How do you determine your self worth? Is it by how much money you make, where you live, who you live with? Is it your accomplishments, your family, your level of fame? Or is it tied to your weight?
Do you determine your self worth by a number on a scale, or the tally of calories you've eaten that day?
Listen, I feel you. I spent 15 years in a self-created hole that didn't let much light in, otherwise known as the world of disordered eating. At different times, my behavior included but was not limited to obsessive calorie counting, bingeing, purging, and extreme restriction.
I know how it can be when you feel fat or like you "ate too much". You can't concentrate. You can't do work. You can't have a conversation--all you can do is think about how you messed up. Maybe you think about how you need to make it up tomorrow by exercising or fasting. Whatever you're thinking though, I can assure you: IT IS A WASTE OF TIME.
In spite of the saying "you are what you eat", there's actually a whole lot more to you than what you decide to put (or not put) in your mouth.
To help motivate you to embrace love, life, and your interesting inner self, I've come up with this list of 10 reasons why you shouldn't worry about the calories in dessert. Read it! Print it out and tape it to your fridge! And remember...you deserve it!
10 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Worry about the Calories in Dessert
In no particular order.
1. Being thin doesn't feel as good as dessert tastes.
Not so long ago, there was a study that showed that restricting calories could extend your life. But really, not by much. My response to this was, sure, you'll live longer, but why? Why would you want to live a longer life in a world without dessert and fun?
It's a simple fact. Dessert tastes good, and eating it feels good. Does depriving yourself in the name of possible thinness sound quite as fun as eating a slice of cake? If you avoid dessert to be thin, you're cutting a lot of joy out of your life. Seems to me like it will be more joyful (not to mention you'll be a nicer person) if you just eat the freakin' cupcake.
2. Cake is healthy for the soul.
I'm not going to tell you that because old fashioned doughnuts have sour cream that they have protein and are therefore healthy. Dessert is not the most nutritionally sound foodstuff. But what it does in terms of nourishing the soul far outweighs any detrimental health aspects. If you treat yourself to a dessert that you allow yourself to enjoy, you've basically given yourself the equivalent of a beautiful, big hug. The problem comes in when we zone out while eating that dessert. The idea is not to become numb: it's to be very present and loving with yourself.
3. You don't need dessert to live.
It's true: although I'm not a doctor, I'm pretty confident when I say that I'm pretty sure you don't need dessert to live. Likewise, you also don't need manicures, massages, vacations, or cocktails served in coconut shells by the beach. But isn't life so much better because of these things?
Dessert may not be necessary for life, but it makes it much more fun to be living.
4. Counting calories is boring.
When I would wail to my friends, significant other, mother that I had "eaten too much" because I had a slice of cake or a brownie, I would notice their eyes glaze over in a sort of half-listening way. Even if they cared deeply and were concerned about me, it would still happen. You know why? Because calorie fixation is boring. I promise, it really is not an interesting subject matter to bring up to your friends how you are restricting, how you feel fat, or how you're really really nervous that your waistline just sprouted an extra millimeter.
Do you want to be boring? Didn't think so. Quit wasting your time worrying about calories and talk about something fun while you're enjoying dessert with someone you love.
5. Dessert doesn't taste as good when you're worrying
Consider a child's complete joyful abandon when they attack a slice of birthday cake. Or a cookie. Or just about anything sweet, come to think of it. Do you think, in that moment, the calories or fat content of dessert are even a whisper in their mind? No: they are so totally in tune with this dessert experience that it is an absolute joy.
Worrying takes away from the enjoyment of any experience. Why would you want to reduce the deliciousness of your brownie with all that needless worry when you could be having the taste experience, and time, of your life,
6. Eating dessert will keep you from overeating. Really.
Does this sound familiar? You want a cookie, but think "Oh, I shouldn't, it's not healthy." So you eat an apple. Then you eat a spoonful of peanut butter. You're still not satisfied, though, so you eat a small piece of chocolate. Just one. But then somehow that leads to eating half your office candy bowl. No way is this a good thing. If you'd just had the damn cookie, you wouldn't be in this situation...so go ahead and give yourself a treat every now and again, ok? You deserve a treat--but you don't deserve to be subjected to mental torture.
7. Dessert is the stuff of sweet memories.
You have probably heard the Erma Bombeck quote, "Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart."
Well, this quote has a good point. Life is short, and dessert is the stuff of good memories. If you were to be in some crazy accident tomorrow, would you look back thankfully that you were so thin? Or would you lovingly remember that awesome cake you had on your last birthday, and wish you could have just one more bite? By giving yourself the gift of dessert, you are giving yourself rich, full, and sweet memories.
8. Dessert is a way to connect
When I was in the depths of disordered eating, I wouldn't go anywhere near a cheesecake. As a result, if a group of friends were living it up with plates full of cheesecake, I would try to get away from the premises--better yet, skip the occasion entirely. How much did I miss because I was fearful of delight? Because you see, I wasn't just missing the cheesecake, I was missing everything that went with it: the joking, the conversation, the "how did you make this?" conversations that form the fabric of friendships and relationships. Dessert can help forge these relationships...if you let it.
9. Dessert is not a forbidden foodstuff
Many desserts are described as "sinful", "naughty", "indulgent", "devilish". I will confess, I'm guilty of using these descriptors. It's not the words that are so bad--I think they can be kind of playful and fun. What's not fun, though, is when we believe the hype: that dessert is truly the devil. I recently heard someone refer to sugar as "white crack", and my instant response was to want to smack that person.
When something is seen as forbidden and we "give in", it's something shameful. No wonder we abuse food or eat pints of ice cream alone for no good reason! When you realize that dessert is not forbidden, you'll realize that there's no need to use it like a substance you're abusing. Just think about how much joy that could let in your life.
10. It's a massive waste of time.
I already told you that obsessing about eating (or not eating) dessert is boring. But did I mention it's also a complete, utter, and massive waste of time?
When I decided to stop having an eating disorder, I was amazed at how much time opened up in my life that had previously been dedicated to all sorts of unhealthy food behaviors and thoughts. At first, it was daunting. But as more time went on, I learned to fill that space with better and far more interesting things: doing illustrations, writing books, creating recipes, going on walks, learning yoga. My advice is this: quit wasting your time on calorie-counting and start doing something that could make the world better. It might be hard at first, but I promise, it gets easier.