Have a happy – and healthy – New Year

Seven meals on two days of the holiday and Shabbat can be a caloric explosion unless one sets limits.

Food [illustrative] (photo credit: REUTERS)
Food [illustrative]
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Jewish New Year – Rosh Hashana – with its family togetherness and atmosphere of spiritual cleanliness, is welcome to many, but can also pose dangers and health risks. This year, especially, seven meals on two days of the holiday and Shabbat can be a caloric explosion unless one sets limits.
Dafna Ziv Bosani, a dietitian in the nutrition department of Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva, warns that infants before their first birthday must not be given honey because of allergens against which they do not have protection. As for older children and adults, she said that honey is as rich in simple carbohydrates as white and brown sugar. None of these are recommended for diabetics, and other people should also not exaggerate in their consumption.
Fish, however, provide high-quality protein, especially fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sole and halibut, which live in fresh water and have high levels of Omega 3 fats that reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and improve memory. Eating fish once a week helps protect the heart and the brain. But it is better to bake them than to fry them to avoid the high calories.
Pomegranates contain large amounts of antioxidants and are thus healthy if eaten in reasonable amounts, as they contain a lot of natural sugar.
Bosani advised eating two small meals and two larger ones each day. It is recommended to eat one of the smaller meals before the larger, festive meal in order to eat less in it.
Remember that a glass of wine equals between 90 and 160 calories each. Don’t go overboard with the traditional honey cake; share your slice with someone. Try to eat a lot of fresh salads without dressings and cooked vegetables to feel full.
Beterem – National Center for Child Safety and Health advises parents to keep children at a safe distance from the oven and stove. Never hold a baby while cooking or drinking a hot drink. It’s preferable to use the back burners when cooking and always keep the handles facing backwards, inside and sideways so children cannot reach them. Do not place hot drinks at the edge of the counter tops, on a tablecloth or on the floor. Keep matches and lighters out of young children’s reach.
To keep children under five safe while eating, cut hard fruits and vegetables into very small pieces so they don’t choke. Cut fish into small pieces and make sure the bones and other hard pieces are removed. Instead of giving young children pomegranate seeds, give them pomegranate juice. Make sure you remove the pits from dates and cut the fruit into small pieces.
Cake with nuts or raisins should not be given to small children, who also should be told not to run or play while they eat.
When taking youngsters on trips, remember that children up to the age of two should be put in car seats with their backs to the front of the vehicle. The safest place for children in a vehicle is in the middle of the back seat. They must never be seated behind hidden airbags. Never leave young children – even for a second – alone in the vehicle.
As for adults who don’t want to gain weight during the long holiday period, including Succot (the Yom Kippur fast is negligible in preventing weight gain), replace fatty cheese with skinnier ones or with yogurt, advises Sigal Friedman of the Rabin Medical Center. Quiches can be made without dough. Instead of wheat flour or corn flour, try ground oatmeal, which has fiber. Try to replace margarine and butter with canola or olive oil. Even applesauce can replace oil and reduce the number of eggs needed.
If using eggs, try to use the whites without the yolks. Avoid drinking fruit juices; tea and water are preferable. Prefer unpeeled vegetables, if possible, for more fiber.
Prefer meats and poultry with less fat and without the skin. Avoid hamburgers, lamb, goose, internal organs and the like. If possible, buy meat and ask the butcher to remove the fat before grinding instead of purchasing ready-made ground meat.
To reduce weight gain, go outdoors for long walks and other exercise.