May 18, 2024
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May 18, 2024
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Wishing You a Happy and Healthy Pesach!

I was 12 years old, and I just finished devouring my aunt’s famous roasted potatoes served every year at the Pesach Seder. I guzzled my last drops of Dr. Brown’s cherry soda and awaited our family’s traditional desserts like the jellies, chocolate covered marshmallows and rainbow cake. Food is family and tradition. Although I did not grow up observing all the Jewish traditions, I have always felt that part of my impetus to become more observant was rooted in the amazing Seders my family created filled with family, fun memories and delicious food.

Jews Food and Culture: Time for a Change

Food is so intertwined in our experiences as Jews—I’ll say it again, food is family and tradition! I’ll even let you in on a little secret … I actually love food and I even love dessert. However, with all that being said, I believe it’s time to create a healthier Jewish food culture, and Pesach is a very good place to start.

When it comes to healthy food, it should taste good. We can and should enjoy ourselves, but the food we eat shouldn’t be harmful to our precious bodies. It has always bothered me that a holiday entrenched with the message of redemption and freedom could make us feel tired, yucky and depleted from all that food.

But Pesach Is Only a Week!

I know what you might be thinking … Pesach is only a week and it’s enough work as it is … and now you want me to be health conscious, too? What is the difference if you eat some unhealthy oil along with tons of salt and sugar for a week? While the holiday only lasts a week, in reality we often begin sampling the Pesach food before the holiday even begins. Many continue eating the leftovers and Pesach products well beyond the last day of matzah. But even one week eating unhealthy Pesach products can have detrimental effects on your health. Let me explain how and what you can do to start making some simple health changes, but still enjoy the yummy traditional foods.

Fast Food and Pesach Products Have Much in Common

In the documentary “Supersize Me,” director Morgan Spurlock performs a social experiment to see what would happen if he only ate fast food for an entire month. In the process he gains 17 pounds after only two weeks, and 24.5 pounds after one month! His energy plummets and he experiences all sorts of unanticipated side effects as his health deteriorates. It takes Spurlock a shocking 14 months to get back to his baseline weight and lab tests. Sadly, he is told the experiment has caused irreversible heart damage.

Did you know that so many of the unhealthy ingredients in fast food are the exact same ingredients used in many Pesach products? While you may not be going to such an extreme as in Spurlock’s experiment, introducing excessive sugar, salt, trans fats, artificial colors, MSG and much more is never a good idea, even for only a week. So here are some simple changes you can make with the ingredients you buy this year.

Fats and Oil: Time for an Oil Change

Avoid Replace With
Trans fats

Hydrogenated oils

Partially hydrogenated oils

Cottonseed oil

Avocado oil

Butter, Coconut oil

Sustainably sourced palm shortening

Safflower oil high oleic

Grapeseed oil

Walnut Oil

For Sephardic Jews Only on Pesach:

Sunflower oil high oleic

Peanut oil, Sesame oil

Flaxseed oil

FOUND IN: Potato chips, snack products, margarine, mayonnaise, almond milk, baked goods.

Chemicals: Leave Them in the Lab

Aluminum additives, artificial colors,

artificial flavors, BHA & BHT, MSG, Olestra,   Potassium bromate, Propylene glycol, Propylparaben, Sodium nitrite, Nitrates, Theobromine

Please Note: This is not a complete list. Be an ingredient detective! If it sounds like it was made it a lab … it probably was.

FOUND IN: Snack foods, desserts, sauces, salad dressings, soup mixes or bouillons.

Salt: Save Some for the Karpas

 Avoid Replace WithAvoid Replace WithExcess salt DAILY RECOMMENDED AMOUNT:American Medical Association (AMA): < 2,300mg per day

FOUND IN: Deli, soup mixes, soup bouillons, snack products.

Sugar: How Sweet is Too Sweet?


Avoid Replace With
Excess sugar

White sugar

Brown sugar

Artificial sweeteners:

Sucralose (Splenda)

Saccharin, Aspartame

Women < 24 grams sugar/day

Men < 36 grams sugar/day

Honey, Maple Syrup

Coconut sugar, Date Sugar

Zero Calorie Sweetener:

Stevia (in moderation)

FOUND IN: Cookies, cakes, sauces, yogurt, candy, snack foods, salad dressings, prepared foods.

2022 Healthy Passover Guide

The above information comes from my 2022 Health Passover Guide. For the complete FREE guide, which includes more detailed health tips, recipes and tips from a stress management coach, as well as tips from a professional home organizer, use the following link

Wishing you much health and wellness this Pesach wherever you may be on your own health journey. Happy Passover Greetings! 

Jill Friedbauer has been working in the field of health and wellness for 20 years. She is a national board certified health and wellness coach, licensed physical therapist, author of the book “Heal Your Soul, Heal Your Gut” and has a podcast, “Heal Your Gut, Heal Your Soul,” on Spotify. Jill is available for one-on-one health coaching, family health coaching, group coaching and speaking engagements. Jill can be reached via email at: [email protected], or to book a consultation, visit her website at: .

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