Let's Eat

Healthy habits you can stick to in 2020

Shabbat can be a weekly pitfall if you are trying to put nutrition ahead of nosh.


As nutritionists and personal trainers, we see a lot of clients this time of year complaining that they’ve put on weight during the holidays. They want to lose the extra pounds and feel fit and healthy for the year ahead. Our first advice is to move more. Whether it’s a full workout, going for a run or just a good walk, everyone should be moving each day. It’s great for burning more calories, will make you feel more energetic and has an added bonus of benefiting mental health.

In addition, it’s important to eat well. Ensure you’re eating plenty of fruit, vegetables, legumes, wholegrains, lean proteins and healthy fats. Think 80/20 — 80% of the foods you eat should be natural and unprocessed with the remaining 20% to allow for some fun in life.

And finally, lift weights. Resistance training is very important for us all. As we get older our bones tend to get weaker (osteoporosis) and our muscles start to regress (sarcopenia), to avoid these age-related diseases affecting you, it’s a good idea to do weighted workouts which will keep your musculoskeletal system strong, your posture good and prevent age-related injuries. The added benefit of lifting weights is that you will really see a difference in your physique in a way that just performing cardio exercise does not do.

Being Jewish almost inevitably means that it can be difficult to eat well at the weekends. No surprise that most people are great with their food during the week but slip into the booby trap of Shabbat, with its double whammy of Friday night dinner and Shabbat lunch.

If that’s you, these tips can help:

  • Plan ahead — Calorie cycling means eating less sometimes to allow for more calorie heavy days. So if you know you’re going to have a large Friday night dinner, eat lighter during the days leading up to it. During the week, eat in moderation and try to avoid unhealthy or sugar-laden snacks.
  • Liquid tip — This is your secret weapon. Drink a large glass of water about 10 minutes before you eat to trick your stomach into feeling fuller than it really is.
  • Bread ahead — We all love a slice of challah, and we’re not telling you not to eat it, but try, if you can, to stick to just one (small) slice. Essentially, our celebratory bread is a piece of cake, so keep that in mind whilst reaching out for that second piece.
  • Go green (and orange and purple) — Put plenty of veggies on your menu. They taste delicious and the extra fibre, vitamins and minerals have many health benefits.
  • Create the plate — Choose the food that goes on your plate carefully. Pick a protein — the leanest (least fatty) on the table, and try to avoid heavily processed meats such as sausages, shop-bought cold cuts and ready-made meats. Good lean meats to go for are London broil; chicken or turkey and fill the rest of your plate with a rainbow of vegetables.
  • Salad days — Avoid heavily dressed salads, and salads with lots of dried fruits, nuts or seeds. An oily, sweet dressing can turn a healthy salad into dessert.
  • Pud it out of your mind — We don’t want to sound like party poopers, but dessert is going to be calorific. We would say that if you can have a taste without eating a whole plate then go for it! But if, like us, one bite leads to another until the whole plate is empty then best not to even have a sample piece. Go for some fresh fruit instead, and if you are hosting, offer guests plenty of fruit; fruit compote or a low sugar crumble.
  • Drink aware — It’s worth trying to cut down the amount of alcohol at your meals, but if you enjoy a small drink then go for a gin and low calorie tonic or a small glass of red wine.
  • Watch out for feeders — Many Jewish mothers (and some fathers) just have a need to feed people! Don’t be afraid to tell your host that you’re on a diet. It will help them understand why you are not eating all their food — and hopefully stop them feeling offended.
  • Keep on moving — Shabbat is an ideal time to get outside and generally move more. A nice long walk after lunch will help digest that meal.

Anna Schuchman (above left) and Charlotte Wikler (above right) are personal trainers, nutritionists and co-founders of ace Lifestyle, which offers personal training, exercise classes and nutritional advice. Follow them on Instagram or contact them via email:


Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive