What I Learned From Not Eating Bread For A Week

I didn’t go on some trendy LA diet, I’m not actively trying to lose weight, nor have I developed a sudden allergy to gluten. But what I’ve learned is that giving something up out of religious obligation is still a hot take in 2019, even amongst your own community.

Usually I try (and fail) to eat kosher for Passover. As a reform Jew, my group is typically the most liberal–even with our own religion– to the point where a chunk of us would describe themselves not as Jewish but as “Jew-ish.”

Many reform Jews don’t fast for Yom Kippur or keep kosher for Pesach, but recently I’ve done both. Like really recently. As in, it’s still Passover while I write this.

For a week I haven’t consumed leavened bread, pasta, tortillas, rice, corn, legumes, or anything like that. I haven’t had any oat milk lattes, no popcorn, no bagels, no penne alla vodka, etc…just a lot of salads and semi-creative/mainly shitty meals with some form of matzo.

(Not counting the eggplant salad or chicken I made with you, Mom. Love you)

In the process, I learned a lot about myself, my body, and about the company I keep.

One: I Get Hungry Every 5 Minutes Without Bread

I’m a hungry person and I eat a lot, but after two days of not eating any sort of bread-stuffs except matzo, I found that I was near ravenous All. The. Time.

Like I would make eggs and avocado for breakfast and then five minutes later I would be hungry still, so I would have some fruit. Then I would get hungry again, so I would have a sheet of matzo. Then I would STILL be hungry and I would be S.O.L. (shit out of luck) because I didn’t want to eat more matzo or more fruit.

Two: I Eat So Much Dairy!!!!

I definitely kind of knew that I could survive off cheese forever, but this confirms it. If there is suddenly a world-wide bread shortage, I can and will survive on string cheese and Babybels for the rest of my life. And enjoy it.

I have had more cheese this week than any other week in recent memory. You know who else loves cheese? Fellow Jew (and problematic AF) Courtney Love.

Three: The World Needs More Salad Options Without Croutons/Tortilla Strips

I get that it adds crunch, but more restaurants should offer salads without croutons/tortilla strips/wontons!!! What about our celiac brethren! People on medication with specific diets! Or people with a fear of tiny toasts! I don’t know!

The point is, there were hardly any salad options that weren’t covered in tiny bites of bread and I can imagine that if you are avoiding bread for any reason but want a salad, this makes your life a little harder.

While this is truly not anything terrible, I do have a very sad story about a crouton incident I once had in college:

When I was a junior and kosher for Passover I went to Panera and asked for a salad with no croutons. They gave it to me WITH croutons. I came back and tried to explain that I couldn’t eat the croutons. These croutons weren’t just like sprinkled on top, they were in and around and all over the salad, hiding under lettuce leaves– like the bread sprinkles from them were on the salad, making it impossible to eat if you’re K4P (kosher for Passover).

Instead of just saying they would make me a new one, the server was pissed off and asked me in a very rude tone, “do you want me to pick them out?”

“No,” I said through gritted teeth. “It’s fine.” And then I threw the salad out in a trash can in the back of the restaurant and left.

Yes, I feel guilty for not giving that salad to a hungry person. Thank you for asking.

I am telling you this story for no other reason than to say, fuck you whoever rude ass Columbia student was working at the Panera at State and Congress in Chicago!!!!!!!!

Damn!!

Four: People Want To Talk You Out Of It

“Just have some! I won’t tell!”

“Oh, I’m sure God won’t care if you take a little bite”

“Dude, just eat it!”

I’m sure God won’t care if I eat a bite of your sandwich, but I do. It’s called accountability–look it up!

jk

But for real, this is me trying to be accountable for myself and actively attempting to be a part of the religion I claim to be a part of (though I’m sure I’m doing a shitty job). It’s nice that you want me to taste your food or maybe it’s rude that you don’t want to listen to me complain about how I can’t eat real pizza for three more days??? But also could you stop? lol

It’s a personal choice that doesn’t effect you and your discomfort with it is showing.

Five: People Think You’re More Religious Than You Actually Are

I’m not going for Super A+ Jew here or anything. I’m just not eating bread. I’m not even actually keeping kosher. I think the only certified Kosher food I’ve had is the matzo I’ve been eating all week. I can’t really even call myself K4P, I had shellfish at Disneyland!!

But in the week I haven’t been eating Br3adZ I’ve been told by Jewish friends that I’m a better Jew than they are and have had non-Jewish friends say they didn’t realize I was so religious. All because I am taking a week of my life to reflect on the suffering of the Jewish people, the story of Passover, and can’t eat nachos.

So WHY am I doing this?

Because honestly, it’s been a rough year. I know it’s only April but I guess I am referring to from last April to now. It’s been a rough two years, actually.

Little meditations like this remind me that suffering isn’t permanent. I could just get “this too shall pass” tatted above my ass, but a week without bread seemed cheaper.

Doing this, I not only remember the suffering of the Jews fleeing Egypt, I reflect on the suffering of my own life–admittedly not that there’s been much–but this Passover I want to be dedicated to mindfulness and the power of choice.

I want to engage in active remembrance of the passing of people I love, how hard things have been for people in my family, the end of relationships, jobs, moving, anything, everything. All the things that have been weighing me down.

Suffering isn’t a choice–no matter if you’re an enslaved person or your brain chemicals have decided to rage against you. However, choosing to remember and honor that suffering is.

So that’s why I did this. I wanted to sit with it for a week, feeling my stomach gurgle while I watched other people eat bagels, and make it count.

I thought about my sister. I thought about my Zayde. I thought about Andrew, who said this was like Jewish Whole 30 and therefore I am never doing that diet probably ever. I thought about my parents, and my friends, my Uncle, and anyone I had ever loved and lost or hurt and anyone who had ever hurt me. I didn’t ask for forgiveness or forgive, this isn’t Yom Kippur–but I thought about them to keep reminding myself why I was doing this.

Suffering isn’t permanent. The time you spent hurting deserves to be honored. Things could always be worse.

Love you

xo

 

All The Things I’m Gonna Eat When I Can’t Eat Bread For Like A Week

Passover begins Friday, and for some Jews that means no bread for 7-8 days (depending on how you observe the holiday). The best way that I can explain Passover is by having you listen to the Crazy Ex Girlfriend song, “Remember That We Suffered.”

Not only is it one of the best songs to ever grace the series, but it captures the thesis statement of Passover (and most Jewish holidays tbh) which is to reflect on the fact that once upon a time, the Jewish people did not have it so good (cut to 2018/2019 when once again, we don’t have it so good. But also…did we ever?)

If you think everything I am saying right now is bullshit and you want to Google Passover, this is what comes up: Passover “commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery, lasting seven or eight days from the 15th day of Nisan.”

…..I feel like my explanation told you way more.

One of the main things you do for Passover besides recite the 10 plagues and black out on four glasses of wine, is stop eating chametz– or leavened foods (breads)– for a week, to remind you of how our ancestors didn’t even have time for their bread to rise before they had to flee. You’re allowed to eat matzo (pronounced mot-zah) because that’s basically what they had to eat.

You may be thinking “LOL okay I can survive without toast or sandwiches for a week, matzo is like crackers!” but let me tell you what leavened bread really means…

NO: bread, cereal, cake, cookies, pizza, pasta, tortillas, pita, bagels, soft pretzels, beer, legumes, corn, rice, wheat, rye, oats, barley, spelt, and I’m honestly probably forgetting some others.

Plus, one of the many things I have in common with Oprah is that we both LOVEEEEEE bread. I eat pasta constantly and most of my mornings start with toast or a bagel. So bread withdrawals will probably turn me into a monster. Also, you try eating large sheets of crackers for a week. You’ve never BEEN so constipated.

So while I will be enjoying matzo brittle and maybe the odd matzo pizza (I would rather die than try this matzo lasagna recipe tho, matzo is NOT noodles) I will be mainly relying on vegetables and meat as nourishment.

Is this what Atkins is?

My friend Bredée is obsessed with Yum Nua, a Thai beef salad that sounds pretty tasty and easy to make, so I thought I might try that.

I would eat sashimi if I were still eating raw fish.

There is a cucumber salad with melon and rosewater labneh from Kismet in Los Feliz that I am obsessed with, also they have this new oyster mushroom dish I want to try, so I’ll likely have dinner there sometime next week.

I could do a protein style burger from In-N-Out, which means it’s wrapped in lettuce and doesn’t include a bun. Obvi I would order with no tomato (because I hate them).

Normally I’m a veggie burger girl– but a lot of veggie and plant-based burgers are actually made with rice, wheat, corn, and other things that I can’t eat during Passover, so that’s a bummer.

I CAN’T EVEN HAVE OAT MILK I DON’T THINK???? Honestly this is just occurring to me now? Please respond in the comments if you know for sure otherwise brb gonna text my rabbi lol.

At least I can do almond milk.

I can eat Zoodles (I hate zoodles).

This radicchio, apple, and pear salad. 

I could eat a lot of fruit and some sort of yogurt situation. However, I am incredibly picky about yogurt because it reminds me of getting sick in the car as a child.

Honestly, who knows if I will succeed. I try this every year and somehow forget and eat a snack I shouldn’t or just cave entirely. But I enjoy embracing the holiday practice with optimism! It’s tradition, and what do the Jewish people love more than anything?

^^^^Tradition.

Chag Pesach sameach! And lmk if you have any food ideas for me.

xo

 

The Day of Atonement

It’s Yom Kippur but some of you probably don’t know what that means. It’s an important Jewish holiday. It’s the day of atonement. It’s the day we don’t eat from sunset to sunset. We’re also not supposed to shower or have sex. We spend this day reflecting on all the bad stuff we’ve done, and forgiving others who have done bad stuff to us– or at the very least, try to let it go.

Yes, I will spend most of this day watching the clock and counting the minutes until I can put food into my body. But to distract myself I often text friends and family (who are not readily available) an apology for something I’ve done this year or a fight we had or just negative vibes that I want to clear up. Mostly my friends are like “lol it ok :)” but some genuinely appreciate the sentiment and it leads to a deeper discussion about how we can treat each other the way we want to be treated.

After apologizing to a handful of people I realized, I need to apologize to myself (but maybe you, a more in-tune with yourself person than I, do this already). I treated myself like shit for a lot of the year. Like even when I was trying to help myself (hello getting drunk to forget my problems!) I didn’t go about it in a healthy way and ended up puking on my front lawn (HELLOOOO getting drunk to forget my problems!) I was annoying and mean and frustrating and rude and moody and impatient and disrespectful and unforgiving this year, all to me!! My own damn self!! Cue Spider-Man pointing at Spider-Man meme.

When I started this thought process I worried it might be frivolous. I practice self care, I take bubble baths! But spending time forgiving myself for the mental anguish I put myself through…..that feels like I would be better off setting money on fire. It feels spoiled. It feels like I deserve to always have this pit inside of me, anxiety that makes me scratch my skin off and pull out my hair, panic attacks where I can’t breathe, depression where I don’t want to. But why?

It’s ridiculous that it feels shameful for me to admit that I deserve to have an okay time inside my own head. Just like I want to heal my friendships, I want to be able to heal my friendship with myself. Like I would tell a friend, you DESERVE to feel safe and okay and content inside your body, I want to give myself the same message.

I want to tell myself that I should always treat myself with kindness, and that I’m sorry for all the times I hurt you both mentally and physically. I want to tell her that I understand why she is making mistakes, and that she doesn’t deserve a public flogging just because she didn’t try her best or fell into an old habit. Every day doesn’t have to be your best. Days can be days. It only takes 21 days to break a habit or make a new, better one. I want to forgive myself for hanging on to toxic people. I want to forgive myself for then feeling bad that the toxic person feels bad that I won’t let them into my life anymore. I want to forgive myself for spiraling. I want to forgive myself for laying on the floor and not getting up.

I want to forgive myself for not always being able to protect her. I want to forgive myself for being afraid to ask for help. I want to forgive, and I want to feel good.

As with all apologies, it should never end with a “but.” If it does, you’re not actually sorry. I am ending my apology with a promise to do better. I am sorry “AND.” I am sorry to myself and this year I will do better. I am sorry to myself and this year I will be more gentle. I am sorry to myself and this year I will be more patient. I am sorry to myself and this year I will practice saying no, more. I am sorry to myself and this year I will admit to myself and others that I have limits and boundaries and spaces that I don’t want crossed. I am sorry to myself and I forgive me too.

Now, who wants a bagel?