In a way, it seems like much of the year leads up to this very moment – Pesach break.
Pesach time, especially if you go home, is a time to begin to solidify who you are and what you want to take out of your year. It’s a time to start deciding what qualities you want to take on, and how, or if, you want to modify your previous American lifestyle at all.
Skirts or pants? Is only the beginning of the questions that plague the mind of the classic sem girl.
Am I really going to daven everyday?
What should I be reading right now?
Can I improve anything I’m doing?
How do I make sure people don’t judge me?
Are a couple other common mental dilemmas that might be echoing through your mind at this time.
However, something I never thought about until now is that Pesach break is also a time to reflect on food choices and make changes to your diet. You know, what you’ve been nourishing (or not-so-nourishing) your body with this year and if you’ve been happy with those decisions.
You may not have considered this before since it may have manifested itself in a subtle way. Just think about how many times you’ve heard things like,
“Oh, it’s fine, I’ll just do a juice cleanse during Pesach break”, or “I’ll just work out a ton over Pesach break and lose the extra pounds,” or even “The weight will just slide off the second I go home.”
As if we could all be that lucky…
Literally, the comments could not get more sem if I tried.
We’re all guilty of it one way or another, whether consciously or subconsciously. It’s easy to assume that being home in a familiar environment with a routine will allow you to easily shed the unwanted pounds. You may even be tempted to go on (gasp!) some sort of “detox,” “cleanse,” or fad diet (aka starvation plan), since, now that the trays of oily food are gone, there would be nothing in your way.
But please, don’t do it.
There are so many reasons not to, starting with the fact that any type of cleanse which promises near instant results will do more harm for you than good.
However, a few things to keep in mind before I get to that:
- You’re definitely not as fat as you think you are. Although many girls gain weight while in sem, sem70 is a tiny bit of an exaggeration. It’s usually closer to sem10 or tops sem15. Think about this for a minute: How many of your friends have asked you if they gained weight? A lot, right? Probably most of your friends. Now, think about how many people you know actually appear to be significantly heavier. One, maybe. Two tops, right? Chances are you aren’t a part of that statistic, so don’t be so hard on yourself.
- If your biggest stress right now is the five pounds you gained, then you have a great life. Although planning to lose unwanted weight is valid, make sure to appreciate the good things in life and not get too caught up with weight loss, especially if it’s relatively minor.
Now, here are a few reasons not to soup cleanse, juice cleanse, eat only vegetables, drink only tea, eat only matzah, or try any other type of fad diet this Pesach break.
A. Your Body has a Natural Detox System
Did you know that your liver and kidneys both naturally detoxify your body? You don’t need to drink purple juice or green tea in order to “cleanse.” If your liver and kidneys aren’t detoxing you enough, then you have larger problems to fix which certainly won’t be solved by sipping juice.
Also, Juicing rides itself on the wonders lemon juice and cayenne pepper can do for your body, however there isn’t even sufficient science to prove that these ingredients will eliminate toxins from your body. Why should you get caught up in something that doesn’t even have scientific research to back it up?
B. Cleanses Are a Short Way to a Long Problem
Think about a typical fast day – you restrain yourself from food all day, and then, the second the fast ends, you pound food. A cleanse usually works similarly to this – you deprive yourself for several days, and then, when the prescribed time of restraint ends, you end up eating an excessive amount, probably even more than you did pre-cleanse. At the end of the process, you might even have to lose more weight than you did starting out. Your cravings for fats and unhealthy foods will only peak, and you’re likely to have nutritional deficiencies which can put your health at risk. Where is your protein going to come from if you’re not consuming solid food?
C. “Detoxing” Will Make Weight Loss Harder
Ironically, “detoxing” can actually make it harder to lose weight. If you deprive your body so much through the “cleansing” process, it will enter starvation mode. When your body is in a state of starvation, it will cling to every calorie, thus making the weight loss process slower.
There are no short cuts in weight loss. The beauty of eating healthfully is the process. It’s about making healthy choices and slowly seeing desired results. Instead of going on a fad diet this week, nourish your body with healthy, unprocessed foods. Eating clean is the real way to cleanse. Treat yourself to fresh fruit, salads, whole grains, and lean proteins. Although it may be challenging to chose clementines over candy, through focus and determination I know you’ll be able to do it.
See my blogpost On Self Control for guidance on how to stay on track!
Some healthy foodspiration from this week:
Miss Israeli food? Bring the wonderful tastes of Israel home by making Shakshouka for your family. Pictured above is Shakshouka with fresh onions, peppers, tomatoes, and parsley.
Pictured above is a salad with spinach leaves, roasted carrots, broccoli, tomato, white sweet potato, avocado, canned salmon salad and a lemon. The salad is topped with Trader Joes’ Super Seed & Ancient Grain Blend and olive oil.
Enjoy the break!
Happy and healthy Pesach ❤
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Duker Freuman, Tamara. “Why Juice ‘Cleanses’ Don’t Deliver.” U.S. News and World Report: HEALTH. N.p., 26 Dec. 2012. Web. 14 Apr. 2016. <http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2012/12/26/why-juice-cleanses-dont-deliver>.
Khan, Amir. “Juice Cleanses: Health Hocus Pocus.” U.S. News and World Report: HEALTH. N.p., 6 June 2014. Web. 14 Apr. 2016. <http://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/articles/2014/06/06/the-dangers-of-juice-cleanses>.