Since reading this lovely phrase this morning, it has been going around and around in my head and I just had to come and write the stream of thoughts going through my head.
I was sharing a throw away comment made by someone last evening about me scoffing cake the previous night. It upset me a little. Not because there is anything at all wrong with scoffing cake. Not because cake is evil and must be tamed. Not because I hate cake, or love it so much I cannot get enough of it.
I was upset because it seems to be an assumption of people dieting that we must not or can not be trusted around food. I didn’t scoff cake. I ate cake. I ate a few more mouthfuls than I needed, and I certainly regretted that decision moments later when my tummy started to hurt. But I didn’t “scoff” cake. I ate every mouthful mindfully, really, every mouthful. It was a conscious choice to have cake. I didn’t walk blindly into the kitchen, hunting through the cupboards for something to eat. I had made the cake on Friday for my son’s birthday, and the rest of the family were about to have some. I weighed up whether I really wanted some, or whether something else would satisfy, and I decided I wanted cake. I put a portion into a bowl, and I ate it slowly. I noticed every single taste, the slight burnt sugar, the sharp honey, the rich cream. I was aware of the different textures, the slight crunch of one mouthful contrasting with the soft sponge of the next.
And I had every right to eat that cake!
And cake is nice!
Why shouldn’t I, or you, or anyone, enjoy a piece of cake?
And I realised then, in that moment, how far I have really come through learning of mindful eating, and reading all those books, and practising all those different ideas and principles in the various Intuitive Eating Books. I can take or leave nearly any food these days. Crisps are nice, chocolate is nice, cake is nice. But they all have their time and place and I don’t need to eat the whole multi pack after eating one packet. I don’t need to finish the whole bar of Dairy Milk because I opened it and broke off 4 pieces. I certainly don’t need to finish off the cake that serves 12, because I baked it, and it needs eating.
And I am grateful, so so grateful that I am in this place now. I don’t scoff cake, because there is no need to scoff cake. It serves no purpose. My binges are so few and far between these days. And it really is down to all those books about Intuitive Eating and Self Acceptance, and how Diets Don’t Work.
And I still believe Diets Don’t Work. Maybe even more so today than of recent months. I have lost 3 stone, and I have enjoyed taking what I can from Weight Watchers, and using it for some accountability, but I don’t believe Weight Watchers is the answer to all my problems. It has helped me zone in on more optimal food choices at times. It has helped me make balanced decisions through the day when I haven’t wanted to think too hard, when I haven’t wanted to be mindful, when mindfulness has felt like it would too much like hard work. But using Weight Watchers, or Slimming World, or whatever else, or using none at all, it was ME that put all the effort in to get and maintain that weight loss over the year. It was me using the clubs in a way that helped me.
I have that rebellious streak that so many dieters do, and when someone starts to question my eating of cake, or chocolate, or meal out, then something in me starts to react and resist their rules and regulations. Thankfully now, though, it just means I rethink how I want to handle this whole weight loss thing. In the past it might have meant a binge. “YOU tell me I can’t have cake. I will eat 10 cakes!!”
I do wonder if the “scoff” comment was a bit of projection, because it’s a given that we can’t trust ourselves around food, isn’t it? Maybe they would have scoffed cake if they had allowed themselves any? I don’t know. Maybe they just think I’m a piglet, and so obviously I would “scoff” the cake!
What it has left me feeling though, is that I need a break from following a diet plan, and to instead trust myself a little bit more for a couple of days. No points, no syns. Just tuning in at meal times to what I want to eat, and to how much I need. Back to leaving food on my plate because I reach that point of satisfaction, and don’t need to eat everything just because it is there. Getting out and exercising because I am enjoying the feeling of pushing myself, and because I know it is good for my overall health, and promotes better sleep and a general feeling of wellness, and not just because it means I can eat more food (though that has not been a reason for a number of years now, anyway)
And what it has also left me feeling is that Intuitive Eating is something people would really benefit from reading about! To remove that guilt and anxiety around all those foods that diet clubs continue to have you fearing. To gain some self belief that we can be trusted.
I’m never going to make it as a diet magazine success story. I can’t advocate one way to easily lose weight and keep it off. But I continue to make it as a Stepping into yourself success story, because I am my own success story. I fight depression, I keep making peace with my body, and I’m getting there in marathon training. LIfe isn’t all smooth sailing, one size doesn’t fit all, and no slimming club is going to change your life without you putting your own effort and thoughts and decisions into the mix.
But cake. Cake is definitely not the enemy. And sometimes it can be what makes a crappy day a little bit better!
I do have my own food (well, drink) kryptonite. Don’t get me wrong. I can’t stop at one glass of red wine. Not ever. It’s not that I’m an alcoholic. I just love red wine, and once I’ve had one glass, my resolve and common sense vanish. After a glass of wine, anything goes. And so there is no “legalising” wine. It’s an all or nothing thing, and it’s simply how alcohol affects me. So for a number of benefits, it is better to avoid it rather than attempt to learn moderation. Any other food though, it really is take or leave. And yes, it may have taken many, many years to get to this point, but here I am.