5 tips for a healthy, happy Purim

    Purim is here and with that usually comes a lot of nosh, candy, and generally unhealthy eating and habits. Consider these five tips to make this already happy holiday a whole lot happier — and healthier, too!

    Build a Nutritious Mishloach Manot

    Purim holiday greeting card with hamantaschen cookies and carnival mask over mint background

    I’m not telling you to send your friends green juice and kale (though if that’s your preference, please do so by all means!). However, instead of packing baskets full of chips, sweets and chocolates, channel your time toward packing your mishloach manot (Purim basket) with just two or three thoughtful (and delicious!) nutritious items. You will still be following Jewish law – which only requires mishloach manot to include two foods with two different blessings – and you’ll be adding some nutrition to your friends’ Purims. No one needs more candy on this day!

    Here are some ideas of what you can include in your mishloach manot:

    Make Healthier Hamantaschen

    Purim wouldn’t be complete without these delicious cookies. Here are some things that you can do to make your Hamantaschen healthier:

    Use preserves/jams with minimal added sugar.

    Many of the Hamantaschen fillings that we know and love contain added sugar. However, the truth is that many of these fillings are naturally sweet due to being fruit-based and don’t need any extra sweetness. Swap sugary preserves and jams for ones with minimal amounts of added sugar. This is a healthy change that won’t compromise the taste of your Hamantaschen.

    Fill your Hamantaschen with nut butter.

    If you want your Hamantaschen to satisfy your hunger, it’s a great idea to fill some of them with nut butter. Nut butters – such as peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter and hazelnut butter, just to name a few – provide protein and healthy fats, which will make your Hamantaschen more filling. You can sprinkle some cocoa powder on top of your nut-butter-filled Hamantaschen for a bit of chocolate flavor. Dark chocolate chips also taste delicious with nut butters.

    Use oil instead of margarine in your dough.

    Margarine contains saturated fat and (usually) trans fat. While consuming both of these fats in moderation is okay, it is advised to limit both of these, since too much of either fat can raise your “bad” cholesterol levels, leading to clogged arteries and/or cardiovascular issues, among other negative health effects. Oils, however, are largely comprised of unsaturated fats, which promote healthy cholesterol levels. If a recipe calls for melted margarine, oil is usually a great substitute.

    Don’t Skip Meals

    breakfast

    It’s possible that you’ll be tempted to skip breakfast – and/or potentially lunch – on Purim day. This decision may be fueled by the snacking you believe having packages of candy throughout your home will cause, or by knowing that you’ll be attending a food-filled seudah (a Purim feast-like meal) later.

    You may think that skipping meals will help you save calories; however, eating regularly throughout Purim day will help you feel more in control of the foods around you, giving you a better handle on your eating. Fueling yourself consistently will take the edge off of your hunger, making space for you to enjoy Purim’s unique foods in quantities that you’re comfortable with. It’s not fair to ask yourself to only eat one or two Hamantaschen if you’re depriving your body of the nutrition that it needs. Honor your hunger and health by eating in the pattern which you normally would – and make sure to include some sweets in there as well!

    Bring a Healthy Option to Your Seudah

    salad

    One great thing about hosting a Purim meal is that you can make sure the menu includes foods that you want to eat. But what if – as is commonly the case – you’re attending a seudah as a health-conscious guest?

    If you’re concerned that your seudah will lack healthy options, offer to bring a nutritious dish. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t eat the other foods at the seudah – all foods fit in a balanced diet! – but, by bringing a nutritious choice, you will know that your body will be receiving at least some of the nutrition that it needs to function optimally. Plus, your host will be delighted to have some cooking help!

    Check out this article for some healthy options that you can bring to your seudah.

    Make a Drinking Plan

    glasses cheers

    If alcohol is going to be part of your Purim festivities, it’s a good idea to make a drinking plan before heading out to your Purim party. Like all foods, alcohol definitely has its place in a balanced diet and can be fun to enjoy with friends. It can be easy to overdo it, however, so make sure to be careful.

    Many find it helpful to decide how many total drinks they want to have before heading out for the night. This number is different for everyone, so spend time thinking about what your unique limits are. Being drunk can lead to mindless snacking, so consider this when setting your limits.

    Also, don’t forget to fuel up with a balanced meal before drinking – and don’t skimp on the protein. This will help the alcohol’s effects take longer to hit your body, since the compound is absorbed slower when there’s food in your system. L’chaim!

    Wishing you a happy and healthy Purim!

    Dena Gershkovich
    Dena Gershkovich is a writer, recipe developer and future dietitian. She holds a BS in Dietetics and a BA in Journalism from the University of Maryland. Follow Dena on her blog (The Artsy Palate) and on Instagram (@theartsypalate) to see more of her work!