Make Shabbos and Holidays enjoyable for everyone!
Eating on Shabbos/Holidays come upon us once a week and almost every two months. It should be an integral part of family celebrations and a happy time for families to gather together. However, very often when there are dietary restrictions; eating suddenly becomes quite an issue. Sitting around and having an enjoyable time with family, is very often associated with food. There is also the very strong concept of Oneg Shabbos (joys of Sabbath), which is also associated with food. In Zemiros (Sabbath Songs), we sing: "Bassar, Vedagim, Vechol Matamim (meat and fish and all kinds of special treats)."
Being prepared, educated, a hefty dose of mind-set and a bit of self-control is what we need to enjoy these special times. We do not want to dread eating on Shabbos and Holidays.
We have condensed some of the typical foods eaten on Shabbos/Holidays, with their carb content, to help one avoid getting in to trouble. “Occasion eating e.g. Sabbath, holidays, weddings etc are atypical and can play havoc with blood sugars if we are not prepared. For those with diabetes that check their blood sugars before and after meals, but are restricted from testing on the Sabbath and Holidays, due to Halachic findings (Torah law), (see more about this in our Rosh Hashanah magazine), we suggest having a typical festive meal with all the trimmings during the week. One can then, realistically weigh, measure and record everything that is eaten and does not have to rely on memory. Test before and after this meal in order to understand the actual results. Since it is not a particularly light meal, test 1, 3 and even 5 hours after this meal. It may be a very good way of pin-pointing whether or not there is some Gastroperiesis (stomach slow down) around. (More on this subject coming soon in our medical section BE’H). Since we usually partake of a variety of different foods during “occasional eating, it is important to determine how these foods effect us based on glycemic index and glycemic load.
By the way doing this at a time when there are no guests around is probably a good idea for everyone not only for those that by Jewish law are restricted from testing.
JUST A FEW EXAMPLES:
Hold on to your hats you may be in for quite a surprise:
v Grape Juice: 1 cup = 27- 33 gr. of carbs 
v Dry wine: 1 cup = approximately 4 gr. of carbs (both can be mixed with water, check with a Rav and see our Pesach magazinefor more)
v Challah: 1 oz. = 15 gr. of carbs. This is not a particularly large portion; the average slice of Challah is equal to 3-4 slices of bread.
v Matzah: 1 Board = approximately 24 gr. of carbs. Whole wheat has 4gr. of dietary fiber = 18 gr
Try using only half of a board. Many people do better with Matzah, since it is always the same measurement and lower on the glycemic index than Challah. If you are determined to stick with Challah, you can lower the GI by reducing the sugar and adding Whole Wheat flour. Challah is hard to resist once you get started. Having pre-measured 1oz. rolls ready, will help you stick to your regimen totals.
v Gefilte Fish: Jarred or from a roll, 1 slice = 6-7 gr. of carbs
There is no reason to add any fillers or sugar (only a small amount of sugar substitute is needed) if made at home. It would then count only as a lean protein and not count as carbs.
v Chicken Soup: Used to be just that CHICKEN SOUP—made primarily from chicken, meat and bones and had basically no carbs at all. If made with a lot of high carb vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, sweet potato, etc1 Cup will end up having as many carbs as a slice of bread and most people have 2 cups. You are just drinking the carbs instead of eating them. It is best to use the green family vegetables such as celery, leeks, peppers, zucchini, etc. and lots of chicken.
v Noodles: 1/2 cup has 15 gr. of carb. If you cannot do without, use a scant tablespoon or two and you will find that it is more than enough.
v Mini Mandels (croutons): These vary greatly by manufacturer and type of croutons, but one of the very popular fried croutons come in at a whopping 61 gr. of carbs for approximately 3-3.5 tablespoons, and 26 gr. of fat of which 10.9 is saturated fats. There are other lower carb/lower fat versions. One needs to just get used to reading and comparing food labels. (See more about this in our nutrition section).
v Knaidlach (Matzah Balls): The standard store bought come in at a whopping 10 gr. of carbs (varies by size).
v Farfel (egg barely): 100 gr. cooked (approximately 1/2 cup) = 30 gr. of carbs. This is considered quite a staple in many families and many people find it hard to give up. Try cutting down the portion size and perhaps you will do better with quinoa funny pictures which although has the same amount of carbs is quite low on the glycemic index and packed with protein.
v Cholent (Sabbath stew) The original way made with regular beans, meat and potatoes 1 cup = approximately 37gr. of carbs, and very high in fat (If it is made with only barley, white potato, and turkey neck bones, you can seriously cut down the fat, carbs and the glycemic index. For those that are not carb restricted feel free to partake of this wonderful dish but do keep the barley, which is now being heralded as extremely heart healthy.
v Potato Kugel (casserole): 1 slice weighing 100 gr. (approximately 3.5 oz.) (Carb factor of .15 = 15 gr. of carbs.
v Noodle (Luckshin) Kugel (casserole): 5 oz = approximately 20 gr. of carbs. (Sweetened Yerushalmi is much higher)
v Compote Dessert varies: 1/2 cup sweetened = approximately 20-25 gr. of carbs.
1/2 cup unsweetened = 12- 15 gr. of carbs
Or try some diet jello or pudding with a dollop of pareve (non-dairy) or regular unsweetened (flavor it in various ways on your own) whip cream, or any of our delicious desserts and snacks.
These are just some of the foods and if you add them up you will be quite surprised. With our plentiful resources and a good imagination, there are many substitutes. One of the main factors influencing good control is portion size. So keep an open mind and eye on things.
We would love to get some input from all of you and have you share your ideas!
Being happy doesn’t mean everything’s perfect; It just means that you’ve decided to look beyond life’s imperfections!
Makes Shabbos and Holidays enjoyable for everyone!
Since it is carbs that mostly influence blood sugars, much of this article will seem to be focusing on the carb values of these foods. We have made a note of those foods that have the fat content reduced as well.
Copyright Jewish Diabetes Association. Last updated June 2017©