Chanukah is here! However, the festive excitement in the air may be mixed with worry and nerves for the dieters among us—or even those of us just watching our waistlines. With all the deep-fried donuts, oily latkes, Chanukah chocolate coins, and various other mouthwatering desserts and dishes awaiting us at our Chanukah parties (likely to be loaded with heavy cream, margarine, and everything else we’ve been so carefully avoiding), how on earth will we survive the temptation?
Have no fear—with the following useful and practical tips, you can allow yourself to enjoy the delicious delights of Chanukah without gaining those dreaded pounds:
1. Moderation is the key. Don’t go to any party with that strict, forbidding voice in your head: “Don’t even dream of taking a single bite of latkes/donuts/cookies/cake/ice cream or pasta!!” You know this is not realistic, and the moment you cheat and convince yourself ‘the piece is so tiny, definitely not counted,’ the game’s over—and you’ve lost your self-control. Instead, go with the attitude that you’ll allow yourself ONE small portion of TWO desserts of your choice, but that’s all.
2. Plan ahead. Choose wisely what you eat the day of your party and save those extra, discretionary calories for the treats you’ll be rewarded with later on. Eat small, frequent meals consisting of fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy, lean meats and proteins, and whole grain carbohydrates.
3. Don’t come hungry. All those diet-busters we mentioned will be much more likely to whet your appetite if your stomach is grumbling when you walk through the door. Plan ahead, and have a small healthy snack some time before the party (i.e. a small fruit, string cheese, granola bar, yogurt, or crackers with peanut butter or cottage cheese). Also, drink a glass or two of water.
4. Listen to your body. When you start feeling full, take a break from the food, even if you still haven’t managed to sample every dish on the table. You can always pack up some of the many bound-to-be leftover offerings and enjoy a ready-made lunch or dinner the next day.
5. Pair up. Find yourself a “Party Buddy” to whom you’ll recount all that you ate at the party, and she’ll do the same for you. When you know you’re being held accountable for what you eat—and that you’ll need to share with her every last item you touched—you’ll definitely be more conscious about your food choices, and are likely to eat much less.
6. Exercise! Make sure you get a full 30-60 minutes of physical activity every day of Chanukah to make up for the extra calories coming in from those extra treats.
7. And…Loosen up. Enjoy yourself—it’s Chanukah! Even if these 8 days are a bit tough on your diet, don’t despair or let it take away from your joy of Chanukah. Don’t restrict yourself too much, as that often backfires, but do crack down right after Chanukah and get back on track with your healthful, balanced eating.