How to Have a Healthy Purim – Advice from Beth Warren
By: Esther Pransky, Lubicom Marketing Staff
Somehow, those words don’t seem to go together.
Is it even possible to have a healthy Purim when we’re cast adrift into a sea of sugar?
We asked Beth Warren, MS, RDN, CDN, registered dietitian, author, and founder of Beth Warren Nutrition for her advice and insight. Beth runs a highly successful nutrition practice, featured in The New York Post, Glamour, Prevention, and more. She’s taught hundreds of clients how to live a healthy lifestyle.
Beth’s approach to Purim is rooted in her BWN principles, a nutrition-based framework for healthy living.
WHAT IS A HEALTHY PURIM?
First, let’s define what we mean by a “healthy Purim.”
Sure, you could spend your day behind a locked door eating only raw, organic veggies. But that’s not an emotionally, socially, or spiritually healthy day.
“A healthy Purim is all about balance,” says Beth. That includes every aspect of Purim, from halachic obligations to fun customs like dressing up, family and friend togetherness, and all types of food.
But how do we get to that elusive balance?
While Purim may be the most extreme, all holidays are challenging when it comes to healthy eating. Beth teaches that the key to enjoying holiday treats without guilt is mindful eating.
Mindful eating means being real and honest with yourself and your needs.
“We focus on indulging in a portion of an item that is worth it to YOU whatever that means. Savor it, enjoy it, and then move past it, feeling the remnants of a positive and uplifting feeling, not a negative one.”
Planning TO eat is much more effective than trying NOT to touch anything. Rather than depriving yourself, mindful eating creates a lifestyle behavior that can be sustained long term.
TOP TIPS FOR A HEALTHY PURIM
With those principles in mind, we can understand Beth’s tips for Purim:
1. Don’t skip meals and snacks- You might be tempted to “save calories” for your meals or the mishloach manot. Don’t! That automatically sets you up to fail. Establish a strong foundation based on whole, real foods to make sure you’re adequately full. Then you’ll know that your indulgence is coming from a place of true mindfulness and positivity, versus an impulse decision.
2. Before Purim, think about which mindful indulgence does it for you- Is it chocolate covered pretzels? Fresh baked goods? Those incredible truffles your neighbor sends every year? Wait for it to come, pass on the ones that don’t fulfill that need, and then take the time out to sit and savor it with intention and positivity. Eat strategically and make mindful choices.
3. Hydrate- Keep drinking fluids throughout the day. You’ll feel fuller and be less tempted. Your brain will be in tip-top shape for making mindful choices.
4. Be active- Try walking to deliver mishloach manot or get in a workout! Not only is it helpful for the body, but it will keep your mind focused.
“Give yourself a chance - you may be surprised!” says Beth.
STAYING ON THE BANDWAGON
What if you slip up and succumb to temptation? Are you doomed to spend the rest of the day in a sugary, chocolatey haze?
Not according to Beth. Here’s what you do:
1. Take a deep breath.
2. Tell yourself that one bite, or whatever already happened, does not define you. It’s what you do afterward that matters.
3. Think: Which way do YOU want to go? You have the power to control that.
4. Always end a thought on the positive.
You can think your way out of a negative spiral before it gets out of control.
KIDS AND PURIM
Yes, the elephant in the room.
It’s one thing for you to practice mindful eating, but how can you keep the kids on track without turning the day into a battle?
Here’s the main idea:
Let your kids know in advance how your family will be handling the tidal wave of mishloach manot. Here’s Beth’s suggestion:
“We put each mishloach manot on this (predesignated) table. We do not open each one right away. At the end of the day, we’ll put all the candy in a pile, and each choose three of the ones we want to keep, which is then placed in our own bag, and put away in the kitchen. That bag will be yours. Nobody but you will eat from it. It is your responsibility to choose whether you’re going to eat it all at once or more spread out. It’s your decision.”
One of her clients came up with a different idea. Their child exchanged her Purim candy for quarters. Then they went to the dollar store and picked a prize. The child was happier (and healthier) than she would have been with all the candy.
Whichever way you do it, you want to teach the kids life skills of responsibility and self-control, without being overly restrictive.
And you’re (we hope!) modeling those same skills for them, too.
Let’s say you did it. You practiced self-control and mindful eating. You indulged in a few carefully selected treats and enjoyed every moment. You and your kids end the day happy.
And then you look at your kitchen counters. . .your dining room table. . .the kids’ bedrooms?!?!?!?
The junk food is EVERYWHERE! It’s way too much to avoid.
“Donate it! Get it out! Give it to the day worker!” Beth exclaims. “Don’t set yourself up for failure.”
As mentioned earlier, let your kids choose some goodies to make their own boxes. Maybe freeze a few items for Shabbat treats if it won’t tempt you. Then give the rest away.
The bottom line?
“Never say never. Be realistic. Be real. Be you,” sums up Beth. “The rest will fall into a much more controlled place if you’re honest with yourself. Accept those parts and give them the support they need- even if that means chocolate!”
A healthy Purim that includes chocolate? I’m in!
To schedule a nutrition appointment with Beth in the Brooklyn(Flatbush and Williamsburg), NYC, NJ locations or virtually, or book an appearance, email [email protected] or call 347-292-1725. Most insurances accepted. You can also follow her Instagram for healthy eating motivation and recipes @beth_warren. Beth’s book Secrets of a Kosher Girl (Post Hill 2018), is available on Amazon.