How to Prevent Pesach Constipation and Weight Gain
Now we are starting to make our Pesach lists and of course, matzah is on top. Necessary for the seder (or sedarim outside of Israel) it not only substitutes for bread, but if you are creative, it also substitutes for pasta, and myriad other “faux chametz” dishes.
The other Pesach go-to food for many others (especially if you do not eat kitniyot or gebruchts) is potatoes and of course, potato starch.
But, there’s the constipation and weight gain that come with the matzah and overload of carbs that can make Pesach an uncomfortable and fattening holiday.
Whole wheat matzah is best in order to mitigate the constipating effect that regular matzah often causes. Once we switched to whole wheat, Pesach became a lot more comfortable. We also use predominantly spelt matzah as spelt is a more digestible grain than the common wheat that we have become accustomed to, and it has a better nutritional profile. We generally buy both whole wheat and spelt matzahs.
Many years ago, I learned that processed carbohydrates and even white potatoes are fattening, so we have cut back on the amount of matzah and potatoes we use in recipes and eat in general.
As a result I discovered that there are many other vegetables and dishes that I can make instead. And for the most part, our Pesach diet is not dramatically different from the way we eat all year.
Kitniyot (legumes) would not necessarily result in the same weight gain issues, but they should be soaked for several hours before cooking in order to neutralize the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors that are inherent in them.
If you don’t eat kitniyot, but do eat quinoa, the quinoa should be pre-soaked as well.
Whole wheat matzos are more available these days than they used to be, as are spelt matzahs, and even oat matzahs for those who are gluten free. We have found spelt and oat matzahs in the health food stores in Israel and they may be available elsewhere.
Lakewood Matzoh in Israel – whole wheat hand shmura matzah, hand and machine organic spelt shmura matzah and matzah meal and gluten free shmurah oat matzahs are available through Hillel Levin: firstname.lastname@example.org, Yehosuah Perlman at 072-230-7942, Rabbi Grossman at 02-537-7568, and email@example.com. Hos Teva, Chazon Ish 3, Bnei Brak, 03-579-0287, also carries Lakewood matzoh. If you would like to order, don’t delay since supplies run out quickly.
Although there are some foods I will miss, I no longer consider Pesach to be a fattening holiday, nor one of constipation and deprivation, and you shouldn’t either.
What other Pesach food quandaries would you like resolved in order to enjoy the holiday more this year?