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This evening at sundown, Jewish celebrities like Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Shia LaBeouf, Daniel Radcliffe, Emmy Rossum and Jesse Eisenberg will gather for a festive Passover meal, or seder, with traditional foods like matzoh crackers, roast brisket and potato or apple puddings called kugels. For the eight days of celebration, observant Jews will not eat any foods made with bread products or grains  -paying tribute to the ancient Israelites’ hurried flight from Egypt, when they had no time to let their dough rise and were forced to bake it into crackers on their backs, under the desert sun. Though many Jews gripe about a week of food restrictions, the so-called Passover diet has a strong potential to help anyone lose weight, feel healthier and combat mindless eating. Here’s why:

No bread, no pasta, no ice cream. For a week, belly-bloating carbs are literally off the table. The go-to source of carbs for the week is the potato, which boasts resistant starch that breaks down into fiber to prolong that feeling of “I’m full.”

Everything’s gluten-free! Because desserts for Passover are prepared with potato flour, those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance (including Rossum!) can finally indulge their sweet tooth by storming the Passover aisles of the supermarket. Indulging in moderation means fighting off deprivation.

No processed snacks. When pretzels, chips and muffins are verboten, your snack choices narrow down…to fresh fruit and veggies, cheese, nuts, and other natural foods that will fill you up, not out.

Red, red wine. Sweet,concord grape Manischewitz is the standard beverage at tonight’s dinner, but any kind of wine fulfills the injunction to celebrate the miracle of freedom from bondage. And health experts say a glass of red wine with dinner helps reduce stress levels, lower cholesterol and enhance heart health.

Green living. Among the symbolic foods of Passover are greens from the earth, dipped in salt water and relished with a prayer of thanks for nature’s bounty. It’s the perfect excuse to enjoy more green veggies, packed with cancer-fighting antioxidants. Find more ways to enjoy spring foods here.

The Hillel sandwich. Named for a rabbinic scholar, the sandwich combines horseradish with a sweet fruit paste (apples, walnuts and wine) called charoset. It’s a great way to clear your sinuses, zap away germs and get your nutrients, to boot.

Kicking back at the table. It’s customary during the seder to recline on a pillow while eating, ensuring that you settle in comfortably rather than rushing through the meal and shoveling in your food. The more slowly food is chewed and savored, the lower your risk of overeating before your brain tells you that your tummy’s full.

Blogger Melissa Pheterson  Melissa Pheterson is a health and fitness writer and trend-spotter. Follow her on preggersaspie.com and on Twitter @preggersaspie.

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