Celebrating Passover without the Matzah
I’m sitting at my parent’s house in New Jersey waiting for the first Passover Seder to start and I started thinking about Passover, food restrictions and IBD.
Passover is, hands down, the worst holiday for people with inflammatory bowel disease. The lack of bread and the sheer amount of matzah we consume is a double whammy and definitely makes for terrible bouts of constipation, even in those without stomach issues.
Here’s a really short explanation about why we eat matzah: when the Jews were freed from slavery in Egypt, there wasn’t enough time to let dough rise to make bread. So the slaves strapped dough to their backs and it cooked in the sun while they fled, creating a flat cracker. Thus we eat the matzah to symbolize the slavery the Jews went through.
Matzah is made of wheat, water, and salt. It is baked as soon as the water and flour mix to prevent it from rising. The final product is a dry bread-like product with a high fiber content (according to one site, one piece of plain matzah contains three percent of your daily fiber intake).
The one good thing about Passover is that there is no requirement that you eat matzah- you just have to avoid any type of leaven products. The other good thing is that Jewish law forbids you from observing customs that would harm you. Therefore if eating a lot of matzah would make you sick, you don’t have to. You just can’t eat leaven.
For example, in 2011, Dan got a blockage a few days prior to Passover. Because he had been in the hospital with a NG tube and on a soft diet, he couldn’t eat matzah. Therefore he didn’t keep Passover and because I was taking care of him and prepping for his surgery, didn’t either. We ate other foods that were without leaven- chicken, beef, soup- we just avoided matzah.
Now, while he no longer has a stricture, he still avoids eating a lot of matzah because of the constipation.
The key is to eat matzah in moderation- some is all right but don’t over do it. If you find yourself eating too much and getting constipated, you can eat prunes and dried apricots to help. And if that doesn’t work, there’s always stool softeners!
Here are some foods that you can eat during Passover that are matzah free and leaven free (just keep an eye out for additives like corn syrup):
- beef, chicken, turkey, duck, goose, or fish with scales
- fruit (if your stomach can handle it)
- quinoa (though this is a controversial one)
- nuts and nut butters (excluding peanuts, sesame seeds, poppy seeds)
- dairy products
Chag Pesach Sameach/Happy Passover everyone!
Entry filed under: Diet.