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The Passover phenomenon

Friday, April 18, 2014

Every year at Passover I notice the same thing: I am able to follow a diet that is more restrictive than my usual diet. It’s not that I’m motivated, or that I’m particularly religious. Somehow, though, my brain signals to me that I can follow the ‘rules’ for this short period of time. Eight days isn’t too long, right?

During Passover, there is no ‘just a bit of this’, nor any ‘just this once’. It’s a yes or no thing. And I can do it. I do it every year.

This year, I’ve modified it a bit. I’m allowing some kitnyot back in. What are kitnyot? It’s a category of foods that may not be eaten during Passover by Jews following traditional Ashkenazi laws and customs. Kitniyot are grains and legumes such as rice, corn, soy beans, string beans, peas, lentils, mustard, sesame seeds and poppy seeds. Long-standing tradition in other communities like the Sephardi may be different .
Since wheat products no longer seem to agree with me, matzah has been giving me problems this year. So instead I’m allowing rice and chickpeas.

So back to the original premise: I can follow this. Yet the rest of the year, I’m tempted by that bite of this and taste of that. I don’t binge. I’m not gluttonous. I eat reasonable quantities. But the reality is that I’m 5’1”, and my metabolism isn’t wonderful, even with all the exercise. So I need to keep a rein on those treats.

When I tried The Plan last summer to ferret out troublesome foods, I was able to stick to it almost 100% for close to two months. Cheese and yogurt, some of my favorite foods since childhood, had to be virtually eliminated. I continued this way through the end of the year with no problems. I was not tempted by this and that.

And then for no reason I can fathom, I started to stray. I never totally got back on track for more than a couple of days. Inflammation returned, and my body started feeling miserable. Aches in my knees, a constant bloated feeling, you get the picture.

As miserable as I felt, I clung to my self-image somehow. As I look at pictures from my dance camp two weeks ago, I see that I was heavier, but I’m still pleased with the way I looked. That’s something new for me.

While visiting friends in Miami last weekend, prior to Passover, I was subjected to rounds of visits that resulted in having to eat and drink something at each stop. By the end of the Seder on Monday, I was as miserable as I’ve felt in over a year. So the next day, I resolved to use Passover to get back on track. As usual, no problem!

I can do this for eight days, right? After that, I may have to declare another Passover observance for myself! But for now, it’s a start.

Chag sameach!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Like RoxyMom I can see the parallel with Lent, although I wish it wasn't 6 weeks long. Most days are voluntary restriction, but come Fridays it's different.
    I'm not a vegetarian, but I don't eat much meat. Still when I'm not SUPPOSED to eat meat, all of a sudden I want it. Being allergic to fish doesn't help either.

    2468 days ago
  • DEE797
    I related to the aching knees and bloated feeling as well. I'm glad you were able to make some substitutions for the foods you couldn't eat.

    2471 days ago
    I loved Matza's. I cannot eat them anymore either. And substituting rice and chickpeas for them I believe is perfectly fine as you are doing it as a health requirement vs cause you want to.

    2473 days ago
    Dieting is an internal and external battle. We have to covince ourselves we can do it. Second we have to surround ourselves with people of like mind.

    The thing is the rewards of dieting are not instantaneous so it is hard to realize we are doing good. It also allows us to cheat without seeing bad consequences immediately.

    Dietibg is somwwhat like running, it's easiee to continue once we've started, it's tougher to continue after a break. We just need to keep having goals and targets to meet.

    Dieting is a lifestyle change. We can fall of the path a little and get back on - although it's much eaaier not to leave the path.

    Dieting has an individual component to it. We need ti understand what food's we are willing to give up and those that we are not willling to give up. VIt's a lifelong quest but keep moving forward do the best you can and find out what worjks for you. Keep surrounding yourself with likeminded people because they will help you recognize when you've fallen off the path.
    2473 days ago
    I can totally relate! I do the same thing with Lent!
    And, I too hate how I feel when I overindulge by consuming junk foods.

    One step at a time!!
    2473 days ago
    you looked great in those pictures, i thought. yeah me too (5'1/2"). chag sameach (or, as autocorrect offered, chat sumac!).
    2473 days ago
  • NUMD97
    Like with Phebe below me, this blog resonated with me. I, too, came to similar conclusions about Passover observances and "sticking to it" thinking. I noticed that the first year I was on SP I did not gain anything during the holiday which surprised me, consider how laden in calories it tends to be.

    I also noticed that when I lived in Mexico it was not too difficult to lose 29 pounds, and I did not feel restricted (I am kosher as well, so there was that to assist me). I was not terribly tempted by the local fare.

    The whole SP experience, I have found, is an internal journey more than anything else. And the battle within, as it were. Once all that is figured out, I really believe the rest will follow once and for all.

    Thanks for posting this blog. I think many will be able to identify with it.

    Chag sameach to you and yours as well,

    2474 days ago
    I have to laugh, because I see myself in your blog!!!! Sometimes I think the week of Pesach is easier to follow because it's only a week (well, 8 days). So we don't think of it as going on FOREVER AND EVER (l'olam vo-ed). Maybe we need to trick ourselves - "I won't eat X this week" and then "I won't eat Y this week" - maybe our brains need a time limit.
    2474 days ago
    I especially related to the feeling of being bloating and the aching knees. I need to rein it in too.
    2474 days ago
    I've always thought the reason it's easy to restrict foods during Passover is because it's also easy to eat plenty of calories with foods that are delicious and still kosher for Passover.
    2474 days ago
    Yes, the brain is a strange and marvelous place.
    2474 days ago
  • no profile photo CD14270285
    Yep, you can do it! I find the whole Passover/Easter season a time for renewal, so maybe this time will be one for you, too (as far as eating). Good luck!
    2474 days ago
    Passover came at the perfect time for you to get all the stuff that makes you sick out of your system.
    2474 days ago
    Interesting blog. I know little about the Jewish religion. Thank you for sharing about Passover.
    2474 days ago
    Chag sameach!
    2474 days ago
  • no profile photo CD3990357
    emoticon Thanks also for the information about Passover.
    2474 days ago
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