Yes, you can have your cake and eat it too

26th July, 2016

Eating cake or sweets does not mean you will be fat. When you see a larger person eating cake, you can’t simply assume they are large because of the way they eat. After all, thin people eat cake too.

Just as eating higher fat/sugar food doesn’t mean you’re going to be fat, avoiding these foods and ensuring you only eat “healthy” foods will not guarantee a smaller body.

A common mistake people make is believing if they eat a certain way, they will look a certain way. A person’s body weight is influenced by many things other than food, including:

  • Genetic blueprint for size
  • History of dieting
  • Hormonal changes
  • Metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Medications
  • Age

Of course this is not a free licence to just eat cake or other sugary food. If you eat excess high fat/sugar food at the expense of more nutrient dense food, this could become problematic. But always choosing salad over cake for example, does not guarantee health, weight loss or that you’ll feel better about your body, in fact quite the opposite can happen.

Always trying to avoid certain food in the hope of being thinner can lead to food preoccupation and overeating. This is can be especially true when different food is available such as eating out, a party or other celebration. Some people even avoid going out or socialising to prevent this happening. In both instances, a person’s emotional health suffers and when people feel bad about themselves they are less likely to eat in a way that nourishes their body or to participate in physical activity. Lack of social connection is bigger determinant of poor health than diet.

Always trying to make the “right” food choice can also be problematic. If a “light” salad or soup does not leave you feeling satisfied, chances are you will be left wanting more, even if you’re no longer physically hungry. Many people will end up eating something else, often a less nutritious food, in order to satisfy their physical hunger or natural desire for food.

Let me give you an example… Mary loves a toasted cheese sandwich (and so do I), but our diet culture says bread and cheese are “bad” and “fattening” so she opts for sushi instead. Mary also happens to enjoy sushi, but because she really felt like a toasted cheese sandwich, she’s left feeling unsatisfied after the sushi and she ends up eating a warm donut too. What Mary really wanted was something warm on a cold day and a toasted cheese sandwich would have been the perfect choice.

Both bread and cheese are nutrient rich foods. While there is nothing wrong with donuts per se, in this instance the donut is not as nutritious as the toastie and Mary ends up feeling overfull and terrible about herself for “failing” at “being good”. Because of this, Mary feels unmotivated to exercise or cook dinner for herself that night.

Now imagine Mary wasn’t influenced, like so many of us are, by our culture’s diet mentality. Imagine a toasted cheese sandwich was just that, a toasted cheese sandwich, a food that provided nutrition, energy and left you feeling fully satisfied. Mary would have eaten her lunch and felt satisfied and in a good enough mood to do her workout and cook dinner.

As a culture we need to stop focusing so much on external ideas around food and instead focus more on our internal cues of hunger and fullness and what food truly satisfies us and leaves us feeling good inside both physically and mentally.

Every human has the right to eat and enjoy cake, no matter their size or shape.