By: Tanya Rosen
Think about the built-in self-control we have every Pesach. We can’t eat our usual foods; some don’t even go out to eat or eat in people’s houses, yet we don’t think twice. We don’t think of it as an option. We just keep doing what we need to do. It’s the same concept as when something isn’t kosher or we’re fleishigs and something is dairy.
No other holiday requires as much prep as Passover. The amount of cleaning, cooking, shopping, making menus, etc. Dieting also takes prep. People seem surprised about that. Our plan is super simple and doesn’t require much prep but still, some is required yet people get taken aback by that. I think knowing it will be needed, will help. It won’t be a surprise, more of a fact. After all, we’re not surprised about the Pesach prep year to year.
Judgment doesn’t matter
Pesach is a time where different people have different traditions and levels of stringency, yet no one really judges. Everyone allows for people to do what they feel comfortable doing. Even when someone says they won’t eat in your house, you accept that and don’t get offended. When it comes to dieting, however, everyone is quick to judge and give advice and try to persuade people to do things they’re not comfortable doing.
Celebrating freedom with not being free? Contradicting?
On Pesach we’re officially celebrating freedom yet we do so in a very ‘not free’ way. We’re not free to use whatever utensils we want. We’re not free to eat what we want or go where we want. Maybe if we stop looking at dieting as a lack of freedom but rather doing what we need to do, we will have a different perspective.
It’s temporary, not forever
We get through Pesach as hard as it is, knowing that it’s not forever, it’s temporary. We need to look at dieting the same way. The hard part (weight loss) is temporary and won’t last forever. Once we reach our goal and are ready to maintain it, it will be a lot easier. Almost anything can be done if you keep in mind that it ISN’T forever.
I asked my staff to think of more ways Pesach and dieting are similar and here is what they said:
- From Basia Fenig, one of our nutrition counselors:
Self-control and TRUE freedom.
The whole idea of Pesach is about freedom. The question is, how is it that the Jews were brought to freedom and then given a book with 613 laws to keep? How is a book of rules considered freedom?! And the answer is that freedom isn’t about NOT having rules, it’s about being able to have the power to choose right from wrong; being able to have self-control and choose what you know is ultimately good for you (keeping the Torah and mitzvos) is real freedom. And so too when it comes to dieting. Being able to say no and hold back when you really want that piece of cake is true freedom!
- From Basya Kovacs, one of our nutrition counselors:
It’s about food planning and self-control. Self-control is actually a good connection to kosher in general. We stay hungry or avoid delicious-looking food because it’s not kosher or we don’t know its’ status, but we sometimes don’t control ourselves and avoid the temptation when it IS kosher. Both take preparation but pay off in the end. Pesach cleaning and dieting are hard and exhausting but need to be done. For most of us not eating chametz on Pesach is no struggle at all, so we can train our minds that unhealthy stuff has no room in our bodies. If we can transmit the natural self-control we have on Pesach to all year round, we’ll be in good shape.
So many parts of Pesach stay with you as reminders of how strong and well prepared you are and how much willpower you really have when you put your mind to it.
Just like on Pesach they worked hard, dieting is also hard.
But after, when they got out of Mitzrayim they were on the highest level. When you are done dieting, you too will be on a high level but you must have consistency.
Come Pesach, your house is all clean and fresh and you feel so good… the same thing with a diet… when you start a diet you feel so fresh and so good!
On Pesach, you have to remove foods as Hashem says.
On a diet, you remove foods that aren’t beneficial as the nutritionist says. Funny how on Pesach we have no issue staying away from chametz cake and cookies because it’s written in the Torah and instructed by Hashem. We have to apply the same principles when dieting. The wrong foods are chametz and our diet is a year-long Pesach (hopefully not a whole year but you get the point).
True “freedom” is one who has self-control.
A lot of people only eat homemade food on Pesach; nothing store-bought, nothing processed, and just simple ingredients. Some do the same with dieting. Pesach is a holiday all about freedom and letting go of our past so it’s also a chance to let go of bad habits that don’t serve us and to be free of the dieting myths, bad habits we have with food, self-sabotaging, etc.
Freedom and rules
Freedom from Mitzrayim was actually when we got the Torah, which is a set of rules and hardly seems like freedom; but actually, without any rules we are much less free and we are pulled this way and that way. We overdo it and feel guilty when we do whatever we want. Same with dieting, by having a good diet, a good set of food “rules”, it frees us up to enjoy food guilt-free.