Rosh Hashanah is the celebration of the Jewish New Year--it is still a time for celebration and reflecting and planning for a positive year ahead. Part of these celebrations may include eating sweet foods, such as apples and honey, potato kugel and the traditional honey cake.

Similar to most holidays, indulgence in sweeter and more decadent foods can pose a challenge for people with diabetes. Erin Kelly MEd, BSN, RN, CDE, Adult Diabetes Educator at Joslin Diabetes Center, offers advice on how to partake in the Rosh Hashanah celebrations without jeopardizing your diabetes self-management.

“Like any holiday, moderation is key with diabetes,” says Kelly. “Choosing to indulge intelligently is an important part of all holiday celebrations. This often means having a smaller portion of items, balancing what carbs are consumed with more vegetables or proteins and checking your blood glucose levels more frequently.”

The holidays are a time for celebration, and Kelly says she encourages patients to enjoy the day and not spend the entire time focusing on their diabetes.

Since food is a focal point of Rosh Hashanah celebrations, Kelly offers general guidelines for calculating carbs:

  • Look up and count the carbs for all the items in the ingredient list
  • Total all the carbs in the recipe
  • Divide the total by the servings that the recipe feeds
  • This number is your estimated carb amount per serving

For a traditional potato kugel recipe as featured on The Nosher, Kelly estimates 393 g of carbs total for eight servings, then it’s 49 grams of carbs (393/8= 49g) per serving.

Another food commonly eaten during Rosh Hashanah is a honey cake as seen in the recipe found on My Jewish Learning. For this recipe, Kelly calculates 1205.7 g of carbs total (using plain not candied almonds) for 12 servings. At 12 servings, the honey cake is 100 grams of carbs (1205.7/12= 100.4g) per serving, making this recipe extremely high in carbs.

While it’s sometimes difficult to substitute healthier ingredients in some recipes, “generally speaking if you can find a substitute that works great – otherwise many people get the same enjoyment by having the real thing but having a smaller portion,” explains Kelly.

In general, holidays can be a challenging time to manage your diabetes and calories in take, but moderation is key.

“Keep moderation in mind and remember that it takes 20+ minutes for your brain to realize that you are satiated,” explains Kelly. “I tell my patients to eat until you feel satisfied but not full. Try not to go to a holiday food event hungry because you’ll tend to overeat.”

People with diabetes should not let their diabetes stop them from enjoying the holidays, and with moderation and a little preparation, people with diabetes can celebrate a sweet new year.

Shanah Tovah!

Although this content is reviewed by Joslin Diabetes Center healthcare professionals, it is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition.