Have Your Latke and Eat it too!

Waistlines beware: Chanukah is coming! Eating oily foods on Chanukah is something we like to take very seriously. As if that isn’t hard enough, there is an endless stream of Chanukah parties to attend. “His side”, “her side”, the work party, etc., each of which is chock-full of lots of unhealthy foods. The one who can fix that is… you! Here’s a plan to make it to the end without turning into a jelly doughnut yourself.

  1. As a hostess, aim to include wholesome, nourishing dishes, accompanied by healthy doses of vegetables. However, if you are a guest, you will likely be faced with the enormous challenge of many tempting foods staring at you. Avoid this scenario by offering to contribute something healthful and tasty to the menu. This way, you are assured of having a desirable food option made from healthy ingredients. Another idea would be to chat it up while standing near the drinks, holding a non-caloric beverage.  
  2. Much of what contributes to a meal’s nutritional score is its size. Paying close attention to the quantity of the food can go a long way towards curbing weight gain. Be mindful of amounts, and stop eating once you feel satiated. The general setup of the plate should include 50% fruits and vegetables, 25% protein, and 25% starch.
  3. Even your Chanukah “staples” can be drastically improved. First off, baking instead of frying foods will eliminate the extra fat. When frying is a necessity, skip the oil and coat the skillet with PAM® to control fat content. Alternatively, you can maintain the fried flavor while reducing fat content by using the airfryer – a relatively new invention which reduces fat content by 50%. Who says latkes must be made with potatoes? There are many healthier alternatives, including carrot or zucchini latkes. Not only does this lessen the carbohydrate content, it also is a convenient way to add more vegetables to your meal. No article about this holiday would be complete without mentioning the benefits of olive oil. Used in place of other fats, the monounsaturated fatty acid content of olive oil may aid in preventing heart disease and improving blood vessel function.
  4. Food is meant for us to enjoy, and it is okay to indulge once in awhile. Unless contraindicated due to specific health reasons, all foods are acceptable, as long as they are consumed in moderation. One doughnut won’t make your skirts tighter. When treating yourself, take small portions, walk away from the serving dish, and savor the food. At the same time, plan on cutting down on a regular indulgence.
  5. Putting the aforementioned tips into practice will cut down on many calories, but at the end of the day, extra calories are extra calories. Physical activity is an important method of combatting potential weight gain. So grab those sneakers and go for a brisk walk or run, do an exercise video with a friend, or attend an aerobics class at the gym. Nine 1- hour moderate-paced walks will burn 3500 extra calories, which is the equivalent of one pound.

This Chanukah need not be an inevitable week of weight gain. With preparation, self-control, and some key substitutions, a flavorful Chanukah fare can be enjoyed with family and friends. You can have your latke and eat it too!

Miriam Shonek is a registered dietitian nutritionist in the Five Towns area. Focused on providing personalized nutritional care, she assists clients in achieving weight loss goals, as well as creating diet plans for a variety of medical conditions. She can be reached via email at mshoneknutrition@gmail.com.

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