DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY BIRTHDAY CAKES I FINISHED OFF IN MY LIFETIME? Let’s see, I raised four children and each had a birthday party (with cake) every year……………so that’s four children times 18 years each (at least). That’s 72 cakes. Let’s add the birthday cakes I’ve had at my own birthday celebrations as an adult…………say 30 (not sure I had a cake for every birthday as an adult). Combined, that’s over 100 birthday cakes that I’ve help finish off. You see if there was cake left, I ate it. I loved the icing. I knew it was made of lard and sugar, but I didn’t care. Sometimes I would eat as many as 5-6 pieces of cake in one day………..eat a piece, wash it down with milk, eat a piece, wash it down with milk, etc. I would feel sick afterwards, but never worried about the “health” of my body. I did worry about gaining weight.
When I was young, I never gave much thought to clogging my arteries with that birthday cake icing or the other junky foods I ate. I spent the majority of my adult life as a yo-yo dieter. Strict on my diet regimen for a few months with the goal of losing weight and then off my diet for a "free-for-all feast" of sweets, fried foods, and any other junk I wanted. Once I saw the scale creeping up, I’d go back to my strict diet regimen. This went on for years.
As I’ve reviewed my journals I’ve kept over the years, I’ve noticed a common thread that has kept me in that “yo-yo dieter spiral” consistently for 40 years. Every time my journal entry said, “I’ve gotten out of control with my eating. I don’t know why I can’t stay on track. I feel like a failure," I noticed that I had allowed myself a special cheat item or cheat meal or cheat day. Once I tasted those fatty, sugar-laden foods, I lost all control. My cheat day became a cheat week or month. Sugar and fat are addictive. At least they are for me. If a little is delicious, more must be even better. I could not stop.
Now that I’m older and a bit wiser, I realize some very important things that I wish I had known 40 years ago:
1) Food is Medicine. You either eat healthy foods or face bad health someday. Look at our Standard American Diet and look at the health of our country. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the connection between food and health. When you get older, do you want to be on 15 different meds? Or do you want to put life-giving foods in your body now so you can prevent poor health later?
2) It’s better for me to stay completely away from sweets and junk food. I can’t handle it. It’s like telling an alcoholic to drink in moderation. If I do eat a “special treat," it will be made from whole foods. For my recent birthday, I baked pumpkin muffins that were sweetened with dates. The muffins satisfied me and I only ate two. These types of food are not addictive.
3) Your taste can change. Fairly quickly too. When I first started eating a whole food plant-based diet, I tried to make creamy salad dressings, because I had always eaten ranch dressing. As I’ve experimented with different recipes, I’ve found some balsamic vinegar dressings that I like. I also like just fresh lemon juice with salt and pepper on my salads. My tastes have changed. This is just one example of many. The biggest change with me is I don’t crave sweets anymore. It’s a miracle.
4) It’s not more expensive to eat whole food plant-based. Have you bought meat lately? Oh my word……….it’s so expensive. I don’t buy much special “vegan” foods. I purchase mostly produce, grains, and beans. I occasionally purchase nuts, tofu, plant milk & creamer and condiments. It’s not expensive. When my family came in for Christmas, we bought meat-based meals for them and that WAS expensive.
I guess life is a journey and I certainly have been on one. I wish I had paid more attention to my health and not been so obsessed with weight loss when I was young. Live and learn I guess. Now I know, so now I will improve myself by making the necessary changes.
How about you? Are you willing to make the necessary changes to improve your health for now and for the years to come? Do you want to break away from the Standard American Diet we have all been addicted to for way too long? You can do it. Educate yourself and get started now.
Check out my Brenda Workman Speaks Facebook & Instagram pages for motivational tips and healthy recipes.