Hanukkah favorites like potato latkes and jelly donuts—or all fried foods, for that matter—can surely send your diet spiraling in the wrong direction. No surprise there. But eating less fried food is just one of the following eight heart-healthy tips for Hanukkah (one for each night of the holiday) from Dr. Irit Chermesh, deputy director of the gastroenterology department at Rambam Health Care Campus in the Israeli city of Haifa.
1. Eat less fried food: If you find yourself with a hankering that must be addressed, fry using healthier oil, such as canola. Be sure not to use the same oil twice because it gets oxygenated. But the best option is to try to find alternative ways to make the food, like baking.
2. Substitute with healthier ingredients: Use healthy ingredients like whole-wheat flour, homemade jam made with real fruit rather than store bought with preservatives. Substitute carbohydrates with vegetables such as squash and zucchini latkes.
3. Eat healthy first: Eat fresh fruit and vegetables before diving into those latkes so that you fill up on the more nutritious food.
4. Be Active: Be sure to be physically active. Thirty-six minutes of cardio exercise a day goes a very long way.
5. Enjoy! Socialize: Go to those Hanukkah parties and partake in the festivity this season. Studies strongly indicate that spending time with family and friends is proven to reduce your stress and keep you at your happiest.
6. Note your daily caloric intake: This is the season where people pack on the pounds—it’s a fact! So be sure to consider the calories from your sufganiyot (jelly donuts traditionally eaten during the holiday) and latkes when counting your calories for the day.
7. Downsize your sugar intake: Lower the amount of simple sugar you consume each day over the week of Hanukkah. Because Hanukkah is such a sugar-filled holiday, using just two-thirds of the amount of sugar you usually would goes a long way.
8. Don’t forget to drink water: The best thing to drink at all your Hanukkah parties is water— this week is filled with extra calories and sugar so keep your drinking as healthy as possible.