The perils of eating Jewishly
EVERY COUNTRY has a food or dish that people associate with it. Belgium has waffles; Australia has pavlova and Italy is known for pasta. And the kosher diet? Well, where do I start? Rogelach, cholent, herring, kugel, latkes, whiskey, challah. I could go on and on. So — can the kosher diet ever be healthy?
The answer, in short, is yes. However, it takes a lot of effort, dedication and hard work to stay on track, not gain weight and lead a healthy lifestyle.
I am the owner of a personal training company and I am also a religious Jew. I not only see, deal with and eat kosher food all day but also make sure that my clients stay on track and achieve success while being able to eat the foods they enjoy.
When it comes to a balanced diet, being Jewish can have an impact. The lifestyles we have, whether it involves a barmitzvah one week or a wedding the next, leads to a lot of temptation and overeating.
As for Shabbat — proceed with caution. When people ask me “How’s work?” my response is “as long as there is Shabbat, I’m in business!”
HOW DO WE GET AROUND SHABBAT, CHAGIM AND SIMCHAHS?
It all comes down to making the right choices, whether you’re cooking the food, or eating it. Additionally, your willpower will affect your eating habits. Don’t get me wrong — a Jewish/ kosher diet can be a very clean and healthy way of living. In fact, Israel (think salads, hummus, chicken shishlik...) rates in the top 10 countries for healthiest diets, as found by a study published in global health journal.
It’s all about control and discipline, like anything else in life. We have our equivalent of a Christmas meal every week. So what’s the game plan? I’m speaking more to the men out there. Kiddush, kiddush club, whatever your weakness — and you know what it is — you need to be able to make sensible choices and go with the right foods to fit in with your lifestyle (for ultimate success it has to be a lifestyle not a diet).
If you think you can have a bowl of cholent and kugel washed down with three whiskies every Shabbat and expect to lose weight, I’m here to tell you, get real!
I know how your Shabbat mornings start. They probably go something like this: two chocolate rugelach for breakfast, then off to shul for a couple of hours. Shul wraps up by midday but before you go out for lunch you have to eat at Benjy’s kiddush. Cholent, kugel, whiskies, herring etc.
Add the breakfast calories to this and you’re sitting on more than 1,200 calories by the time you sit down for lunch. I won’t go on — you get the picture. All right, I will. Combine lunch and then going out for dinner on Saturday night and you’ll be looking at 4,000 calories.
SO WHAT CAN WE DO?
Try the following on every Shabbat for the next month: on Friday night, focus on portion control; limit yourself to a single piece of challah and eat lean chicken rather than always consuming red meat. Cut back on the roast potatoes or kugel.
Change the way you approach Shabbat morning. Have a black coffee with a bowl of fruit-and-fibre cereal instead of the rugelach. When it comes to kiddush, swap the cholent and kugel for herring and a cracker. Lose all but one shot of whiskey and, for lunch, have just one portion. Resist seconds and choose fruit for dessert.
I guarantee your Shabbat will look at least 2,000 calories lighter and when you weigh yourself on Sunday morning, you will be pleasantly surprised that you are still at the weight you had worked so hard to achieve the week before.
Friday night can turn into a calorie-fest