Food for Thought

Avoiding Emotional Food Traps on Pesach

Intro:

Several weeks ago, Tanya recommended a book on our staff chat that she felt would help our team better understand our clients’ struggles, particularly those who struggle with emotional eating. I bought the book on Amazon and had it a day later. That night I stayed up until 4 a.m. reading, laughing, and crying as I absorbed every word. Each word was written from the heart, and by the time I was finished reading not only did I feel like I knew and understood the author, but I felt like she knew me. I almost felt like I had a new friend. 

I decided to try my luck getting in touch with Naomi, the author. I was curious to find out if she was as warm, real, and relatable as she came across in her book, and hoped that she would write for the magazine. Naomi did not disappoint. She responded within 24 hours, immediately agreed to write for us, and has since then become an actual friend, not just an imagined one! 

Naomi is warm, genuine, positive, and kind, and is on a mission to help women realize their beauty and self worth. Keep your eye on this column as we explore topics of self care, loving ourselves, and knowing our worth. We are honored to have her on board! 

Basya

I love Pesach. While I understand that statement may provoke an avalanche of eye-rolls from those who prepare for this labor-intensive chag, I just can’t help it.  

The gathering of family, preparing decadent chametz-free meals with my children from the latest cookbooks, and having designated time to reflect on the freedoms we feel pulled to invite into our lives are the top three experiences I look forward to.

But ironically, those elements of chag are the very same ones that have sent me spiraling out of control with food, regressing into the role I played in my family dynamic growing up, and muddying the path toward the freedoms I’ve so desperately worked for. Even if I’m steadfast in healthy habits, my family's arrival will somehow obscure my path.

Before you know it I’m eyeball deep in a can of macaroons, and the grown woman I’ve become has been replaced by the eight-year-old me.  

Does this sound familiar to you? If so, know that you’re hardly alone. Approaching this chag without preparing to be in integrity with our highest selves is a complete set-up. It will throw you out of alignment with your soul and into Tuesday of next week in a heartbeat. The objective in this situation is to become aware of our pasts, how we responded as children, and adjusting those messages to fit our adult lives.

I grew up the youngest, and the heaviest, in a “sisters-only” family. I had two nicknames:  “Baby” and “Fatty.”

As you can imagine, I felt a lot of pressure to prove my worth and to do what I perceived others expected of me. As a result, family gatherings channel the coping mechanisms of the child of my past. Habits like using food to comfort and soothe my nerves as I work toward the approval of others reappear with a vengeance. And by the time Pesach is over, my mind and body are back in the cookies. It takes Herculean strength to right my haphazardly upended relationship with food. And by the time I do, the bathing suit season already upon me looks a lot bleaker than it did before Pesach commenced. 

Believe me when I tell you that it would be so much easier to point out my family's flaws and blame them for the countless pans full of matzah brei I shoved down my throat. But I have found that taking responsibility for the part we play in the family dynamic, and giving forgiveness to those who did their best with the tools they had, allows us to make connecting on a deeper level with our families as adults much more fulfilling. As youngsters we are amazing observers, but not so fabulous at interpreting what we observed. We accept those perceived messages as our identity and bring them with us into adulthood when they were not even our burden to carry in the first place. Realizing that we ourselves conditioned our responses within the family makeup is powerful because we then have the ability to un-condition ourselves and recreate a different story in its place, instead of remaining powerless victims to the past.

Now that’s freedom.

So before your Pesach company arrives, write your new story while understanding that it’s not your family's responsibility to comply, but it is your responsibility to stand unwavering in your light. Hashem has put each of us on this earth for a unique purpose, and overcoming the messages of the past is our shared hurdle. Lean into your greatness and decide who you will be this Pesach and forevermore.

Naomi Joseph

A confessed binge eater for most of her life, Naomi Joseph received a Master of Science from Columbia University in Speech and Language Pathology, and ironically went on to have a 24-year career treating children with feeding and swallowing disorders. Naomi is the author of “Binge and Sprint: From Endless Cake to Recovery,” which chronicles her 40-year journey through binge eating disorder and recovery within the frum community, and has a corresponding workbook coming out later this year. As a thriving and seasoned entrepreneur with a health and wellness network marketing company, Naomi continues to work tirelessly to help others find their best, healthiest lives, and grow businesses of their own. Naomi has been married to her husband, Alex (Mario Alexis, yes, Jewish from Argentina), since 1992. They shared the bond of both having been the “chubby kid” on their first date, and reside in Long Island with their three children. She can be reached through her website BingeAndSprint.com or Instagram @BingeAndSprint.

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