Friday, April 6, 2012

Pesach: The Red Sea Beach Diet

Tonight starts Passover. Despite being chol hamoed, I intend to have posts next week. 

I hope you have a chag kasher v'sameach!

So. Pesach is here. Let's assume this is your first or second Pesach (particularly speaking to those of you who haven't converted yet), and that you're trying to "do it all" this year. By now, you've cleaned your home, maybe even kashered stuff. You probably have everything that doesn't move covered in tin foil or contact paper. You're ready, and you're going to make the best Pesach ever!

That's all well and good (and well done!), but don't beat yourself up if you mess up or simply don't make it all of Pesach without chametz. Pesach preparation can be very difficult, and everyone talks about it, but I don't see people talking about how difficult it is to actually do Pesach itself. Everyone says, "Oh, I'm so glad Pesach is here! My house is clean, and now I can relax and have a great week!" While that's usually true for the first night, I don't think that's necessarily true for the other 8 days (or 7 in Israel). Maybe these people who have been doing fast days and making Pesach their whole lives don't think anything about a major (and sudden) diet change, but converts and baalei teshuva often have a very difficult time making such drastic diet shifts, and that difficulty can last several years.

If viewed objectively, Pesach is very similar to a crash diet. You're going cold turkey on almost all carbs that the average American eats. Your diet over the next week will not be balanced, and you will probably be lacking nutrients your body needs. It's hard on your body, and it's hard on you mentally. Forbid a food, and instantly your body is ravaged by cravings for it. 

So if you don't make it...acknowledge it, see what you can do to prevent it from happening again, and move on. There's no need to beat yourself up over it. There is certainly no need to feel like a terrible person if you haven't converted because you're not obligated yet. It's voluntary, so there isn't an aveirah.

Pesach can bring out the OCD in you, in addition to the guilt. Don't let Pesach ruin Pesach. Conversion is a process for a reason, just as we all have ebbs and flows in our Judaism. Remember to learn from all your experiences, both the good and the bad.

I hope this little Downer Debbie pep talk ends up being unnecessary for you and that you have a wonderful, relaxing, kosher, delicious, guilt-free, and constipation-free Pesach.


  1. I guess last year I thought kitniyos would be too hard, so this was the first year I did it. I find it quite healthy (so far anyway), since it's really corn syrup that will get you. I went to the store for my daily requirement of ice cream, realized all my usual staples have corn syrup or soybean oil, and bought, like, lettuce instead. We'll see how the whole "I eat lettuce now" thing goes.

  2. I definitely agree that those newer to keeping KfP can "let Pesach ruin Pesach" as you so eloquently put it. My first Pesach before conversion coincided with my family's easter brunch, complete with lamb cake, ham, dumplings, and easter bread (We're of Eastern European descent, which I feel accounts for the excessive amount of carbs...). I sat on the couch eating raw carrots out of a ziplock bag the entire time! Now I just politely pass on the dinner and instead invite my immediate family over for one of the seders. It works out wonderfully!

    I hope you are having a chag kasher v'sameach! I'm very glad your blog is back in action.

  3. Skylar I totally see what u mean about the sudden *change* in diet, but whole grain matzoh, fruits, veggies, and lean proteins are definitely nutritious.

    1. It certainly can be healthy. But few people I know (especially those new to major but temporary diet changes) have the know-how or motivation to plan like that for one week. One week? We figure we can ride it out and be better next week.

  4. I usually make extra Charoset and munch on that during the week. Tasty and healthy!