Monday, April 2, 2012

Cupcakes. The First Step To Setting Yourself Free.

There’s one more piece of birthday cake left, still frozen, awaiting my next move. I enjoyed each and every slice I had last week—the moist chocolate cake and icing—microwave-defrosted to just the right temperature. 

And the festive cupcakes I bought toward the end of the week? I think they ranked even higher. Cupcakes, you ask? More dessert? Yes, they were necessary. I had to buy some. I needed to photograph them, to possibly use on my soon-to-be-updated website. And, because I love these celebratory buttercream-frosted delights!

But I must be honest. I felt compelled to indulge in more baked goods this past week, as I knew what my fate would be by week’s end. 

No, I wasn’t going to be dieting anytime soon. But the annual Passover holiday arrives Friday, the holiday where Jews recall their slavery in Egypt and are commanded to deny themselves a whole list of foods. That means a week without bread, flour, rice, corn, peas, legumes, pasta, cookies, and most baked goods, which are leavened.  That means no meals out, and no pizza, no Thai food or Chinese or Indian cuisine—true suffering, in my opinion.

So I find myself anticipating my deprivation. I strategize to include favorite baked items, and to work in a pizza. I pick up a crusty loaf of bread, to enjoy these remaining days of freedom.

Yet I know this holiday lasts only 8 days. I know that I’ll have the freedom to enjoy these foods that give me pleasure, which I truly love. 

And so the birthday cake lasted throughout this past week. And I shared the cupcakes with friends last night, rather than hoard them for myself.

But what if you didn’t trust that you can eat these foods anytime? What if you didn’t give yourself permission to enjoy what you really like to eat, the foods that satisfy you on so many levels? Do you think the cake would last the week? Would you have been able to eat a part of a cupcake, sharing portions with friends?

From my experience, the answer is no. If you don’t feel entitled to eat sweets, for instance (or bread, or grains or fill-in-the-blank) you’ll overeat them whenever you do get your hands on them and have a weak moment. You’ll eat them and feel bad about it—and then eat some more, perhaps believing you’ve already ruined in, so you may as well keep eating.  You’ll eat more than you really need, because you don’t believe you’ll get another chance. And when you eat this way, you hardly enjoy the food. You barely taste it. It’s so not worth it.

Regardless of your religion, there’s no need to stay enslaved. 

You deserve to eat. And you deserve to enjoy what you eat. 

You deserve to eat enough, to be truly satisfied. 

Grant yourself the freedom to choose foods you’ve denied yourself. 

Grant yourself the right to eat them in plain view, not in the closet or the car. 

Break the diet chains that bind you, and free your thoughts from the rigidity that enslaves you.

Only you can set yourself free. And if you celebrate this Passover holiday, remember--it's only 8 days!


  1. As a Catholic and recovering anorexic, I find it difficult to read about fasting and sacrificing food as a sign of faith and strength in my own religion. While I see your point about knowing that the foods will once again be available after the fasting is over, it sends the wrong message to people that withholding food is representative of someone else's suffering. I think it supports that idea that we should "punish" ourselves by withholding food.

    1. I am by no means endorsing fasting or food restriction in the name of religion--merely sharing its impact on me, to make the point about the consequences of restricting on craving and binging. And I can only speak for my religion which places an individual's health as the highest priority. Someone struggling with an eating disorder would be told not to fast, for instance, regardless of their custom.

    2. I was not stating that your words were triggering or that you were endorsing restriction. I was simply stating that reading about my own Catholic (and other religions') customs and "rules" is eye opening for me because the church sees fasting as a way to "punish" ourselves. It was really just my commentary and thoughts about how religious customs conflict with recovery from ED.

  2. I'm in self recovery from anorexia and I've been using intuitive eating.I am reading this after just finishing a few cookies and a mini cake bar and going straight to bed after. Yes. That's right. I went to bed after eating treat foods. I didnt binge and actually, now that I allow myself whatever I feel like eating until I'm satisfied (so much easier to judge when there's no restricting) I don't get any urges to binge whatsoever. I'm happy that I enjoyed my few cookies and chocolate. There's plenty more in the tin for everyone else and the next time. You get to enjoy food a few times a day, that's something exciting for me now.
    Anyway my point here is that I was feeling the "greed" feelings following my treats, coz I'm still new to recovery and letting go of "bad foods" and I opened up my blogger bed...found the above , and now I.don't feel greedy anymore. I feel proud. I also feel part of the intuitive eating circle instead of needing to feel part of the anorexic circle. Yay for this blog and yay for cookies,choocolate, recovery and strength to follow it through to right now.

    1. So glad to hear this was helpful and that you can begin to trust your body and enjoy such delights as cookies and chocolate!

  3. I agree with Amy. I'm recovering and Catholic and I found it difficult to read as well even though I understand the religious meaning behind it. Still hard to read.

    1. I certainly didn't intend to trigger anyone with this post, and as I replied to Amy (above) I am not endorsing religion's rules and customs--merely observing their impact. For some, the effect of Lent or 8 days of Passover food rules could be a huge recovery setback. In my view, recovery needs to be the highest priority.

  4. As someone recovering from an eating disorder who is also Catholic, I do not find anything about this post difficult to read. My family is full of practicing Catholic's who feel very strongly about giving things up for Lent and following the food restrictions that come along with it. Before this year, I took part in this as well. This year I decided that it would really hinder my recovery if I followed any kind of food restrictions, even in the name of religion. My family was very supportive and understanding of this.

    On another note, giving myself permission to eat things that were once forbidden (breads, sweets etc.) has been a big help in my recovery. My birthday was a few weeks ago and I enjoyed an amazing red velvet birthday cake, with a piece each day for a few days. The most amazing thing ever was the fact that after 3 days of this, the cake lost it's appeal. My last birthday I would have never allowed myself to have cake and it would have been all I could think about for the weeks to follow.

    I still have a long way to go in my recovery, but finding the joy in eating, taking foods off of the "not allowed" list and really giving myself permission to eat has been very freeing.

  5. Thoroughly relating to this post (also Catholic/anorexia recovering) and I find such strength in this posting and in your reader's comments. Daniella's post gives me hope as I exit this Lenten period winds down...Although I still have stubborn problems with the "not allowed" list...I really want to get past the "forbidding-yet-obsessing" point...Just before reading this excellent post Lori, I was busy "bookmarking" potential Easter recipes...If I am able to allow myself to not only prepare, but actually sample my efforts (in front of others)...perhaps the obsessions around such fare will subside. I know that once you posted a recipe for a small almond (or coconut?) macaroon that I know would feel "just right" and "allowed" at this point in my recovery..Do you have a link for it? Thank you for such a timely post for Lent and Passover..

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  7. Totally agreed. It's okay to eat everything in moderation!

  8. I love this post. Granted I haven't figured out how to set myself free and still fight the binging or desire to binge on a daily basis.