By Izzy leizerowitz
Having produced a video prior to Pesach regarding how to survive the Seder and Yom Tov on Keto, I wanted to write a blog about how to get through Shabbat on Keto. As the Kosher Keto Coach, I am very aware that once a week Shabbat presents many food related challenges for all of us in general, and especially more so on Keto. I will discuss the issues from Friday through the end of Shabbat.
Disclaimer: I will be discussing issues relating to minimum volumes and quantities of food and liquids related to religious requirements. Always check with your Rabbi for guidance.
My assumption for this blog is that as a Shabbat observer, you are obligated to eat 3 festive meals which include Challah, and you are also obligated to making Kiddush Friday night and Saturday lunch.
The main elements related to being on a Keto food regimen and observing Shabbat fall into several categories.
Friday – Pre-Shabbat meal Planning
Shabbat – 3 Festive Meals
Making the Kiddush
Making Blessings over Challah
Social Pressures; Eating With “Friends”
Friday – Pre-Shabbat
The first challenge going into Shabbat is knowing that Shabbat dinner will be eaten in the evening after Sundown, which is not what we may do the other evenings of the week. Many of us do intermittent fasting and don’t even eat in the evenings. For others, the idea of consuming Challah and wine plus a full meal after 8pm. And then again twice the next day presents other challenges.
Many people including myself redo their meal strategy on Fridays from the rest of the week to account for the upcoming Friday night meal. I still have my breakfast on Fridays, but instead of having lunch (which is my last meal) finished no later than 1pm, I will skip lunch on Fridays and just go into the Shabbat meal. For me, total caloric intake per day, even on Keto, is an important part of my success, and I believe, should be yours.
Everyone Jew is different, but there is a consensus that observant Jews are required to eat 3 Festive meals on Shabbat which translate into meals that incorporate Challah at each meal, and Kiddush is said at the Friday night meal and the Saturday lunch.
How much Challah/bread is needed to wash and make a blessing? Any amount of Challah or bread you are about to eat requires a blessing of thanks to G-d.
How much Challah needs to be consumed to trigger after meal blessings?
Some follow a minimum of 54 grams, some follow a minimum of 28 grams. A small challah roll is about 28 grams by reference.
The scary thing is that many of us on Keto don’t consume 28 grams of carbs in a day, let alone in each of 3 meals over a 25 hour timeframe. If you take into consideration the volume of rest of the meal as well, you now see why we have a problem. What are your options?
You can just accept it and understand that once a week, as a Shabbat observer, you do what is required and adjust the rest of the meal as well as the rest of the week.
Consult your Rabbi and ask for a health or medical exemption depending on your specific background and issues.
Make up your own mind as to what you will do. We don’t make judgments here.
For people making Kiddush Friday night and/or Saturday lunch, the religious recommendation is to make it over wine or Grape Juice. Religious consumption requirements include drinking 3 oz or more when making the blessings. However, consider the following:
Grape Juice Simply put, it’s a no for using grape juice. It contains 24grams of carbs in a 3-4 oz cup.
Wine If you choose semi-dry or dry red wine, you will consume 3-4grams in a standard kiddush cup. That includes Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cabernet. Many non-sweet white wines are in a similar range of carbs.
Dilution of wine. If you want to go below 3 grams per cup, there are exemptions and sources that allow for ½ of the wine to be diluted with water and still be considered wine for the purposes of the blessings. As always, consult your Rabbi.
Irrespective of the Challah and wine issues, there are other Shabbat related meal considerations to note. Whether you will be hosting a meal or being hosted, there will be usually too much food served on the table. My recommendation is to stick to a pre-determined plan of attack regarding the upcoming meals. Something perhaps, like eating just the main dish and having just green salads. Keep in mind some vegetables have more carbs than others. Also, you will be presented with the following challenges:
Dips – Most dips are not Keto friendly. In fact, you must learn to read the ingredients as there are hidden sugars and way higher calories than you may have initially thought. Also learn to understand serving sizes.
Sauces and Salad Dressings – Many sauces contain sugar or sugar derivatives, are high in carbs per serving, and are misleading if they use the word “Lite”. If you can, ask your host how was the food prepared. Many cooks use hidden ingredients such as sugar or honey. Safe Keto friendly oils and condiments include, Olive Oil, Vinegar, Mustard and Mayonnaise.
Overeating – You can eat Keto friendly and still gain lots of weight just from eating too much at the table. Remember if you are trying to lose weight, eating more calories than you are expending, regardless of how Keto friendly those calories are, will sabotage your efforts. Stick to a plan you created before you sit down. Pace yourself over the 25 hours as you have Friday night Shabbat dinner, Shabbat Lunch (after a Kiddush in Shul) the next day, and then Seudat Shlishet, the third festive meal, eaten usually an hour(ish) before the end of Shabbat.
Meal Guests – Where you are hosting or being hosted, especially at the beginning, if you don’t know the crowd, don’t share that you are on Keto unless you have a very tough skin. Everyone will have an opinion about any diet, especially Keto. You will be accused by suddenly vocal dinner partners of harming your body, doing a fad diet, etc. My choice would be to just share that you are picky and prefer certain foods until you get to know people better. I have found to my pleasant surprise that more Keto friendly Shabbat observers are popping up every day.