The most recent version of Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting sugar to 10% of daily calories.
The reason for this is that added sugar in a person’s diet is linked to deleterious health effects such as weight gain, inflammation, diabetes, liver disease and heart disease.
With this understanding, sugar is never recommended as a necessary part of a diet for its health benefits.
However, there are many determinants of health, and nutrition is just one of them.
For example, getting enough sleep, exercising, access to medical care, stress levels, hydration, and genes all will affect a person’s health regardless of what they are eating.
Emotional health and social support are important factors as well.
Therefore, though I obviously can’t recommend over indulging in lots and lots of sugar throughout the day, in the big picture, it may be important for a person to enjoy some sweets… and that is ok!
Specifically on Rosh Hashanah, a person may be out of routine and surrounded by honey and other delicacies high in sugar. In addition, there is a lot to be thinking about on Rosh Hashanah that does not include food and nutrition!
My advice would be to take a few minutes before Rosh Hashanah and think about what your biggest nutrition challenge will be.
Then, try to troubleshoot and address that challenge. As always, think small.
For example, choose to start the day strong with a healthy option for breakfast so that you are not super-hungry when cake is offered to you.
Or, choose to eat dessert at the day meals but not the night meals.
Another idea is to prepare cut up fruit or a portion-controlled snack for the afternoon in advance.
None of these ideas take too much prep, they are all limited in scope, and provide a concrete plan to a specific challenge.
Whichever treats you choose to eat over your Yom Tov, make sure to enjoy! Food, including not-healthy foods, are delicious, and meant to be eaten with a smile.
Consuming sugar is not recommended for all diets. Always follow the medical advice of your doctor.