Let’s discuss how to succeed at a Shabbos (or Yom Tov) meal for those of us who have limited self-control. (For those of you who have no problem controlling portion sizes, skip this one). Unfortunately, If one were to count up the calories of the foods that are prepared at an average Shabbos meal, and divide it by the amount of people present, it would add up to more than 6,000 calories per person per meal. Our objective is that to the extent possible, create an environment that will minimize the amount of temptation during meals.Here is a list of things to do to set up a meal properly. As you go down the list, you will undoubtedly see that you don’t have control over many of the suggestions. Do the best you can by implementing those suggestions that you do have control over.1- Ideally enough food should be made for the people present, and not extra. If that is not in your control, read on.2- Ideally only dietetic food should be served. If that is not in your control, see if you can at least arrange that there are attractive, dietetic options available during each course. There is a huge difference between overeating on dietetic foods than overeating on non-dietetic foods. 3- Ideally food should be served on individual plates, and not serving bowls. If that’s not in your control, see if at least your food can be served on an individual plate. 4- Ideally have the meal move quickly.The way we eat on Shabbos is an entirely new phenomenon. (As is the obesity epidemic). This is a result of the recent availability and abundance of food and specifically non dietetic foods. Up until a few decades ago, people would follow these guidelines without being told. Now that it’s not the norm, we need to do our best to change it or at least work around it. What do you do if you have no control over any of the above suggestions?Here are some additional suggestions. Hopefully one of them will work for you. 1. Drink a lot of water at the beginning of the meal. 2. Take a short break by leaving the table so that your willpower will have a chance to reset. 3. Fill up on seltzer throughout the meal. 4. Help out with the serving and cleaning up in middle of the meal. 5. Have a food that contains a pit in it, such as an olive, a date, or a prune, and keep the pit in your mouth for several minutes. 6. Rinse out your mouth with mouthwash towards the end of the meal.Human beings have a tendency to greatly overrate their ability to have self-control. It is always preferable to avoid putting oneself in a tempting situation than to try to resist temptation. Even if you will pass the test, the best thing you can do for your success on a diet is to minimize the amount of deprivation and tests involved.

 

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