The cycle of fall holidays can feel relentless, both for the tired host and your stomach. After Rosh Hashanah comes Yom Kippur, when, although we fast, many people easily eat an entire day’s worth of calories at both the meal before Yom Kippur and at the break-fast. Many of us eat twice as many calories than if we’d skipped fasting in the first place.
Then, we arrive at Sukkot, a holiday with the option to eat four holiday meals the first and last two days. We think that tons of sweets and big meals will make us happy, but in the end they don’t…not in a physical or mental way. Nothing makes me happier than when holiday and Shabbat guests leave a meal at my house satiated, marveling that they feel full, but not physically disgusting or mentally guilty. (For more tips, see Sara Solomon’s article here.)
There is a way to entertain and eat at holidays that is celebratory and special, without feeling gluttonous. Usually, I advise trying not to host or go out for more than one meal per day. However, we go to yom tov (holiday) meals to socialize, not just to eat. If you want to enjoy the company of friends and family, at both lunch and dinner, here is a suggestion for how to do just that.
Enjoy long lunches and light dinners. For lunch, serve your guests plenty of food, but choose it wisely. Notice if all of your “salads” call for a cup of oil and a cup of sugar, and cut back accordingly. Instead of margarine and vegetable oil, use healthier fats like nuts, seeds, avocado and coconut oil. Check out JFE’s vegan Rosh Hashanah menu, which can be used any time.
Don’t feel pressured to serve a four-course dinner! If you eat a three-hour lunch as well as a three-hour dinner, imagine the heartburn you’ll feel when you lay down! Agree ahead of time with your family (and guests) that you will enjoy a simple meal of soup and salad and be done with it. Instead of serving fruit for dessert, enjoy a first course of half a grapefruit. Fruit digests quicker than everything else. If you eat it for dessert, it will digest behind heavier foods, causing gas, bloating and trouble sleeping. In addition, grapefruit contains health-promoting vitamins and minerals.
You don’t have to spend the time sitting at a table filled with food you aren’t even hungry for, but feel like you should eat. Nor do you have to spend time cooking that food! If you want to spend more time with your family, instead of loading up on heavy desserts, enjoy hot tea in the sukkah or warming up inside.