Archives for: February 2012
I’m not feeling so good this morning. Last night my family celebrated Tu B’Shvat, the Jewish New Year for trees. My personalized diet plan only allows my half a cup of fruit per day, but it’s hard to keep the portions so small when there’s a holiday designed for feasting on fruits! We had a large platter with a variety of fruits, all sliced up for sharing. I’d meant to serve a few kinds of nuts as well, since nuts are also from trees, but I forgot to serve them.
I also made two kinds of berry spreads with goat cheese, tuna salad, broccoli, and served it all with sparkling grape juice, rice cakes, crackers, and homemade spelt bread for the kids. I probably ate more fruit than is really good for me, and slightly fewer vegetables than usual. My grain servings were just about right, and I had enough protein. But I still managed to overdo the sugars. I’m not sure if it was from the sheer quantity of fruit, the agave I mixed into the fruit spreads, or the few “avoids” I ate. I limited my consumption of dates to about ¼ of one date, but that might have been too much for me.
After the meal I felt spacey, almost drunk. But getting drunk isn’t quite as intense a feeling as I had last night after dinner. I can only guess my blood sugar was sky high. I went to bed early, but woke up two and a half hours later STARVING. There was no way I could have fallen back to sleep without eating something.
So I got up and ate a handful of almonds and then some of the roast sweet potatoes I’d made for dinner and forgotten to serve. I stayed up and read for a while, and got hungry again while I was still up. I finished off the tuna salad, ate some of the leftover broccoli, had a couple more rice cakes with goat cheese spread, and then went to bed around 2:00 AM. I was also very thirsty all night.
I wasn’t very hungry when I woke up this morning. I’m drinking lots of tea and water and didn’t have breakfast until about 10:30 AM, which is about an hour and a half later than normal for me. I plan to eat lots of protein and greens today, and NOT eat all the fruit I’d intended to eat since it’s still Tu B’Shvat. I think I’ll stick to nuts today.
The Jewish Holiday of Tu B’Shvat is the Jewish New Year for Trees. The name literally means “the 15th of Shvat” so it’s similar to the way American Independence Day is known as “The 4th of July.” As with all Jewish holidays, the exact date on the Gregorian calendar varies each year, and all holidays begin at sundown and end at nightfall the following day. In 2012, it falls on Tuesday night and Wednesday, February 7th and 8th.
Back when the Great Temple in Jerusalem was standing, Tu B’Shvat was used to calculate tithes on fruits and nuts that grow on trees; anything harvested before this date counted as last year and anything from this date forward counted for the coming year. Since we don’t pay tithes or our harvests anymore, Tu B’Shvat has a more symbolic meaning these days.
There are a variety of ways in which Tu B’Shvat is celebrated within the Jewish community. I’m planning to serve a “fruit and nut course” before my regular family dinner. Some families hold a Tu B’Shvat Seder, similar to the Passover Seder, but not nearly as formal. Others serve a wide variety of fruits and nuts alongside the meal but with no special ceremony. There may or may not be a large group of guests at the meal, or a party-like atmosphere. All serve several kinds of fruit. Some have 15 or 20 different kinds of fruits and nuts in all; most will serve all 7 of the special foods associated with The Land of Israel: wheat, barley, dates, figs, grapes, pomegranates, and olives.
Some of those 7 special foods are problematic for my family: none of us should be having barley, only my son should be having wheat, he shouldn’t have pomegranates, I shouldn’t eat dates, etc. It’s HARD balancing our differing diets with the demands of religious Judaism. But I remember that these foods are merely symbolic; it’s not like Passover when there’s a commandment to eat matzah.
I’m going to make omissions and substitutions as needed for the health of my family. But I’m also bearing in mind that there are foods we *shouldn’t* eat and foods we really *can’t* eat. A crumb of wheat could sicken me for weeks, but ¼ of a date won’t do me any harm. I plan to serve the 5 fruits that symbolize Israel, even though they’re not perfectly compliant for all of us. We’ll each eat small amounts and enjoy them, guilt-free. I’ll make spelt bread for the children to symbolize the wheat, and rice bread or crackers for myself. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll make quinoa to symbolize the barley or simply omit it. I’ll also get a variety of other fruits; whatever looks good when I get to the store.
It’s a time to thank the Creator for the bountiful variety of foods that He created, and for making us able to appreciate them. The physical becomes spiritual when we use food for a holy purpose, both by making blessings over the foods we eat and by choosing our foods with a higher purpose in mind.
Certainly the laws of Kashrut are one such “higher purpose” to a Jew’s selection of foods, but physical health is equally important, and is applicable to everybody. If you knowingly eat foods that make you unhealthy, you’re defying the Creator’s will. How can you fulfill your purpose in the world if you’re sluggish from eating too much wheat or sugar, or if you’re bed-ridden from a chronic illness that a proper diet could have prevented? Dr. D’Adamo has given us the tools to nourish our bodies and help reach our physical potentials; I feel a moral obligation to follow those guidelines now that I know of them.