Breaking the Fast

October 2, 2009

I’ve never successfully fasted for a day. I tried once in high school and made it til 3pm when I arrived home to brownies on the kitchen table ( a very rare occurrence) and gave in to choclatey chewey goodness.  I don’t really understand the idea of a “fast”, why do we even call it “fast” ??  I’m Catholic, and pretty much our fasting rules have completely disappeared ( to my knowledge) since Vatican 2.  This past Monday was Yom Kippur – which since meeting my husband, I’ve learned it’s not just an excuse to not follow alternative side of the street parking, but an actual holiday: a day of atonement.  The way I understand it, you’re supposed to atone for all your sins for the past year so you can start anew.  Kinda of the Jewish version of confession.  Someone please correct me if I’m wrong.  But for our purposes I think my layman’s understanding of it will suffice.

Last year was the first time I was invited, along with my husband, to “break the fast” on Yom Kippur.  Since my husband is kind of a “non-practicing” Jew, he’s never fasted on Yom Kippur since I know him, so I didn’t really know what to expect.  When I heard the words “break the fast” I had visions of long buffet t tables laden with food.  I dreamed up something out of Dickens, complete with a Christmas turkey.  Of course, in my dream there was also a huge platter of lasagna and a tray of antipasto.  When we arrived, there was a lovely spread.  But it was lacking in the opulence and rich food that I thought anyone who’d not eaten all day would want to have! There was tuna and chicken salad, bagels, cream cheese, lox, and matzoh ball soup.  It was a decent spread for a brunch after a long night of drinking, but for dinner?  For dinner after a day of starvation?  I must’ve had a sad look on my face, because the hostess of the evening saw me and said, “Sorry Marie, it’s all Jew –food” to which I responded, “Where’s the baked ziti?”  Alas, no pasta. 

I remember complaining aftewards that we needed to order a pizza because there was no way I’d be full after a half a tuna fish sandwich.  This year, we were invited again.  I was better prepared  now, l I knew what to expect.  I figured I’d have a large lunch to compensate.  But when I got to work that morning, I had a bit of a knot in my stomach, so I skipped breakfast and then skipped lunch a few hours later.  Skipping meals is not something I do often.  In fact, I never do it.  I hate that people who say, “Oh I was so busy today I forgot to eat.”  Um, no.  I never forget to eat.  And I wasn’t forgetting that day either, I really had an upset stomach and just didn’t feel like eating.  Around 3pm I ended up having some crunch dried fruit (don’t laugh, I ordered it from QVC) as a snack.  When we arrived at the “breaking of the fast” I was starved!  I was ready to break my self-imposed semi-fast.  This year it was more of the same “Jew-food” plus a pot filled with meatball. No pasta, but at least there was some tomato sauce.  I ended up making a mock meatball parmigiana hero with some fixins from the deli platter.  It was good, and I was satisfied.  I guess this year, I acted less like a fat person.  I paced myself, only ate enough to be satisfied and found a way to be happy without the pasta.  Both of the Yom Kippur’s were family parties of my husband’s and I realized something very important.  In my family, a holiday isn’t complete until you are stuffed to the gills with meat, pasta and cheese.  There’s always a run-in with mhy grandmother where she says, “Did you eat enough? Finish this!  Let me make you a plate.”  Plus, there’s ALWAYS food around!  It’s so tempting to just keep eating.  Granted I think some of this is a cultural difference.  But I think more than that this a a skinny/fat divide.  Skinny families are skinny because they eat alike.  They don’t over eat, they don’t serve way too much food, they don’t eat as a means of entertainment, simply put, they eat to live, not live to eat!

Overweright families carry on all the bad habits that make us fat. Now, I don’t attempt to blame my big fat Italian family for making me fat, but let’s be honest, it doesn’t help! And really no one in my family is “the biggest loser” type of overweight. But most of us are, shall we say, “trying to lose 20 lbs” at all times. I’m going to shift the paradigm within my family. I’m going to stop eating when I’m full and not when my plate is empty. I’m not going to eat just because everyone else is. I’m going to bring more healthy foods than unhealthy ones to family parties. I’m going to spread the word that Weight Watchers, or any weight loss program, isn’t torture after all.

It’s going to be a tough job, but hey, someone has to do it.

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