I've heard it said that Jewish history can be summed up sort of like this. Someone tries to destroy us, G-D saves us—Lets celebrate---and that, of course, translates in to the family gathering around and eating, eating and more eating.
By default, being born Jewish we are celebrating almost three months out of the year. We have Shabbat every week, an eating holiday every two months---when we are fasting we are making up for lost time before and after. Then of course, the happy times; weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, engagements and the sephardic community even has lavish spreads during mourning—it is done as a good deed (mitzvah) to allow for a blessing for the deceased---but what about the ones doing the eating---are we eating ourselves to a shorter life span G-D forbid-- by now I hope you get the picture.
Then along comes Passover (Pesach) and we are so sure that it will be impossible to get through the very popular matzo, potato and egg holiday---well surprise surprise—We were undaunted and decided to start looking for solutions and substitutions for traditional ingredients—living a Jewish lifestyle does not have to mean living unhealthy—in fact, quite the opposite—we have a Torah commandment to "take very good care of ourselves" (Deuteronomy 4:15). We do not live the life that was lived one hundred years ago so we cannot expect to get away with eating many of the foods that they ate—most of theirs got worked off throughout the day—we hardly move and our present day foods are terribly refined.
This year Passover begins on Monday night, March 29th.
As we always say "if you fail to prepare you are preparing to fail". Passover is not that nutritionally difficult—in fact there are those that would say that there are actually advantages—such as not having fresh bread around and many of the cakes that are sometimes so hard to resist. In fact we are beginning to learn and recommend to many people with insulin resistance or tendency to weight gain, to start using whole wheat matzo all year round instead of bread, since it is much lower on the glycemic index than bread. It is easier on the system- healthier- and most important portion controlled, with one board of matzo being equivalent to two slices of bread. Another advantage is the crunch---which we always crave and t des take longer to eat than two slices of fresh bread.
What do we do with all the eggs---start using only half the yolks—if you have a problem tossing out the yolks remember that we are not garbage pails and every yolk has 60 - 70 calories and it is all fat. What about the potatoes; mix them with cauliflower, zucchini etc. Pile up on a variety of salads and use your imagination when putting together desserts using different flavorings, and extracts and fresh fruit.
When dealing with the four cups of wine for the Seder, remember that dry wine has become recommended fare for most healthy people-grape juice is a very concentrated source of sugar so there are many that prefer using wine and watering it down. One should check with their Rabbi to found out what is preferable as far as mixing wine with water but most allow it. There are different ratios of wine to water allowed but some allow even 50/50 or 60/ 40 which leaves us with not that much total wine. The amount of matzo that we need to eat is quite high; however the rest of the meal can be balanced with delicious salads as opposed to additional carbs.
We need to take a second look at food and understand our goals. G-D has given us a world with an abundance of fresh produce. Never in history has the world known the kind of affluence that we have today. Yet there is also an abundance of stress, which is one of the strongest factors leading to many chronic conditions such as diabetes—so get out and walk, keep smiling, and make small changes one step at a time.
*one should not make any changes in their regimen without checking with their health care team