Yes. It's possible.
The following is a guest post from a dear client of mine who has worked long and hard on changing her mindset and behaviors around food. Thinking about how far she's come makes me want to stand up and applaud her.
I just did it. She deserves it!
And you, our reader, deserve to get a taste of what it's like to discover that giving yourself permission around food actually leads to moderation, not chaos. Please read on to hear her story.
“If I make it, I’ll eat the whole pan.”
Growing up, that was my mother’s constant refrain when she was asked if she could please bake something yummy. “So, I’ll make it!” I would insist. But to no avail. My dear mother believed (and still believes) that anything homemade is so good that she wouldn’t be able to stop after one portion. And being a young and impressionable kid, this motto stuck. It became deeply ingrained in my psyche. Baking yummy pastries equals overeating, which in turn, equals getting fat.
Not to worry; I did not grow up in a home without any goodies. Quite the opposite! We would have a variety of store-bought cakes and cookies each week for Shabbos. Which was totally ok. They tasted quite good. But there was no excitement of making something homemade and delicious and then enjoying the fruits of your labor. I have no memories of baking on a lazy Sunday afternoon, learning that ¾ of a cup sugar when doubled means 1 and ½ cups. It just wasn’t a part of my happy childhood.
What I do have memories of is going to play at a friend’s house on Shabbos afternoon. I would longingly eye the homemade crinkle cookies, cinnamon cake, and delicious rugelach, hoping I would be lucky enough to have a taste.
At a certain point it turned into a battle. I would get my hands on something homemade and delicious and be unable to stop. I would polish off cakes and trays of cookies. And then this mentality spread. It wasn’t only about the baked goods, but about food in general. If it was there, I ate it. All of it. And then came dieting. I don’t have to tell you about the vicious diet cycle. Diet for one week, maybe two, and then boom - I would eat everything in sight. Up, down, up down. Food became a struggle.
Eventually, I discovered intuitive eating. "Wow, you mean I’m allowed to have as much as I want? Really? You mean my stomach will tell me when I’m full??" I felt so liberated. Suddenly, food wasn’t so exciting anymore. If I could have those chips whenever I wanted them, then I can eat them later when I’m hungry. Or when I’m in the mood of munching.
And then I got married, AND I WAS IN CHARGE. It was so exciting and oh-so-terrifying. But as time went on, the more I gave myself permission to enjoy the food around me, the less I felt the need to overeat. I was in a good place. And then my (new!) husband asked me to bake something. Uh Oh. Voices were screaming, “If you make it, you’ll eat the whole thing”. But hubby wanted it, so that was that. And it was true. I made a delicious chocolate babka. And ate more than half. The next week, I made homemade chocolate chip cookies and ate most (all?) of them in one sitting.
A few weeks later something interesting happened. I made the cookies again and guess what? I had a few. But then they weren’t so exciting anymore. And I realized something I had really known all along. When you give yourself permission to enjoy your food, then you can have what you want, when you want it. And you can stop when you are done. Wow!
As all articles end these days, THEN CAME CORONA. I was bored. I heard a hidden voice telling me, "You always wished you had time to try some cool cake decorating and tricky pastry recipes! Now is the perfect time!" But then that old familiar voice got involved. "If I make a three-layer vanilla cake with soft pink icing and delicious edible pink roses on top, I will eat the whole thing! No way! Forget it." But my intuitive voice persisted. "Try it." And I did. It was fun, it was messy, it was crazy, and it looked breathtaking! Oh, and how did it taste? I had a piece. It was good, but then after offering to share with anyone who could partake, I threw the rest out. And I felt blessed. Blessed to have discovered the secret to a healthy relationship with food. Blessed to be able to bake and cook without any guilt. Blessed to be in control of my food and not the other way around. Sorry Ma, I love you, but MY motto is, “If I bake it, I’ll have a good time, enjoy a taste, and move on!”
In my work, I've heard versions of this story time and time again. Permission really does lead to food peace. If you're still on your way, keep at it. You're not alone where you are right now, and there are travelers on the road ahead who would be glad to cheer you on.