There are so many challenges to our diets when we’re enjoying those long summer Shabbos days.
Want to learn how to meet the challenges of Friday night? See the first installment of this article.
Kiddush At Shul
Kiddushim after Shul on Shabbos morning have evolved over the years. What used to be a l’chaim with a little mezonos, now can be as plentiful as a full three or four course Shabbos meal. Some view having a kiddush at shul as an opportunity to be involved in the social fabric of the community. The truth is that a kiddush originated to ensure that we are not fasting too long on a Shabbos morning.
While these are important aspects to appreciate, we also need to look at the impact this may have on our health. Many kiddushim that I have personally attended contain purely cake/crackers for mezonos, chips, cholent and kugel. While these foods allow the congregants to have kiddush properly with a mezonos and something hot to eat, we should keep in mind that these are not the healthiest options. Usually, these foods serve as a precursor to our own full Shabbos meals. Using the Kiddush as an opportunity for a little bit of satiation is understandable and even recommendable, if we can exert the level of moderation and portion control that is beneficial to ourselves.
My own shul never offered healthy options, such as fruit or vegetables, at a kiddush. When I inquired as to the reason, I was told that it was an added cost to the shul’s budget. I decided to take the initiative of making a vegetable platter each week for my shul. In the past, I would stand around the kiddush with my protein-filled snacks, instead of partaking in the spread. I realized over time, though, that although my willpower could hold me back for a few minutes, I was presenting myself the challenge of relying purely on willpower and not taking steps to minimize the challenge.
As such, I took the initiative to buy platters and for a few dollars a week I can enable others in my community to make healthier choices as well. We cannot underestimate the power of building a healthy community around ourselves and sometimes it takes thinking outside the box to empower others to progress in their personal journeys
Tip 1: If there are no healthy options for kiddush, either stand away from the food or bring your own healthy, portion allocated food to enjoy at the same time.
Tip 2: If your shul doesn’t have a healthy option, brainstorm ways with your Shul Rav, President, board, or peers about how that can be accomplished. Sometimes replacing the soda by the kiddush with water can itself save enough money to allow a vegetable platter.
Tip 3: If you are like me and would eat the same amount of food at the Shabbos lunch meal even if you eat at the kiddush, consider making kiddush at home with your meal instead.
Another challenge we face on Shabbos is the Shabbos afternoon time slot. When it’s the winter season with Shabbos afternoon being shorter, we often don’t have a significant time between finishing our meals and mincha/shalosh seudos. By the time we wake up from our naps (for those whose kids let them sleep) we’re already getting ready for shul and don’t have a lot of time available.
On the other hand, when Shabbos is later and we have a good few hours in the afternoon, another challenge is presented. While sitting around with family and friends and schmoozing, we have the tendency to feel the urge to eat more because it’s part of the Shabbos afternoon fun. When we pull out the leftover cake from dessert, the black and white cookies or the rugelach from the local bakery, we can mindlessly pack away 1000 calories without even thinking about it. We try to put out fruit and vegetables as well, and really stick to healthy choices, but the habit of mindless eating may have long term effects on our approach to eating and health.
How can we avoid overeating on Shabbos afternoon?
There are definitely a few suggestions that I have researched and coached with. One is to avoid the situation. If we have specific areas of the house that we know are triggers for a struggle, then we should try to avoid them.
For example, one of my weak spots is sitting in the kitchen by the kitchenette. I know that if I read a book at that table on Shabbos afternoon right across the pantry, it makes it so much harder for me to resist. An alternative may be to sit on the couch where it’s more of a challenge to get up, making it easier to resist extra eating.
Additionally, we can be proactive about doing something else instead of eating. For example, if cleaning up the food from the meal is a trigger for us, we can speak to our
spouse/siblings/parents about re-delegating the responsibilities, perhaps helping more with other tasks such as sweeping, taking out the garbage etc., can have a positive impact.
Tip: An alternative activity we can do on Shabbos afternoon is to take a Shabbos walk around the block or around the neighborhood. If our kids want to go to a friend’s house for Shabbos afternoon for a playdate, we can volunteer to walk with them to not only get some fresh air and some movement, but it helps with minimizing the nisayon we have.
Tip 2: Having a hot/iced tea on Shabbos afternoon, a large glass of Crystal Light/Seltzer/Water to drink, or having a stash of sugar free ices, gum, and jello are good alternatives to choosing unhealthier options.
Shalosh seudos is a meal that varies greatly depending on the time of year. During the winter months, depending on how long your davening and meal takes, it may fall out an hour or two after you finished your Shabbos lunch. I have heard from many people in my shul growing up that eating shalosh seudos takes a lot of mesiras nefesh. I never felt that way as a child because I was always able to “make room” for more.
There are ways to navigate this in a healthy way as well. Halachically, one should speak to their Rav about washing for shalosh seudos. Instead of having an additional large spread, one method I have heard people do is to break their Shabbos lunch meals into two parts, they’ll wash, have hamotzi, and bentch, wait a half hour or take a short walk, and then “restart” their meal for the main. This works very well in the winter months when there’s a short time between our meals.
In the summer months, there may be a few hours stretch in between our Shabbos lunch and shalosh seudos. Eating a small healthy snack during the afternoon can help keep us satiated until the third meal and we won’t go into the meal starving. When we approach a meal hungry, we are more likely to make decisions we may regret later.
Tip 1: In the winter months, try to eat something small, like one roll or a few pieces of fruit for Shalosh Seudos so that way you don’t feel like you are eating unnecessarily, but not starving by the time havdala comes around.
Tip 2: In the summer months, try to have a protein-filled snack in the middle of the afternoon.This helps to keep us from getting too hungry later.