Shabbat has just ended. But, it’s coming again. In fact, it actually comes every week. Each day in tefillah we are reminded how much more time we have until Shabbat comes again. I for one appreciate the count down! In the span of a month between having Shabbat weekly, the occasional Chag, and the family Simcha - we often have a lot of occasions surrounding food. My question to you is: how do you interact with food at so many food focused events?
Here’s what I want to know - do you respond with:
A) Calories don’t count on Shabbat/Holidays
B) Hashem understands
C) I HAVE to make these things guests are coming
D) Of course I am going to continue my healthful and balanced approach to eating on Shabbat as well!
E) Prefer not to respond…
Even if you can’t choose just one answer from the list above, let’s assume that at some point all of us, created human, will fluctuate between the options and most likely lean more to some than others. This topic is something I have thought about for a while. There is no perfect answer to the question. But what I can tell you, is that using Shabbat as an excuse for unhealthy choices is certainly not what Hashem intended. And please make sure you understand what I am saying - Shabbat is a beautiful time to have special foods, mare varied meals, new recipes, and yes even dessert!
But to overeat to the point of over satiation and to do so because it is Shabbat is not the right and most honest reason for those actions. We all know feeling the need to make certain dishes or recipes when guests come and adorn our tables is a reality. But do guests come for the food? Do they really? It might seem radical, but I think when someone accepts an invitation to join you in your home for Shabbat they are coming for the experience. The chance to connect with their hosts, create a positive memory, and delight in the people’s presence surrounding them.
And beyond that, it is clear that HaShem sends bracha to all of our food when it is Shabbat…have you ever tasted cholent on a Sunday?? If you have you know what I might be getting at, if you haven't I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it! But the point it is, that the cholent doesn’t taste even nearly as good as it did on Shabbat! Clearly there must be some sort of hidden bracha in the food when it is Shabbat.
Here are some tips when faced with a Shabbat meal that can help to make healthful choices more second nature:
After you fill up your plate the first time - take a breather! Being mindful while eating can be extremely difficult when there is a lot going on around you. But giving your brain some wait time between helpings can help your hunger/fulness cues to kick in and give your brain the possibility to hear them!
Don’t eat with your eyes! I know it’s an old saying but it’s true! Once the food is out, survey your options. Think about how your body will feel after eating each item. Make sure you’ve hit all your food groups on your plate! (Keep in mind if the challah is REALLY GOOD you don’t need an additional starch/grain).
When menu planning consider if all the food you are making would normally appear in your home. Because if you wouldn’t normally allow it, then it will be an instant challenge to interact with the food in a mindful way. If you have that capability and self-control by all means! If you are able to make it and enjoy it as a regular part of your Shabbat seudah, then you have come to a balanced relationship with said food. But think realistically! (and it is much easier to do that now then on erev Shabbat!)
Use it as an opportunity to get creative - There are plenty of ways to make a Shabbat seudah special and still leave room for your healthful eating to take place! (try the new recipe you have been wanting to, make unique table settings, input exceptional food presentation, a novel zemer, original divrei torah are just a few examples).
With a week until Shabbat graces our presence again we have plenty of time to consider how to make our healthful Shabbat seudah choices second nature. I challenge all of us to do so and really honor not only Shabbat with a special seudah, but ourselves with being mindful in our Shabbat preparations and experiences.
Have a splendid week!