine. Chanukah is the PERFECT time to bring the holiday spirit into the everyday – because Chanukah is NOT a day of Yom Tov and Kiddush meals. It’s a day where most of us still have to go to work –unless you’re a rabbi or something. So bring the joy of Chanukah to your co-workers … or the people you interact with… maybe this means bringing in a special treat for everyone. Or creating a Secret Santa (we call it Mystery Maccabee in our family) Share the light baby!
8. The truth is I only came up with 7 tips
But how can I have 7 tips for 8 nights of Chanukah? Soooo I challenge YOU my readers – to come up with the 8th tip for a Healthy Chanukah!!!!!!!!
Wishing you all a delicious, AND nutritious Chanukah – filled with warmth, joy, happiness, and may the lights of the Menorah permeate the harsh darkness and uplift us all…..
You get the point
PS – a small reminder that you can still enter our Chanukah Giveaway! A winner will be announced on the 1st Day of Chanukah – Thursday December 2nd!!!!!!