Dear Jewish Food Hero,
I love Passover but I don’t think Passover loves me! I put a lot of effort into making interesting dishes for the holiday, but due to the dietary restrictions I find myself using the same ingredients over and over.
I make matzah brei (I have an awesome recipe from Grandma), matzah lasagna, chicken soup with matzah balls, matzah blintzes… OK, you get the idea. I love all the matzah-based foods, but I end up spending most of the week with stomachaches and constipation. I need to find a new way to eat so I can feel light and energetic all week long!
Yearning to be Free (from Constipation)
Dear Yearning to be Free (from Constipation):
Thank you for writing about this important topic. Constipation is disruptive and is an uncomfortable health consequence for many women during Passover. The good news is that constipation does not have to be a part of your Passover at all!
For my response, I am assuming that you enjoy normal bowel functioning throughout the year and that your constipation is directly linked to your Passover diet. However, even if constipation is more chronic for you, the food action remedy I will propose will most probably help too.
It sounds like you are a motivated and creative Passover cook. You make an effort and use your time to make interesting food during Passover with all of your matzah variations. I applaud your focus and efforts. Let’s redirect all that energy into creating healthier meals for you and your body!
Good to know: We are instructed to eat matzah only at the Pesach seders themselves. During the rest of the holiday, eating matzah is optional.
For many of us (myself included), a little matzah is ok for our bodies but too much is not. Too much matzo causes constipation and belly aches. Instead of focusing on matzah as the main starch during the Passover seder or during the Passover week, it can be viewed as a condiment and eaten sparingly.
Our digestive health depends largely on fiber and water. The reality is that there are better foods for our guts than matzah.
For a healthy Passover bowel experience, focus on implementing these 3 food actions which are relevant whether you follow Ashkenazic or Sephardic tradition:
Make your meals plant centered: Fill your plate and your Passover diet predominantly with plant foods (fruits, vegetables, starchy vegetables, roots/tubers, intact whole grains, and (for those who eat them) legumes such as beans, peas and lentils).
Decrease (or eliminate) dairy: Dairy does not help our bowels function. During Passover, replace cow’s milk with non-dairy rice or almond milk.
Drink 6-8 cups of caffeine free liquid each day during Passover; water is essential for proper bowel functioning, so remember to drink plenty of water and herbal teas.
Passover can be a wonderful opportunity to eat simple foods and create simple meals as a way of loving our bodies. Freedom is a central theme during Passover, both from a physical and spiritual standpoint.
Eating the right foods is a perfect way to experience physical freedom, instead of being enslaved by constipation and bloating.
To Your Constipation-Free Passover,
Jewish Food Hero
P.S. The Jewish Food Hero Cookbook: 50 Simple Plant-Based Recipes for Your Holiday Meals can help you add healthy food to your holiday table.