Apr 10 2014
My friend Anne recently posed an excellent question related to keeping the dietary laws of Passover. “For those of us who are gluten-free,” she asked, “is cutting hametz really a hardship?”
What Anne was getting at, I believe, is the underlying observation that it can be a challenge to get in the right frame of mind for Passover if giving up wheat and other grains is nothing new. Many of us unknowingly (or knowingly) rely on the physical aspect of our holidays to access the deeper spiritual realm where we can focus on what really matters. On Rosh Hashanah we dip apples in honey; we fast on Yom Kippur; we’re commanded to eat in a sukkah during Sukkot; we fry potatoes in oil during Hanukkah; we try new fruits on Tu Bishvat; we make a dairy meal for Shavuot; we feast throughout Shabbat. Rosh Hashanah, however, is not about apples and honey. Hanukkah is not about latkes. Shabbat is not just about pigging out.
Likewise, Passover is not about avoiding bread or experimenting with a trendy diet. Still, changing the way we eat for the week can make an impact on our ability to digest (no pun intended) the lessons of the holiday. Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 9 2014
My family has always made an effort to make the Passover seder fun. Yes, we are retelling a very serious tale of fleeing bondage, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have four question finger puppets or 10 plague interactive toys, right? It wouldn’t be our seder if we didn’t have a water gun to symbolize the slaying of the first born. As an only child, I was always the target.
Is it just the toys that make the holiday special? No. For me it’s about being with the extended family in New York, lovingly talking over each other, laughing harder than we laugh all year, retelling a story that Jews have been telling for centuries, and eating yummy food.
But, what does all of that mean in a year when my cousin’s due date is right in the heart of Passover time and I’ve started a diet which I’ve publicized online? Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 10 2012
There is a half-eaten challah sitting on our counter, left over from Friday night.
This might not seem like much to you, but this is a very big deal to me. Because I didn’t eat it.
Yes, like millions of other Americans, I am determined to lose weight this year. But the odds are stacked against me, and I know it. Not only do 80% of New Year’s Resolutions fail, but, as Tara Parker Pope outlined in her recent New York Times article, my body is literally fighting against me to hang on to the weight. It’s no surprise that obesity runs in families (as it does in mine), but what may be more surprising is that once our body gains extra weight, a variety of different hormones conspire against us to fight against weight loss. Even if we do manage to drop the pounds, other hormones kick in to try and get them back. As Parker Pope says, “This translates into a sobering reality: once we become fat, most of us, despite our best efforts, will probably stay fat.”
It’s certainly true for me. In the eight years since I dropped ten pounds to fit into my wedding dress, my weight has crept up, and two rounds of IVF and two babies didn’t help. I’ve got 20 pounds to lose (and keep off), and I know my body isn’t interested in cooperating in the least. It’s found a steady state, and despite the fact that I was exercising and eating relatively well, the pounds weren’t coming off. I knew something needed to change, but I didn’t know what, or how. Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 21 2011
Can Passover help you look like this?
While searching for Passover seder ideas online this year, I discovered this article from Shape magazine where the author recommends eating Passover foods, even if you’re not Jewish, as a diet.
She highlights the potato, which unlike breads and pastas, takes longer to break down in the body. She goes on to extol the benefits of eating green spring vegetables (like parsley) and the fact that you can’t eat processed foods during Passover means that you are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables.
Now, I wonder whether this author has actually attended a Passover seder. Because it’s not anything resembling healthy (though we did have some plain grilled asparagus this year). I don’t know how brisket, chicken, matzah kugels, potato kugels, matzah ball soup, and dessert after dessert after dessert adds up to healthy. And I’d counter her assumption that you don’t eat processed foods during Passover–because potato chips are often a-ok with the kosher police. (And my go-to snack during these long, long, breadless days.)
So no, Passover is not a diet. If you want to lose weight–do it. Just don’t use Passover as your excuse.
** Note: after some research, I discovered that in fact the author actually hosted her own seder this year. Making her claims that Passover can be an effective diet even more… well, ridiculous.