Baker in Recovery recently wrote a couple of posts about mindful eating, and it got me thinking.
As it was a wonderful three-day Memorial Day weekend here in the states, my boyfriend and I (like many people) had several BBQs to make appearances at. Since now I’m an “out of the closet” vegan, I’ve been meaning to bake some cupcakes from Isa’s book to prove to my family that vegan food can be delicious. My mom has expressed her doubts (“how can you call it ‘buttercream’ if it has no butter?!”) and I wanted to show everyone that YES, vegan cupcakes can be yummy! However, I didn’t exactly succeed.
Since I’ve been trying to lose weight and everyone around me seems to be in the same boat, I opted for the “sexy low-fat vanilla cupcakes.” Of course, instead of the low-fat icing suggestion, I topped them with vegan buttercream. Let’s just say things didn’t exactly turn out. The cakes were a little too dense and tough and stuck to the cupcake tins. I knew I couldn’t convincingly present these to my vegan-cupcake-eating novices. I didn’t want this to be their first taste of vegan cupcakes. My ultimate goal is to craft them a cupcake so delicious that they’d never know the difference. The low-fat option, while I still found it to be delicious, was just not the right fit for the occasion.
Since these little monsters weren’t fit to bring to the two BBQs we were invited to, I was left with my worst nightmare: a batch of 12 cupcakes in my fridge, begging to be eaten. For the past several weeks, I’ve been incredibly good on my “diet,” though I hesitate to call it that: I haven’t even craved sweets, which is huge coming from someone who used to eat chocolate in some capacity every single day. I thought maybe I’d turned a corner–maybe, just maybe, the lure of cupcakes chilling in the fridge would be something I could ignore. I learned this weekend that that’s just not the case.
What this boils down to is something I am very ashamed of: between the two of us, my boyfriend and I, this batch of 12 was demolished within 24 hours time. We had three each the night I baked them, and three each the following day. The worst part of it was that I knew I was bad enough eating one for breakfast. Then, after he left, I stuffed two more down my throat. I knew it was wrong, and I knew I wasn’t even hungry. I’m like a junkie around sweets. I felt like a closet-eater. The shame and embarrassment encompassed me and put me in a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad mood. What good is it that I can diet and lose weight if the heart of the problem remains: that I just cannot be around sweets unsupervised without devouring them all in one sitting?
I even went as far as to put my entire recipe into MyFitnessPal to calculate the calories per each cupcake, hoping that would dissuade me from eating them. They were around 300 calories a pop. And no, it made no difference.
I started to think a lot about mindful eating, which we talked about at length in my yoga + book club back in January-March. I thought I learned a lot from my close reading of Geneen Roth’s Women, Food, and God, but what good is knowledge when it’s not fully realized?
I’m mad at myself and I think this probably means I won’t lose any weight this week (but I’ll still try to stave off a gain)–but the best thing I can do is jump back on the horse and try, try again. So I failed. Lots of people fail. And lots of people treat food like a drug just as I did this weekend. There’s a reason I do that–it’s to fill some emptiness I haven’t yet identified. Part of this journey to healthfulness is being able to identify the holes in my life that convince me to eat, drink, or partake in any other self-destructive behaviors. Beating myself up is something I’m good at, but that only dances around the problem. Punishment and forced misery will not make this problem go away; digging deeper will.
So maybe I’m one of those people that can’t have sweets in the house. Whatever works, I guess. Different strokes for different folks. One day, I aim to be able to have a fridge full of cupcakes without the immediate impulse to demolish them all. That day isn’t today, and that’s okay. I’ll get there.