Dina Savitz

Healthy Eating & Mindfulness Guide to Surviving Pesach (Passover) 2020

This year, more than ever, it’s important to eat well and stay healthy over the 8 days of Pesach. For the last 5 years, I’ve posted a guide to healthy eating to give you some ideas of what you can make to eat so that you’re not just relying on matza, potato and eggs to get you through. 

In my last blog post (if you missed it, you can click here to catch up), I outlined ways that you can strengthen your immune system including daily exercise, consuming a healthy diet, ensuring you are getting good quality sleep, minimizing your stress levels and taking some immune boosting herbs and supplements. 

Over the 8 days of Pesach, these 5 things are SUPER important for both your physical and mental health. I can’t emphasise this enough.

Pesach this year is going to be very different to usual – most likely, you will be cancelling your grand seder plans and staying in your own home, due to lockdown rules in place. Synagogues are closed and everyone is being highly encouraged to stay home as much as possible.

I encourage you to take the time this year to really focus on your own and your family’s health and well-being, and my hope with this post is that you will find something that resonates with you that you can try out to make this time a little easier, and keep you strong & healthy. 

In last year’s healthy guide to Pesach, which you can click here to read again, I gave some ideas of different foods that you can eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Last week I popped by Naked Foods in Double Bay and did a big shop of all of their KLP products – they’re offering orders by phone, home delivery for orders over $75, and have a great range of products available, including slivered and flaked almonds (great for baking and adding to salads), desiccated and shredded coconut (great for making bliss balls), all types of quinoa, bi-carb for baking, cacao, dried peaches, bananas and pineapple, coconut oil and various nuts. These are all great for preparing snacks – of which you’ll need a lot of, especially for the first 3 days (and even more so if you’ve got kids at home to feed!)

During seder, after your matza and 4 glasses of wine, you might feel a little “off”. For gut health, I was so excited to pick up some slippery elm powder at Naked Foods. Slippery elm (also known as Ulmus rubra) is a herbal medicine that’s been long used for the treatment of IBS, as it demonstrates a soothing effect on the gastrointestinal tract, good for both constipation or diarrhoea or anything in between. You can take 1 scoop at night before going to sleep to help your GIT and liver do their jobs more effectively. If you’re on any medication, please seek advice from a health practitioner before taking slippery elm. 

Eating lots of vegetables and fruit and trying to add herbs into your cooking such as rosemary, thyme, basil, parsley, coriander and garlic will all help to boost your immune system and keep your body functioning at its best. Stay tuned for an online seminar coming your way in a few weeks in which I’ll be talking about specific foods that help boost your immune system. 

As well as eating well, I think it’s important to share some ways you can maintain your sanity, especially during Pesach this year when there is a 3 day chag:

  1. Breathe – being “stuck” at home can make even the most relaxed person feel a little bit stressed and a great way to relieve stress is to do some deep breathing – trying to expand your lower abdomen as you breath in to help your lungs expand and your body get the full benefits of the oxygen you’re breathing in. Also, focusing on lengthening your exhale can help activate your parasympathetic nervous system, helping your body to relax and feel less stressed. I encourage you to do this as much as you can, whenever you start to feel slightly on edge.   
  2. Invest in lots of books, board games and other activities that will keep you (and your kids) occupied…especially when there are no screens to “escape” to. Personally, I enjoy this aspect of Shabbat and Chag the most – because I find screens both addictive and draining on my energy…and you all know how much I love boosting (not draining) people’s energy levels. 
  3. Focus on the positive, rather than the negative – I know this is often easier said than done…but when you focus on negative words, bad news and sad things going on around you, it has a massive impact on your mood. I challenge you to replace as many negative words with positive ones as you can – we are all in this together and I believe that thinking positive can help you feel more positive. For example, replacing “I’m in isolation” with “I’m retreating for health” – how much better does the latter sound when you say it out loud? (And they really do mean the same thing!)
  4. Try to get out in nature as much as you can (of course, abiding by the restrictions your government has set for you as every city is different) as being amongst trees, looking at greenery, getting sunshine and moving your body are all known to be helpful in keeping you healthy – both physically and mentally.  
  5. Focus on getting good quality sleep, when you can. Smaller seders will most likely mean shorter seders, which also means earlier nights. A good night’s sleep is important to help your body perform all the important functions that it can’t do during the day as it’s too busy with other things…and of course sleep helps to keep your immune system strong and healthy. 

While I still have SO much more to say….I’m going to end this post here as I’d love for you to be able to read it before Pesach starts! Like I’ve done in previous years, I’ll post extra food ideas over on instagram, so make sure you’re following me and if you have any questions, please feel free to message me there. 

Stay healthy,

Dina x

Dina Savitz helps people discover how a regular exercise regime, small improvements in diet and individualised natural medicine can help improve their energy levels and overall health. As a naturopath and personal trainer with over 12 years experience, Dina works with clients both online and in person.