Eating Right through Passover

Eating Right through Passover

When Passover rolls around, we all search through the house, furiously purging our homes of anything that is bread-related. Finally, when all the pasta and cereal are gone we suddenly feel ready to welcome our springtime holiday. The problem is that the leavened products are not the only “plague” with which we need to be concerned.  Holiday time means indulging time and just because we are not eating pasta or rice (depending on your traditional practice), does not mean that we are eating healthfully.  According to a study at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, “The high amounts of dietary sugar in the typical Western diet may increase the risk of breast cancer and metastasis in the lungs.”

So what does this mean for us as we guzzle down four cups of wine and top it off with our favorite chocolate chip macaroons or mandel bread?  It means that sugar is the other white culprit of our Passover experience, not just leavened white flour! Passover, laden with emotionally charged foods, exposes us to nutritional challenges waiting in the wings.  Some of our fondest memories are of those foods that elevate our risk.

Knowledge is power. Know what you are putting in your body by becoming an avid and educated label reader.  When you read a label keep in mind that four grams of sugar are equal to one teaspoon of sugar.  It does not matter if the sugar comes from sucrose, or honey, or agave.  They all have the same impact.

Remember that simplicity is key.  Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits that are not too high in sugar.  You can purchase matzoh that is made with whole grains, spelt, rye, and whole wheat.  When you are making your favorite holiday treats, cut the sugar in half. Nobody will know the difference.

Another way to make your exodus out of the land of sugar is to eat filling and body fueling foods.  Protein should take center stage at the meals. Fish, chicken, turkey and some meat keep us satisfied and aid in keeping our blood sugar levels from falling.  Good quality oils, such as olive oil, walnut oil and grape seed oil, all of which are available as kosher for Passover products, bump up the satiety factor of salads and cooked vegetables.

Certainly there are those very special treats that you must have.  If there is a special food that makes the holiday for you, then plan to have it.  Make sure that the treat is the best variation of that food.  Plan when you are going to have it.  Eat it sitting at a table, and slowly enjoy every morsel.

Let’s try to make this Passover one in which the quality of the food is incorporated into the standards of Kosher for Passover.

Barbara H Smith Ph.D. is a practicing Clinical Nutritionist for 30 years. In addition to her private practice she has lectured in the Tri State area on Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyle.  She has broadcast on the Stamford radio station on Nutrition.