Guess What?! Everyone Likes Cake!
A lot of my patients play the blame-game. I don’t mean they blame their weight issues on others – exactly the opposite! They blame themselves for things that have nothing to do with them personally. This guilt-blame type of thinking can really interfere with weight loss.
If you have some weight to lose, whether it be 10 lbs or 100 lbs, have you ever said (or thought) to yourself “if only I were thin, I’d be able to…..”? Well, I’m here to tell you that many of the things that finish that sentence have nothing to do with how big or small a person is.
Patients will sit in my office confessing their latest nutritional indiscretions (which usually aren’t all that big of a deal) and rarely does the confession end with just the confession. More often than not it comes with a “if I were thin, I could have walked away”….or…..”if I could eat normally, that wouldn’t have happened.” But, my favorite is “if I weren’t so fat, I wouldn’t even like cake*.” What!?! (Btw – I hate the F-word….. Fat is something you have, not something you are.)
Wrong! Weight loss has nothing to do with you liking cake!
I hate to be the one to tell you this, but no one “likes cake because they are fat” – we like cake because we are HUMAN and cake tastes awesome! I know I furrow my brow when I hear these things, because I’m thinking to myself “wow…Iike that stuff, too!” Sometimes, I joke with my patients and tell them to get over themselves – they aren’t the only people on the planet that like cake! 🙂
I try to take the conversation in another direction – one where my beloved patient can (maybe) understand that certain actions and desires are 100% normal from a human perspective. It’s not a character flaw that you enjoy foods that taste good to 99.9% of people on the planet. But, this is sometimes difficult to comprehend. When we “like” things, it can be a bit of an identifier of who we are. And since we obviously need to drop some pounds, we obviously should NOT like cake…but we do…so there is obviously something wrong with us! NO! It’s perfectly normal to like cake! Liking cake does not define who a person IS.
When talking about your neighbor, you may say “that Jim – he loves cars. He’s a total car guy.” But, would anyone ever say “that Jim – he loves cake. He’s a total cake guy.” No. Because liking cake is a fairly universal thing, while being into cars tells us something of Jim’s personality. Liking cake tells us nothing.
Imagine someone comes up to introduce themselves to you. They extend their hand and say, “hello, I’m Jim and I like cake.” Unless you are at a cake convention – this tells you absolutely zilch about Jim. And you’d think…um…yeah, me too. (Okay, so maybe in THAT example, Jim would be forever known as the guy who likes cake….but that’s not the point!) The point is…. the fact that you like cake has nothing to do with YOU, who you are as an individual, or what anyone will remember about you when writing your eulogy! (“Let us all gather to remember Jim, he was one cake-eating accountant…..” Guarantee you won’t hear that!)
What Matters: Not that you like cake, but your RESPONSE to liking cake!
What may not be beneficial for health is the excessive indulgence that may be taking place between you and your cake. This is where the focus needs to be. We are all faced with situations where there will be cake. Some people can walk right by it, some people can take one piece and be fine, and some people take 5 pieces and only eat the frosting off of each. (Not that I know first hand that this happens….) But, then there will be individuals who simply can’t stay out of the cake. It goes into the fridge – but they will make several trips, eating a bit more each time. Does this person like cake more than other people? No! – and that’s where I come in.
Everyone Likes Cake!
The first thing I make very clear to my patients is the fact that they should not feel guilty for natural human desires. I’ve had patients feel terribly guilty because they even WANTED cake – when they walked away and didn’t have any!! It’s natural to like and want cake! What isn’t natural is excessively consuming cake. Those are two very different things.
What’s Next? It’s time to find what’s really causing the problem.
What to do about a cake obsession is beyond the scope of this post. However, I do spend a lot of time talking about over-indulging in cake. Most cake over-indulgers know quite well it has nothing to do with the cake. Is it anxiety? Is it an addiction? Is it binge-eating? I don’t know what it IS…..but I know what it’s NOT. It’s NOT the CAKE**! Cake is a part of life that you SHOULD enjoy, within reason. And you shouldn’t feel guilty for doing so. Why? Because that’s what it’s meant for! If it wasn’t meant to be enjoyed, it would be broccoli!
Be kind do yourself. Give yourself a break! Yes, there’s a problem – and we’ll find it! But, don’t vilify yourself for something entirely natural.
*please substitute your “thing” for cake – candy, pasta, bread, etc.
**No cake was harmed during the writing of this post.
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