I Forgot to Eat the Damn Cake

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I DID eat this cake.

A while back I wrote about my frustration when someone did that thing I now call the Dance of the Dessert, that “should I?/I shouldn’t!” thing and then they do and then they loudly proclaim their guilt to anyone in the nearby vicinity. Seriously: yawn.

Well, something completely the opposite of that happened to me the other day: I forgot to eat the cake. And until now, I didn’t even bother to talk about it.

You see, this is the kind of thing that might happen when you give up dieting and dieting mentality and embrace internally regulated, totally normal eating. You might do things like accidentally forget to eat some cake, even if you intended to. And you don’t feel that bad about it.

In my dieting days, I was definitely the person to worry about eating the cake (though I would still eat it because IT WAS CAKE). I was also the person to sneak back into the break room later on and cut off another “thin” slice and eat it furtively…and then cut off just another “tiny” slice because I I just couldn’t stop…and then I’d scoop up the icing dregs off the edges of the plate and lick the knife clean (apologies to all those who got to the cake after me…it was probably decimated). Ironically, I was the thinnest I’d ever been…but I still felt so wretched for eating that cake. More restriction would follow until the next cake or doughnut or brownie or tart or…

Last week reminded me how far I’d come since then. Two co-workers had birthdays, and therefore there were two cakes being served up during our weekly team meeting. I had just eaten breakfast and so wasn’t really in the mood for cake. I also have a sensitive tummy and I know putting too much in there first thing in the morning will be misery all day. So I declined the cake and planned to come back for some in the afternoon when I like to have a snack and would have a nice appetite for it – there was plenty and I was confident there would be some left by then.

The day wore on. I was out of the office during lunch so I didn’t get to the break room to see if there was cake left to have as dessert. I got back to the office and at mid afternoon had my current favorite snack of banana with Nutella (because Nutella is awesome). I went home.

Then it hit me…I forgot to go back and get a slice of cake. Damn.

It was completely my intention earlier that day to partake in cake, but in reality, I clearly wasn’t feeling it. And that is the wonderful thing about not being underfed or food-restricted all the time – you don’t eat cake just because it’s there and you’re starving. I also know there will be cake again, and that I will probably have some, which is why missing it this time wasn’t such a big deal.

I don’t tell you this story to brag about my internally regulated eating skills. I feel neither good nor bad about forgetting to get the cake. It was a neutral incident, so I don’t feel smug about it as I might have in my food-restricted days. My behaviors do not make me thin. They simply make me relaxed around food.

I’m telling you this because if you are still feeling crazy around food and it’s getting a bit much for you, I want you to know there is hope. If you are struggling with getting to normal eating, I want you to know that it does happen, and it’s a wonderful relief. Internally regulated eating is that happy place where you get to have your cake and eat it too…or not, if you simply don’t feel like it.

Have you registered yet for the Making Friends With Food FREE video summit?

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I was interviewed for this video series that talked to a whole bunch of experts on non-diet, non-weight centered, body positive health and nutrition – and the best part is – it’s totally free.

So get your dose of non-diet goodness with a video delivered to your inbox every day from July 25 to August 8 and register here now!

Dietitians Unplugged – Our This American Life Breakdown

Episode 12 is available now! Aaron and I had fun talking about the Tell me I’m Fat episode of This American Life.

Listen now:
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Happy Blogiversary to Dare To Not Diet!

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Dare to Eat Cake.

A year ago I started this blog with the idea that I had something to say about a better way to live our lives, at least when it came to food and our weight. I wanted to be one of the voices that spoke out against the diet industry that profits from the insecurity they help manufacture and sells us lies and sham products and then blames us for their lack of success.

Meanwhile, I had some insecurities of my own. I wasn’t sure if I could produce weekly content that people would want to read. I wasn’t sure how much of myself to expose to the internet, which can be a scary place. I didn’t know if I could make one iota of difference in supporting people to get off the diet treadmill. I actually thought if 100 people read this blog by the end of the next year, I’d be thrilled.

Well, I am beyond thrilled. This year, I had 18,351 visitors. For the last 6 months, I averaged 2,379 visitors a month. That’s probably not a lot compared to many blogs, but considering I started out with 300 visitors last January…well, I’m incredibly grateful for every single one of you. I ended up with 172 subscribers and I thank every single one of them for signing up to hear me rant against the diet industry and for Health at Every Size® weekly.

I got to hear from people who are recovering from eating disorders and people who are learning to love their bodies and heal their relationship to food and who told me they found this blog a source of support — they are some pretty cool people. I made some great online allies. Because people were reading and seemed to want more, I felt encouraged enough to start a podcast with my friend Aaron Flores, RDN, which has been so much fun for me. I got to be on Christy Harrison’s Food Psych podcast to talk about my history with food and dieting which was so very super cool. I guest blogged on NEDIC. I was asked to participate in some more projects for the coming year which I’ll reveal as they come to fruition!

Beyond my blog, I saw the body positive movement go mainstream this year. Sometimes, living in my little HAES® bubble, tailoring my social media feeds to non-diet bliss, I’m not sure what’s going on outside in the real world. But I asked around and looked around and sure enough, there it was – body positivity everywhere. Let’s not let the diet industry co-opt this movement for nefarious profit. Let’s continue to make this movement of nourishing ourselves and loving ourselves just the way we are something that lasts and doesn’t disappear from our collective memory as fast as the Ice Bucket Challenge did.

And let’s keep the ball rolling. Let’s keep talking about how diets don’t work, how we can be healthy without going hungry, and how we can respect our wonderful bodies right now. Let’s someday make the diet industry a thing of the past.

So, Happy 1st Blogiversary to my blog and thank you to everyone who visited and subscribed and shared…the message of this blog is nothing without all of you. I wish I could share this cake with you. Keep fighting the good fight and here’s to a New Year of daring to not diet!

Just Eat the Damn Cake

cake2I hear it, or some version of it, at least once a week: “Oooh, if I have this [insert delicious or even just plain regular food here] I’ll have to do at least an extra half hour on the hamster wheel tonight.”

To which I usually cringe, roll my eyes, eat the thing in question, and then leave. I don’t have time for this kind of tomfoodery anymore.

I was recently at a goodbye work party with a fantastic spread of Mexican food. Someone had baked the best tres leches cake I had ever tasted – actually, make that the best cake I had ever tasted…ever – and as I stood next to it at the end of the buffet, the middle-aged surfer dude I work with sidled up to the punch bowl, eyed it nervously and uttered, “Hm…is it worth the calories?” Then look lustfully at the cake. “That’s another hour of exercise for me, I guess.”

I didn’t walk away this day. “Really? Because I’m probably gonna lay down for a nap after this,” I said. I suppose sarcasm shouldn’t be my first line of response, but I am what I am.

I get it. He probably doesn’t want to look like me. We’ve talked before and I know he watches his weight religiously. But if you have to do so much hard math about what you’re taking in and expending, if your energy balance is so fragile that a glass of punch or a piece of cake can throw it completely out of whack, then you’re probably not at the weight that your body wants to weigh – a weight I’d like to define as your happy weight.

Your happy weight, by my own definition, is the weight your body arrives at when you’re just living and enjoying life, eating normally and moving pleasurably. You might be trying to eat healthfully and get regular exercise, but those things don’t take up too much mental real estate. It’s the weight your body eventually returns to even after a week of vacation in Paris (two words: baguettes and brie). It’s the weight you maintain without constantly trying to deny yourself cake or breaking yourself at the gym every night. Because, in the end, trying to outrun calories doesn’t work for most in the long run and it’s no fun either.

I remember having similar thoughts about food during my dieting days. Looking at a piece of birthday cake or a slice of pizza, I’d mentally calculate how much extra time I’d have to spend at the gym that night to compensate. I was terrified the dial on the scale would inch ever so slightly, but steadily, upward. Maintaining a constant level of hunger was crucial to my success, but it sometimes resulted in overeating the exact foods I was trying to avoid, without the joy I would have experienced if I’d just eaten the damn thing in the first place. I was definitely not at my happy weight. I was able to buy size 6 clothing but I was so preoccupied with outrunning my calories that I couldn’t even enjoy it.

The reality is, when you are at the weight that is right for you (and only your body can determine what that is, not some diet plan), you can afford to live a little out of balance, a little decadently, on occasion without facing massive exercise compensation. After I ate 3 small pieces of that amazing cake (that’s just how good it was) I was done with sweets for a few days. I craved lighter meals with lots of vegetables. As far as I can tell, my weight did not change significantly (I don’t weigh myself).  The body has its way of bringing us back into balance if we will only trust it.

I hope surfer dude enjoyed the cake without too much guilt, if he could bring himself to have a piece. After all, cake is a normal, wonderful, usually occasional part of our lives. He probably would have been just fine. I know I was.