As Rosh Hashnnah and the holiday season is now upon us, we set forth new resolutions as we look back on the past year and forward to the New Year ahead. This is a great opportunity to improve our habits and make important changes in our lives. Dafna Steiner, in Leket Israel’s Nutrition and Food Safety Department, prepared some easy and practical tips on how to stay healthy over this holiday season.
From The Desk of Dafna Steiner, Dietician at Leket Israel:
- Eat Varied and Balanced Meals: It is important for meals to be varied and include all types of food groups: grains and legumes, foods high in protein, lots of vegetables and fruits. Eating from diverse food groups helps us obtain many nutrients essential for our health.
- Eat Fish: In honor of our customary tradition to eat fish on Rosh Hashannah, we recommend that you eat fish as your main dish, either instead of or in addition to a meat. Fish is a great source of high quality protein and omega-3 (fatty-acid) in addition to other known health benefits. In order to maintain its nutritional value, it is better to bake or cook fish as opposed to frying it.
- Bring Legumes Into Your Meal: Legumes such as lentils, peas, chickpeas, fava beans and soybeans are cheaper options that are rich sources of protein. In order to fill the dietary need for protein from vegetarian sources, legumes must be eaten in conjunction with whole grains. We recommend eating legumes and whole grains throughout the day, in order to satisfy your daily nutritional value for protein. In addition, legumes are rich in iron, low in fat, and contain vitamins, minerals and fiber. Due to the many health benefits of legumes, The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) declared 2016 to be “The International Year of Legumes.”
An Added Tip: Germinate legumes after soaking them. Germination multiplies the amount of vitamins by the hundreds and improves digestion of legumes while preventing gas.
- Load Up on Fiber: Whole grains are an excellent source of dietary fiber which is beneficial for both satiety and digestion. Try to replace half of your white flour with whole grain flour, and incorporate whole grain foods into your meal: rice, couscous, pasta, and other carbohydrates that you eat.
- Leave on the Peel: Most nutritional value in fruits and vegetables are found in their peel. When using produce in your holiday dishes, leave on the peel to maximize the health benefits.
- Reduce Fat: Fats are found in all of the foods that we eat during the holiday — whether animal products (meat, fish and dairy products) or plants (various oils, avocado, and tahina). Be sure to choose lean cuts of meat, cook skinless chicken, and limit the amount of oil that you use for sauces and dressings.
- Drink Lots of Water: Add extra refreshing mint, lemon slices, orange slices, cut-up grapes or anything you like to a pitcher of ice cold water. Water is always preferred over sweetened beverages due to the extra calories in sweetened drinks.
- Eat Slowly: Take advantage of your holiday meal to engage in conversation with family and friends who you have not seen in a while. The time that you spend eating has a greater influence on fullness than the quantity of what you eat.
- Eat Unique: Try not to waste room in your stomach on foods that you eat routinely. Eat special holiday dishes that you do not get to eat every day.
- Plan Ahead: Make an organized list of the food that you plan to serve and eat over the holidays. Make sure you plan to portion control ahead of time! This will prevent waste (cough, Leket Israel).
These tips are selected from a range of recommendations discussed at Leket Israel’s “Nutrition for Life” workshops that take place throughout the country all year round, with specific emphasis before the holiday season. The workshops aim to impart knowledge about nutrition and long-term healthy living, while addressing eating habits that result from a limited budget.
The Nutrition and Food Safety Department of Leket Israel works throughout the year to ensure that the food we rescue is healthy, high quality varied and filled with nutritional value.