Monday, April 18, 2011

A Slave to Diet Deprivation?

Pastry from French Memories, Sharon, MA

I just bought and ate a delicious Napoleon pastry—cream layered with flaky dough—and loved every bite. But was I hungry? No. Stressed? No. Mindlessly triggered by its appearance? No. I sought out a parking spot to purchase it at a favorite local French bakery and made a bee-line for the display, comforted that one remained. This was not the result of a fresh, enticing baked good on the kitchen counter luring me to eat it.

Being one to overanalyze things, I can tell you why I ate it. Deprivation. No, I’m not embarking on some weight loss diet (no need to panic) nor have I become diabetic, necessitating a controlled carb plan. This is anticipatory deprivation, knowing that I will soon be without the foods I love and cherish—if only for a week.

Just 8 more days!

Tonight starts the festival of Passover, which I observe. From a food perspective it is potentially a holiday of deprivation. That is, unless you are a lover of gluten-free style, bad-tasting baked goods. We give up a wide array of foods to help us remember, to feel as if we each personally experience that which our ancestors lived through as slaves in Egypt. Whether we believe the story as myth or historic truth, we follow these dietary rules quite rigidly.
We avoid anything leavened, for our hasty departure from Egypt left no time for our bread to rise. And so a week without is what follows. But it doesn’t stop here. There’s a very long list of foods to be avoided which includes most of my favorite starches—rice, pasta, legumes and of course, bread and most baked goods worth eating.

Friday I was food shopping and already feeling deprived. I found myself wanting to stock up, even hoard, the soon-to-be-forbidden starches. I recalled the many patients who reported binging the night before their first visit to the nutritionist’s office, fully expecting it would be their last supper, so to speak. And yes, they were pleasantly surprised by my message! And the many stories I hear from those who get anxious thinking about running out of food—not because of money—but because someone, perhaps even themselves, might restrict them from eating sometime soon. Trauma from a history of past diet experiences, perhaps. So now I really get it.

I do love these coconut macaroons! NOTHING like the canned ones in the market!

The remedy for my patients and for those of you still struggling with such deprivation is permission. Permission to eat whenever you need to, regardless of who you are with. Permission to eat whatever you feel like, in amounts appropriate for your body. Permission to eat any time you need to—yes, even at 11 pm, if you’re hungry.

Grandma Bea's sponge cake. Guaranteed to raise
your cholesterol level after only 8 days!
As for me? I had to remind myself of all that I love to eat that I can give myself permission to have. That includes the obvious fruits, vegetables, nuts, and all. And, my favorite baked goods, acceptable for Passover. So last night I baked 4 dozen coconut macaroons, 2 dozen almond ones, and a moist sponge cake. I packaged them up and removed them from the kitchen counter.

And I plan to enjoy them whenever I am hungry, to satisfy my need. On the positive side, at least I didn’t have to sacrifice use of my Kitchen Aid mixer and Cuisinart, although I don’t think the slaves had the benefit of these either.

Yummy almond macaroons.
Passover observant or not, these baked goods are delicious and so easy to prepare. The macaroons are high in sugar, but quite satisfying, requiring only a small dose to hit the spot. And perfect for those with celiac or others following a gluten-free diet.

If you are a follower and would like the recipe, please email me.


  1. I feel better after reading your blog since I overdid yesterday with cranberry orange scones and ate a package of eight by myself in maybe two hours, if it took that long. While I'm not observing Passover, I am observing an 80 pound weight loss and I haven't had anything that looks like a dessert or splurge in about two years. I feel satisfied now and don't plan on buying the scones again because I'm afraid of gaining the weight back. I realize that one splurge won't cause me to gain all the weight back, but it could be a start.

  2. nourishment newbieApril 19, 2011 at 2:44 AM

    Catholics are experiencing similar "deprivation" moments during this "Holy Week"...Key for me is reminding myself that while periods of "abstinence" come and go...the food...whether purchaseable or in not-yet-prepared separate ingredient form (waiting to be baked for example)..will ALWAYS be there....Eating as if it's the last time...the last supper...feeds into the dangerous black/white, all or nothing, feast or famine mindsets that plague those of us with food struggles and fears.

  3. Let's just say it was 11pm (or midnight to be accurate) and let's just say I was hungry. What would be a sensible thing to eat at this hour? Is there anything you should avoid? I'm thinking a bowl of cereal, but of course I can't make a decision :)
    And Happy Passover Lori (I'm sure the macaroons will do the trick to get you through your week!)

  4. Happy Passover! Your two macaroon offerings look amazing..and not too "scary" due to their small versus "jumbo" size..any possibility of acquiring the recipes? Thank you so much!

  5. Happy Passover. Some holidays mean deprivation, others mean abundance! I relate to the binge before seeing the nutritionist. And was one of those pleasantly surprised to find your message was not "You can't have this, you can't have that".... but rather to fit it in with your goals, consider your bodily needs... It has helped me to be more successful, albeit (to me) a slow progress. I want those BIGGEST LOSER weight losses! But alas, I am changing my way of thinking about food and thus my relationship with food. I think I am much more likely to succeed knowing that I don't come from "a deprivation" mentality. Now as for a seasonal food I crave always at this time of year, jelly beans, I haven't given in to this. Because I know I don't need the high sugar. I have indulged in other seasonal favorites, like the hot cross bun I had. Did skip the Irish Soda bread for St. Patrick's Day though. I'm realizing I don't have to HAVE IT ALL. Yum, to macaroons. Love them! Which canned ones is it that are so good? (I've yet to "legalize cookies" since my Girl Scout cookie failure!)

  6. @PJ Yes, even at midnight it's ok to eat--if your body declares its need! And anything goes, regarding food choice. And yes, you burn calories even while sleeping.
    @Donna G. I'd be glad to send them along (specify which you'd like) (I see you listed as a follower, but please send your email as my contact follower link may not be working!)
    @QuincyCarole, Four Windows and Nourishment Newbie (great name!) Yes, it is necessary to start to legalize, including those items you see as junk, but truly enjoy. Or else, you will experience the black and white/all or nothing struggle familiar to diets. Time to find the grey!

  7. I love this post. I don't often see advice for people with religious or cultural dietary restrictions (either temporary or not) so it was great to read about how you managed to honor your cravings while still participating in Passover.

    Thank you for posting this!