Have Your Kugel and Eat It Too (In Moderation)

As a young woman, I preferred to think of myself as voluptuous. Full figured. Or on the rare (desperate) occasion, big boned. My parents liked to say that there was more of me to love. As nice as all of that sounds let’s just get down to it. I was always, shall we say…overweight.
Well, not anymore.
Growing up, the Jewish holidays became partially defined by their counterpart cuisine. On Hanukkah it was latkes, gelt (chocolate coins) and sufganiot (fried, jelly donuts). Pesach touted a variety of macaroons, those jelly orange slices and my Aunt Charlotte’s famous chocolate cake. Rosh Hashanah always came with honey cake, apples and challah dipped in honey, and all things sweet and sticky.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been surrounded by some of my favorite Jewish foods. And with those foods came the loving family members and friends who wanted to make sure I had my share. Kugel, rugalach, challah, bagels, lox and shmear. It was all there. And G-d forbid it should go to waste. Well it did. My waist.
When I graduated from college and married my husband I was at my heaviest. When we got the wedding pictures back I was simultaneously excited and mortified. That was not how I had wanted to look on my wedding day. Enough was enough.
And so began my journey. I wanted to lose 75 pounds and renew my wedding vows.
I thought I’d never again be able to eat the Jewish foods I love without the guilt that accompanied them.  Then I found Weight Watchers which allows you to eat the foods you love but in moderation. Now that’s a word not often heard around the Shabbos table. Check out these Weight Watcher approved recipes for Jewish classics like potato pancakes, matzo ball soup, cranberry nut rugalach, and brisket.
I truly believe that putting food into perspective can help enrich your Jewish experience. For me, the holidays are now more fulfilling than ever before. I used to be consumed by the fear of the foods that awaited me. Now, I’m more focused on the family and meaning that accompany the holidays instead.
How do you handle the temptations around holiday celebrations and simchas? Any suggestions to stay on track? Any health-conscious Jewish recipes you’d like to share?
A year later, I’m 55 pounds down and still eating the Jewish foods I love. Only 20 pounds to go and a lifetime of health and happiness ahead. Amen.
(Images: Joe Biewala, Mykl Roventine, grongar)