Doing the Holidays Differently.

20 Sep

rh tableThis past summer, I was very involved with a few projects. They were fun, they were creative, and it was exhilarating getting my juices flowing, but now that the summer is over I am now able to reaffirm my commitments to my journey towards a healthy lifestyle. While I didn’t completely break away over the summer, I definitely became lax in certain areas and there were definite times when I put my work before me.

Tishrei is the WOST Time For ….

So, the first thing to ask is – why on earth would you re-commit yourself NOW?! We all know that Tishrei is absolutely the worst time of year for anything. Starting a new diet, beginning a new exercise regimen, or even organizing your life – Tishrei with all the holidays – it just does NOT work. Right?

And that my friends, is EXACTLY why I’m re-affirming my commitment to health NOW. Our Jewish calendar – there is AWLAYS a holiday, and there is ALWAYS a busy time of year. So often I say “after Chanukah I’ll get back to my diet” or “After Tishrei I’ll get to work on that.” It’s a great stalling tactic…. BEFORE Tishrei begins is the time that I’m sitting and mapping it all out. How am I going to eat? How MUCH am I going to eat? What are some buffers I can put into place that will ensure I don’t overdo it and end up being exhausted? My goal is to be able to ENJOY the holiday season as opposed to “getting through it,” and not going up a dress size in the process.

Alright – lets begin.


Pesach was my first big holiday that I cooked all by myself – and while the menu was gorgeous and the food was scrumptious – both my husband I gained about 10 pounds. (ok maybe less but you get the point) This will NOT happen again. I won’t allow it.

Obviously, holidays means FOOD… and more FOOD. And MORE FOOD ! (and leftovers). My idea for this year is one of two options. Either literally SKIP meals. Meaning, NOONE IS HUNGRY the second night of Yom Tov – at all. So why plan for a meal?

Schedule a late lunch – say, 4 pm… and I won’t need a full second night meal. This can also go for the third night, since all holidays are three day Yomim Tovim this year.

My husband didn’t really love this idea, so here’s idea number two.

EVERY night meal is a SMALL meal

EVERY lunch meal is a BIG meal

Personally – my goal is to combine those two ideas.

I think if we end up eating a formal night meal, it MIGHT turn into eating too much.

A) Menu:

Sure, we all make menus – its fun! But when I sit down and make my menu, I need to keep in mind my goal. Yes, I want to have traditional foods – but I need to concentrate on the healthier foods first.

I know everyone has their own comfort zones of what they would and would not do for Yom Tov foods, but my goal for this year is to focus on Raw Salads, a healthy protein (and by healthy I mean not smothered in any form of breading or sugar) and of course plenty of vegetables. I often forget that I need to supplement my meals with more kugels, or grain dishes – when there is absolutely nothing wrong with having more than one vegetable dish on the table.

B) Snacks & Breakfasts

Last year, I wrote a survival guide to Tishrei (Read Part 1 here and you can read Part 2 here) – I thought it was pretty good Smile I’m going to repeat what I said last year. Snacking and Breakfasting is a VERY important part of the holidays but often forgotten about. You know that ‘in between’ time – after you’ve woken up from a nap, but it’s a few hours till the Shul begins and prep starts for the evening meal? That’s the “snack time.”

And for breakfast – how many of us have a piece of cake in the morning before Shul? (guilty!) While a piece of cake here or there isn’t the worst thing in the world, having it first thing in the morning means right away we’re starting the day off on a Sugar Foot.

Of course Yom Tov is a special time, which means it’s a time for special foods and treats – this is why so many of us have sugary cereals, sodas, and cake products for noshing. Well, not this year. I hope to come up with new ideas of special drinks, or snacks that can be used that are considered special for the holidays. (PS- this would actually be a perfect time to use the Healthy Baking ideas that my friend Dena gave me – check out that blog post here)

C) Delegation

I’m including this here more for my readers than for me Smile Everyone I know is either going to BE a guest, or will HAVE guests. Obviously with great guests comes great exhaustion. The Number one solution for this problem is DELEGATION. If someone is a “regular” in your home, they better be chipping in! Many of us have a problem with delegating, feeling like we have to do it all, or that no one will do it correctly. No one understands this more than me. (hi, my name is Duby and I’m a micro-manager) To help you feel more comfortable with this, I suggest giving “half jobs” – meaning – if you’re making a special fancy Salad, that involves doing things a special way – instead of asking someone to “make the salad” – ask them JUST to cut the tomatoes, or JUST the carrots. And then you put it together the way you plan. OR, let’s say you want the table set a certain way – then show them ONE place setting for them to copy. (I know I know, easier said than done Smile)

D) Fancier Table Settings – Simpler Food:

The other day I was talking to a friend of mine and told her that sometimes it’s weird for me to eat my simple little salad but still feel all fancy on Shabbos. The solution – table settings.

Whether it’s the china, the stemware, the centerpieces or the special home décor – these things can make the most “boring” vegetables feel like a cuisine. It’s a difficult mindset to break! When we were doing our detox a few months back, on Shabbos we made our little meal and served it on my beautiful China. And it felt so strange because it was the same “weird” food we had during the week but somehow with the goblets and silverware – suddenly it felt so much fancier and more delicious!! (don’t believe me? Try it)

I’d also like to point out here that I have read MANY places that if you want to lose weight, eat on proper plates with knives and forks – it will cause less noshing by making the meals more official. Just a thought.

E. Erev Yom Tov – Hostess Pampering Time

stress cartoonThis was actually not my idea – but a friend of mine lives by this rule. (She specifically follows this rule on Erev Pesach since the Seder night is long but I like the idea of implementing it for other holidays as well) Imagine you have all your foods cooked, your salads cut and in the fridge, and the table is set. Wouldn’t it be marvelous to go out and get a manicure? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to take a small nap so you can be rested for the upcoming holiday ahead? I love this idea. Running around till the last minute on Erev Yom Tov is very stressful, and how could anyone enjoy the holiday if they begin the whole thing harried, frazzled and completely wiped out?!


I mentioned this last year in my survival guide, but I am making a point of repeating it. For this year holiday – I am SCHEDULING exercise. Sound silly? Yeah – maybe. But it’s quite crazy to imagine we go for days on a schedule that revolves around meals.

Wake up –> go to Shul –> Sit and Pray –> Come home –> eat huge meal –> feel stuffed –> all asleep –> wake up –> go to Shul

Do it all over again.

I know some of you may feel its not in the honor of the holiday to do exercise, but I think it’s one of the only ways to feel normal if you plan on joining the eating marathon.

Here are some ideas of Yom Tov approved exercise:

– Take a long walk after the meal. Strolling is not good enough. It needs to be long enough that you’ve burned off much of what you ate. So either power walk it.. or a a longer walk at a slower speed.

– Play with the kids! I asked my husband if playing ball is “allowed” on Yom Tov – and he didn’t really give me a full answer. I’m taking that to mean, its perfectly acceptable Smile Wouldn’t it be fun to have a little game of ball in the backyard? Which involves running of course. I’m thinking soccer … maybe dodge ball. How about Frisbee? Who’s up for a game?

– Stretching – print out a list or pictures of stretches and do them in the mornings and after the meals. (you can also do this with specific yoga poses)

– Sex. No need to explain Smile

– Clean the house. Washing the dishes, sweeping the floor, and cooking for the next meal is a another great alternative to just slumping on the couch.

– I’m sure you can think of more ideas…

You KNOW the Holiday Is Coming Up….

Yes yes, I know I know – easier said than done.

But ya know what? It’s really not. My friend tells me all the time, “you know the holiday is coming up. You KNOW what it entails. Sit down and plan it out!” And she couldn’t be more correct. If it means some extra organizing, freezing, enlisting help… isn’t it worth is so you’re not pulling your hair out? I certainly think so.

PS – I just want to say that I know many people who read this have MANY guests and have MANY children. Both I do not have. So you might feel that I’m a little naive in thinking it’s just so simple to map out your menu and it’s all set. No, I don’t think that’s the case. I spent MANY holidays at friends and family’s homes and I think I understand what it entails. And this is the part where I tell you – if you’re a woman and a hostess – and you’re beyond stressed and exhausted (in that non-healthy way) over Yom Tov – then it’s a fact that something needs to be changed. That’s all.

Well, that pretty much sums up my thoughts for this holiday season in the food department. I realize that I didn’t give practical food ideas – – and I think I’m omitting them this year, because my menus aren’t finished yet. However, if I’m feeling brave, maybe I will share with you my holiday menus at a later time… (shocking, but I’m a little shy Smile)

Shana Tova!

1 Comment

Posted by on September 20, 2011 in Mental Health, Physical Health, Spiritual Health


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One response to “Doing the Holidays Differently.

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