Three-day holiday is full of culinary health challenges

Health Ministry gives tips for surviving Rosh Hashana followed by Shabbat, like leave the fish cleaning to the experts.

gefilte fish 311 (photo credit: Bob Fila/Chicago Tribune/MCT)
gefilte fish 311
(photo credit: Bob Fila/Chicago Tribune/MCT)
With the two days of Rosh Hashana unusually followed by Shabbat this week, the holiday period will be a long haul. Various experts and authorities have issued recommendations to cope with the holidays that fill most of the Hebrew month of Tishrei.
The Health Ministry reminds the public not to clean raw fish on their own but to leave it to experienced fishmongers who wear gloves. Fish is especially popular for Rosh Hashana, as the head is a symbol of starting the new year.
The reason for the reminder is that pond fish such as amnun (St. Peter’s fish), buri (mullet) and denis are often infected with Vibrio Vulnificus bacteria. These are harmless when the fish is cooked, but they hide on the scales and fins of the raw fish and can cause infections when they enter the skin, especially in people who have a weak immune system or suffer from chronic illness.
In addition to serious infections, the bacteria can also cause severe pain, swelling and sepsis; it has even killed some people in the past. Last year, there were three proven cases of Vibrio infection from handling raw fish.
The ministry gave the following tips for healthy fish shopping: buying fish only from licensed shops and supermarket chains; making sure all fish are displayed behind a glass window and on a bed of ice with a -4º Celsius temperature; not purchasing fish directly from open stalls or fish ponds, as they may not be kept under suitable conditions; not coming into direct contact with raw fish, scales or fins; and taking home only fish that has been cleaned before purchase.
District health officers have been asked to report Vibrio infection cases to the ministry.
As for meals, experts at Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba advise parents not to give honey to children less than a year old and not t o feed children up to the age of four years with bits of hard food that can cause them to choke.
These include hard fresh vegetables or fruits (like apples or pomegranate seeds), nuts, raisins and dried fruits. Such food can be ground or mashed and given to children carefully by an adult who sits next to babies and toddlers.
Hot liquids such as soups should be distributed in individual plates and cooled for children and not taken from a central serving piece.
Children should also be kept away from electric samovars, kettles and hotplates, and have the handles of pots and pans facing inward to prevent them from bumping or reaching them.
Candles should not be placed near flammable objects such as curtains.
For those who want to keep their weight steady during the holidays, dietitians advise eating only small amounts of calorie-laden, sweet foods and to drink a lot of water as well as choosing complex carbohydrates (including full-grained products) over plain starches and sugars.
Walks and exercising are encouraged through the holidays.
Meanwhile, Yad Sarah – the largest volunteer organization in the country – said Sunday that it provided 260,000 pieces of medical equipment in the last year, saving NIS 1.5 billion for the economy by reducing hospitalization.
More than 420,000 people benefited from a wide variety of services to the elderly, lonely and sick provided by over 100 branches around the country. This was a 3.3 percent increase over the previous year.
Forty Nechonit vans for the wheelchair-bound took the disabled on 126,000 trips to hospitals, family events and others. The medical equipment display centers, which offer solutions to those who prefer to remain at home rather than being institutionalized, serviced 16,600 people, while the emergency beeper system is hooked up to 18,800 people who live alone. Nearly 10,000 dental treatments were given to the elderly, and free legal advice was provided to 6,600 old people.
The 34-year-old voluntary organization had a NIS 70 million budget provided by donations.