Why I Didn’t Eat My Whole Birthday Cupcake
I want to tell you a secret. Those who are most successful at sustainable fat loss never eat “perfectly”…and that’s exactly why they are so successful and consistent over the long run.
What I mean by that is they don’t battle to see how perfectly they can restrict and “be good”. They enjoy a life of nutritional freedom and flexibility, barren of the phrase “I can’t eat that”. They know they can learn how to eat to please both their taste buds and their bodies.
This was what was left of my (delicious) birthday cupcake from this weekend after I ate my fill:
When I was on whatever diet of the week, I would have INHALED every crumb of it and licked the container clean because
1) It was my birthday and that was an excuse to “relax” and
2) As soon as I was done it would be “off limits” again and who knows when I’d EVER be allowed to eat a sweet again.
This time around, I ate just enough bites of it to feel satisfied, put it back in the fridge and moved on. No FOMO, no guilt, no shame, no need to burn it off, no feeling deprived.
In the past, I wouldn’t have even been able to handle half of a cupcake sitting in my fridge without being powerlessly drawn back to it with my mouth watering, thinking “F it, I already blew my diet by eating some of it, might as well eat the whole thing and start over tomorrow.”
If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ve probably heard my story of the Thanksgiving night I polished off more than half of a pumpkin pie that was leftover in my fridge. I knew after Thanksgiving, pie would be off limits again, so I had to eat ALL OF IT. RIGHT NOW. Because it’d be back to plain chicken and broccoli come the next day and I wouldn’t allow myself pie for an entire year.
That kind of deprivation was the PITS.
But that was literally the mindset I had towards food. There were good foods and bad foods, ways of eating that were on the wagon and off the wagon, clean days and cheat days. If I overindulged, I had to restrict to make up for it, totally berate myself and feel disappointed that I “failed”.
It was EXHAUSTING, made me feel awful and I was never able to maintain my weight. Not to mention, constantly having to buy new pants because my weight was always up and down was THE worst.
So how did I break the habit of either being “on” a diet or completely “off”?
The answer is – you prrrrobably don’t want to hear it – a moderate, flexible approach. Every single day, all year long.
Moderation isn’t flashy. It doesn’t come packaged as a 21 day fix or a miracle pill or diet of the week. However, if we want results and a way of eating we can sustain for life (with a heaping side of sanity), 7 days of moderate eating will ALWAYS beat 5 days perfectly “on” a diet followed by 2 days “off” bingeing everything in sight.
Moderation is saying no to both deprivation AND overindulgence. It’s finding that middle area where we can eat, feel satisfied, and still reach our goals – which looks different for each of us.
Moderation is approaching food the same way whether it’s a Saturday, a Monday, holiday or vacation, because nothing is off limits. This is what makes it sustainable.
And that’s exactly how I approached my cupcake. I knew cupcakes would still be there tomorrow and the day after and if I really want one, I can eat one whenever I want. Suddenly cupcakes aren’t so special anymore, right? 😉
Since ditching the all or nothing eating mindset, I can now CHOOSE my indulgences, and use them strategically, rather than be strongly pulled to them via cravings, loss of control or feelings of deprivation.
If I truly want a once off-limit food, like a cupcake, I eat enough of it to feel satisfied, not stuffed, and I move on. I know that I can always come back and eat it whenever I want, any day of the week, if I truly want to.
Because here’s the thing – it’s always when we try to white-knuckle our way through restricting and avoiding “bad foods” that our cravings for those foods skyrocket and become so unbearable that we inevitably end up losing control and overeating.
Then we throw in the towel, and feel like shit about ourselves until we start the cycle over again. But what if instead, we have just enough of those foods to satisfy us, when we absolutely want them, and move on – without over doing it? Because that’s what eating moderately is all about.
And listen – moderation is HARD.
It’s not eating everything with abandon because we’re just using moderation as an excuse to eat whatever we want – because remember, overindulgence is just as extreme as restriction. It’s understanding that enjoying the way we eat is our most effective strategy for compliance, consistency and sustainability.
When we truly enjoy how we eat, over time, we stop feeling the impulse to binge, because we always acknowledge the abundance of being able to sample any food any time if we truly want to.
We can get to the weekend, a vacation or a holiday and we don’t feel the need to reward ourselves or “relax” with our eating because we’re already chill around food 24/7.
It’s taken me a bit of time to get here – and I still haven’t fully mastered it yet, but it’s a PRACTICE. And it starts with just well, practicing, and building up confidence through small wins.
Instead of depriving myself completely and chasing perfection Monday through Friday, I started giving myself a little bit of wiggle room during the week.
Eventually, I would get to the weekend and I wasn’t ravenous for burgers and ice cream and pizzas, I didn’t need to “reward” myself for being “good” all weekend and I didn’t feel deprived either.
And yes moderation takes time, courage and mindfulness, but compared to the opposite – a life of yo-yo dieting and always feeling powerless around food – I’ll roll up my sleeves and take a little extra work.
After years of crash dieting, weight gain and searching for the next quick-fix, ask yourself – “how’s this really working for me?” And maybe consider a different approach (: