Passover is a week of matzo and matzo based foods, large, often rich Yom Tov or holiday meals. If one combines the eating with all the stress involved in cleaning, shopping and readying the family for Passover, many of us might experience compromised digestion and possible dreaded weight gain.
Here are some easy to follow Passover Week Survivor Tips to help you meet the holiday challenge. These tips will make the season a more pleasant experience; easier on the stomach and waist line. They incorporate adding great quality whole foods to your menus and recipes, moving your body more and finding ways to reduce stress and tension.
When planning your menus this year use plenty of fruits, vegetables and nuts as you focus less on heavy kugels, other starchy side dishes and high calorie sweet desserts. Think of all the preparation time you will save by keeping it simple and how many less bowls you will have to wash as you choose unique varieties of whole foods.
Suggested side dishes include: colorful salads, roasted or steamed vegetables and if tradition allows, cold or warm quinoa based dishes. You will enjoy and appreciate their color, texture and flavour.
o boost taste and provide added health benefits use plenty of onions and garlic for their cleansing and antibiotic properties. For an added kick, experiment with hot peppers. These feisty taste enhancers are known to speed up the metabolism and provide pain relief to stiff and sore muscles.
Fruit can be prepared fresh, cooked or frozen. Just be sure to keep the added sugar to a minimum. Most recipes that call for sugar can easily have the amount in the recipe cut in half without affecting the sweetness of the dish. By choosing more whole fruits and vegetables, you help your digestive system work more efficiently, while maintaining your waistline, as you increase your fibre and water content. Please add olive oil to your salads or other foods as it is now believed that good quality fat doesn’t make you fat.
A perfect Passover food mixture, Charoset, is a delightful combination of apples, wine, cinnamon and nuts. Its color and consistency is reminiscent of the mortar which the Jewish People used to bond the bricks in Egypt. This once-a-year blend of ingredients is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and omega-3s, and as well, has numerous antioxidant properties.
If you don’t regularly drink plenty of water, challenge yourself this holiday to drink more water than you usually do. Water helps with digestion and also gives you the feeling of fullness. We now know that feelings of hunger might actually mean thirst. Instead of going for the Passover brownies or chocolate covered matzo, drink a glass of water, wait 10 minutes and see if the hunger sensation disappears.
While you might not have time for your usual exercise routine during Passover, make the effort to spend time out in the fresh spring air and walk for at least 15 minutes each day. You’ll benefit in more ways than you think. The walk will get you moving, burning calories and will assist in keeping the bodily functions working as they should.
And finally, please Breathe Breathe and Breathe. Create ways to remember to take a few deep cleansing breaths periodically to help you wash away and release any pent up weighty emotions building through the bustle of the holiday. This letting go will free up tremendous amounts of energy and send it to where it is needed most, your digestive system and metabolism and peace of mind.
I hope these few tips will prepare you for a more healthful Passover and may you thrive - and not just survive - this holiday season.
Nili Abrahams, Certified Holistic Health Coach at Choose Life Nutrition, integrates Health and Wellness with Torah’s Wisdom.