First day of Chanukah 

First day of thinking about no sugar.

My almond milk contains sugar.  So if I am not going to have sugar, that means no porridge and almond milk!

Also the orange squash that I live off. I had to Google what comminute was, but it seems to be a source of sugar. Not as bad as pure juice but still sugar. 

I think that if I am to do this, then I’ve got to be black and white about it. No grey areas. In a way, that is easier, because there is no wiggle room to stretch the boundaries of what is allowed or not. I’m not saying I’m definitely giving up sugar in all its forms, but I’m looking for where it is hiding. 

So for breakfast, I made my porridge with water and salt. The real Scottish way! The texture was a bit different, gluey almost, but I liked it and it was tasty and just as filling. Calorie wise, the almond milk is negligible, likewise the squash, but it will be interesting to see whether my moods are more even as a result.  However, today wasn’t perhaps the best test for that as I went to bed late reading a book (The Man in the High Castle – an interesting alternate universe were the Japanese and Germans won WW2), and then was woken up very early by H. 

The essence of Chanukah (or any festival it even other occasions) isn’t the food. 

Let me repeat that in case you missed it. 

The essence of Chanukah (or any festival it even other occasions) isn’t the food. 

As those who have a food problem know, holidays all come with their “traditional foods”, Chanukah has its doughnuts, latkes and chocolate money, for those celebrating Christmas there’s mince pies and pudding. When it’s a birthday, there is a cake. An so on and so forth.

But, the essence of these occasions is not the food. I will focus on Chanukah because this is what we are celebrating right now, but please go with me even if you aren’t because I think this is an important concept for us all to internalise whatever the celebration or occasion challenging us.

At the time of Chanukah, the Greeks, led by an evil King Antiochus forbade the Jews from keeping Torah and mitzvos. They desecrated the Holy Beis HaMikdosh, the Temple, in Jerusalem with idols and other despicable acts. A group of Jews who were known as the Maccabis fought the Greeks, a miracle occurred that they won the seemingly impossible war, the few scholars against the major superpower of the time. They reentered the Beis HaMikdosh to clean it up and rededicate it. 

In the Beis HaMikdosh there was a gold seven branched candelabra, the Menorah. This was to be lit daily by the Cohanim (Priests) using pure olive oil.  The Maccabi’s wanted to rekindle the Menorah but the Greeks had defiled all the olive oil by removing the seal from all the containers.  There was plenty of oil, but not the best kind. In such a situation, it would have been permissable to use this oil but the Maccabis wanted to perform the mitzvah in the most ideal way and continued searching for a jar with an unbroken seal. A miracle occurred and one jar was found. 

This jar would only be enough to burn for one day, and the process for producing more oil would take eight days. However the oil miraculously lasted the eight days necessary for getting a fresh supply of oil. 

This is why we celebrate Chanukah. We celebrate the miracle that we won the war so that we are able to live a life of Torah. We celebrate the unnecessary miracle of the oil, which can be understood as Hashem’s pat on the back, saying, “You went to such efforts for Me, to try even in the hardest time to keep My mitzvos as beautifully as possible. Since you made the effort, I will help you.”

This is the essence of Chanukah. We traditionally eat oily foods because of the miracle of the oil, but they are just a visual aid, a multisensory learning tool to drum home the messages of the holiday. 

This can be applied to any festival or occasion where food is there. The birthday cake is to celebrate the person still being alive another year. Whatever it is, a wedding, a religious occasion, a social get together. If we internally focus on the primary reason for the food, we can take that principle inside and not the unhealthy food, this will make a profound and long lasting effect. 

Food diary – 25/12/16

Breakfast – 35g porridge with water and salt, plain yogurt

Morning snack – mixed seeds (need to limit portion size more) and half an avocado

Lunch – chicken pie and carrots, orange

Afternoon – I did not have a doughnut 

Supper – Quiche filled with mushrooms, peppers, goats cheese and leeks – my mum makes the best Quiche 

An early night.