Rosh Hashanah Eating Tips From An Israeli Diabetes Expert

For those with diabetes, Rosh Hashana presents a dilemma as patients try to balance between keeping holiday traditions and maintaining a steady blood sugar level.

While unlimited cakes may be off the table, there are some tactics which diabetics and the health-conscious can use to enjoy the holiday without derailing their health plans. Adina Bachar, a registered dietitian and diabetes specialist with Clalit, Israel’s leading health care network, has eight practical, easy tips to help keep your blood sugar in check without feeling like you’re missing out.

  • Visualization: “Before you even go to the meal, think about how you will feel when you wake up the next day with a good sugar level,” Bachar advises. “Literally tell yourself out loud how successful you’re going to be. The challenge here is mental – if you’re repeating to yourself how hard this all is, how deprived you are, then you’ll find it much harder to resist temptation. Once you succeed in the first meal, though, you’ll see that it’s doable and all of the meals afterwards will be that much easier.”
  • Plan ahead: Eat a small meal in the afternoon, so you don’t show up hungry in the evening. Bachar suggests a salad with a hardboiled egg and tehina as dressing, eaten in a relaxed environment.
  • Eat smart: Most people already know what they should and shouldn’t eat – vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats are good, sweetened and processed products are to be avoided. Fruits should be consumed in moderation, and keep in mind that if you want to consume that sugar at the holiday meal, you should cut back elsewhere in the day. Begin the meal with a glass of water and at least half a plate of vegetables before moving on to more calorically dense foods, such as meat and carbohydrates.
  • Separate carbohydrates: If the table offers rice, peas, corn, and bread, choose only one and then skip desserts – including fruit! As a compromise, the meal could contain only half a serving of carbs and then allow half a dessert later.
  • Avoid mystery ingredients: If a food is complex and contains many ingredients, as in a quiche or soup, and you didn’t prepare it yourself, you can’t be sure whether there’s a hidden load of sugar or if it was prepared with a canned soup stock. Skip it.
  • Leave the leftovers: Avoid the impulse to help a child finish their plate. Try not to take home leftovers either – and if you must, keep them in the freezer instead of the fridge.
  • Evaluate: Once the meal is done, take a minute to assess which strategies worked for you and plan how to approach the next meal.
  • Enjoy: “If the diabetic takes solid steps to eat as healthily on Rosh Hashana as they would on any other day of the year, the holiday can actually be a boon for health,” Bachar says. “Working less and spending time with family and friends is good for the soul, and stress reduction is associated with better management of diabetes. So, with good planning and follow-through, Rosh Hashana can really be something great for diabetics’ health.”

Bachar’s work is supported by the Israel Healthcare Foundation, a U.S.-based non‐profit organization dedicated to supporting the health needs of Israelis and the 14 hospitals and 1,400 clinics that represent Clalit, Israel’s largest network of medical institutions. IHF has helped raise close to $25 million for various infrastructure and capital projects at Soroka in recent years.

This year, the Clalit network will care for more than 4.4 million people, see over 100 million patient visits, and perform more than 120,000 surgeries. For more information about the organization, please visit

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