Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Normal I Wanted

Over the past two years, I skipped a lot of birthday cakes. I was on Medifast for the majority of that time, and cake has no place. So many times I made cakes and frosting from scratch for my family without even so much as a lick of batter or taste of frosting. There was something a little sad for me about watching my birthday kid eat their cake and not eating it with them; I did it, and it was no big deal, but it was slightly reminiscent of my childhood, watching others celebrate while I don't. And hey, it's MY kid's birthday so it is a birthday of sorts for me, too: the day I became their mother. The day I went though childbirth to bring that little human into the world. And no, I don't think one *must* eat cake (or any other food) to celebrate, but truth be told they are traditions we've embraced, much like turkey on Thanksgiving. There is just something happy, for me, about fixing up a special birthday cake with candles and singing to my kid every year. I love it. And sitting around having cake and ice cream is a nice little part of that day for us.

This time, I had cake. I had a small slice and it was good. Funny thing... when one of my kids was a baby I made up this cake recipe by trial and error, tweaking and blending several other cake recipes until I got the 'perfect' one. And we haven't had this particular cake in years. Somehow in my mind this cake had become THE BEST CAKE EVER!! It was fantastic, amazing, transcendental. After all, when I brought it to parties, people raved and asked for the recipe. And so I was delighted to make it for the birthday boy this week. And even more delighted that I'd planned to have a slice.

But you know what? It wasn't as awesome as I remembered it. I mean, it was very good, but maybe my taste buds have changed even more than I thought. I have always assumed I will ALWAYS want cake, cookies, pies, candy. It has been one of those foods I long for, and after I have some I want more. But this cake, this great cake, was just... cake. It didn't send me spiraling out of control. I didn't WANT another piece. In fact, half a cake is sitting in the kitchen *right now* and I don't want any of it. I don't care about it. If I get hungry I'll have a yogurt. No biggie. But it IS big that my tastes... my mind... has changed about this.

This is what I dreamed about: being *able* to sit down with family and have that one slice of birthday cake without being triggered into eating more. I just wanted to be normal. And in this same week, at a friend's birthday party, I *turned down* cake even though there were food pushers. It looked good and had cream filling and I thought I'd like it, but it wasn't special like my son's cake would be. It was a store bought cake, I didn't really want any. I said no thank you as many times as it took. And I did not miss it or regret it and I was able to still enjoy a piece of my own son's birthday cake on another day. THAT is the normal I have been seeking: saying yes if I want to, no if I don't, staying balanced and in control and being happy either way.


LHA said...

You are writing about exactly what I have experienced! For so many years I thought that foods were "good" or "bad" and that I had to say no to all bad foods or I was a bad person. I thought if I ate one bad food or had one bad food day, that was it...I might as well binge because there was no hope of losing weight.

What a crock! I have finally learned just what you said. A cake is just a cake. Once I quit giving so much emotional importance to whether or not to eat a simple piece of birthday cake, I had no more binge cravings. I can have cake if I want it, and I can still lose weight and be healthy. I have proven that over the past few years. I do limit my sweets to special occasions most of the time just for health reasons, but even if one day I eat ice cream for dinner that is still no big deal.

You're right. This is normal eating, you CAN lose weight this way, and it feels great!

Diandra said...

That's great!

Allison said...

Good for you- something you've been working toward for years has been achieved!
This is the post you want to go back and read when you are having a tough eating day- when food seems to be the solution to your woes or the thing that will occupy your thoughts.

Andra said...

This post really made me smile. Happy birthday to your son!

Lindsey said...

I know what you mean, too. After we are restricted from eating certain foods for a time, we start to like, no love certain foods. In our mind we might have nostalgic feelings for the cake, but I think it's really the feeling that cake gives us that we enjoy. It feels like celebration and friends and happiness and joy. This is what we crave. When we discover we can have those feelings with an avocado instead of cake, it's a real gamechanger. Oftentimes even before, after I ate cake, I felt sick in my stomach.

Kimberly said...

Oh my - so timely!!!

My daughters birthday is Friday and a friend is making these yummy cupcakes. I have been debating about eating one for weeks. I agree... my goal is to be able to celebrate and have a cupcake with her if I want to without it making me lose focus and spiral out of control. It is just one cupcake - not a huge amount of calories - and a very special occasion. If I want to, I WILL have the cupcake and enjoy it for that day!

And I WILL also keep working towards my weight goal as well;)

dlamb said...

I found that if I did not have what you call "normal" occasions during my year, I ended up rebounding and doing much more damage. I think you may have found that out when you were doing MF. You were able to resist for a certain period of time, but eventually you ended up eating what you wished in amounts larger than the one slice of cake you would have eaten during your child's BD celebration.

I do believe that we have to plan these things though, if they fall outside of our normal eating patterns (in my case calorie counting with the emphasis on pretty natural foods). There are some special occasion during which I find it relatively difficult to count every calorie and some when I eat more than my allotted calories but I balance it out the following day or two by eating less.
The times when I've gotten into trouble is when I forgot or I believed that "eating like a normal person" meant that I could eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, just perhaps not as much as I wanted. I kept forgetting that 1. I was NOT normal and my appetite and food addiction kept me from behaving rationally and 2. THAT is not how NORMAL people eat.
I am glad to hear that you've been able to regain some happiness by participating fully in your son's birthday as well as the ability to turn down unnecessary occasions to eat something that may not be feeding your body as well as other choices.

Julia@inspirationforweightloss.com said...

It's good to hear that it can be done, I'm still very much in the process of trying to get to that place, were one small piece of cake (or chips or chocolate) does not open the floodgate for craving more and more and then giving in to it. Congrats!