Nutritional Tips for Rosh Hashanah
Dafna Ziv Busani, a dietician in the Nutrition and Dietary Unit at Schneider Children’s, notes that there are a number of typical and symbolic foods eaten at Rosh Hashanah:
Honey – Honey is a natural sweetener and accredited with special curative powers. It should be noted from our standpoint that despite its natural origins and unique qualities, honey is no different than regular sugar, brown or white. It is therefore not recommended for diabetics any more than white sugar, and its use should not be exaggerated. Children under the age of one should not be given honey due to fear of poisoning that could lead to injury of the body systems (the toxin is in the bacterial spores sometimes found in honey). The immune system of children under a year is unable to cope with this poison which could affect the infant’s health due to exposure to the spores at such a young age.
Fish – Over and above being a quality protein, fish also contains Omega 3 fatty acid found in sole, salmon, mackerel and halibut. In recent years, pond-bred fish in Israel have also been enriched with Omega 3, making them healthier than produced Omega 3. Fish has many healthy properties whose importance is undeniable including reducing the risk of heart and vascular disease. At least two portions of baked or grilled fish should be eaten each week (one portion=150 grams). Fish have many additional nutritional benefits: they are rich in unsaturated fatty acids and low in saturated fatty acids and cholesterol, which is good for the heart and for improving memory and reduces the risk of cardiac events in healthy people, such as heart attacks or strokes.
Pomegranates – Pomegranates are one of the fruits containing large quantities of anti-oxidants which help to reduce the effects of oxidization caused by the body’s activities. Pomegranates are healthy, but like everything else, should be eaten in limited quantities due to the high level of sugar as with all fruit.
The Festive Meal – The meal on Rosh Hashanah is usually festive and richer that other meals. Two small meals and two snacks should be eaten during the day, one of which should be an hour before the festive meal, so that you are not hungry by the time dinner begins. Remember that a glass of wine has between 90-160 calories, and thus it is recommended to drink less wine and more water. It is better to share a slice of honey cake with someone else. During the meal itself, you can eat and enjoy the holiday fare but ensure that half the plate is filled with vegetables, a quarter filled with carbohydrates and the remainder with a protein such as fish or meat. If you are hosting the meal, try to prepare a variety of salads containing vegetables and cooked vegetables. The rule of thumb is to curb bingeing and “damage repair” diets after the holiday. This can be avoided by eating properly without giving up on the enjoyment of the holiday fare.