Today marks my twenty-seventh year of life- it’s my birthday! And while I look forward to the moment friends from many different chapters of my life gather in one place to celebrate one particular relationship, I’m taking the time to talk about another relationship–my relationship with food. I have a lot of friends that are currently counting calories and the thought that they might be too preoccupied with counting the calories in the German chocolate cake to enjoy this day, or even their special day, worries me. So, I decided to put the issue front and center and answer the question posed by history’s most famous teen queen–Why can’t they just eat cake?

The answer exists in our relationship with food. However, healthy or unhealthy we may believe it to be we have a relationship with food, and how we tend to that relationship says a lot about who we are. Some of us deny ourselves food painting it as a necessary evil. Some over-indulge, holding fast to the idea of food as an answer to stress and life’s other problems. No healthy relationship can survive within these two schools of thought. Can you imagine if we treated an actual friend in the same way we associate with food? Imagine calling on them in times of need and then implicating them as the reason for our unmet goals and failed intentions. Hazard going through a revolving door of friendships at the same rate we change diet trends; hoping each time that one will serve us better than the last. Most of us are great at cultivating and nurturing healthy relationships with others. So why the conflict with food?

I think it’s important to consider food in the framework of a relationship because it highlights the agency we have in shaping our connection to food. Being too rigid, restrictive or strict about nutritious eating can lead to problems. If you can’t bring yourself to enjoy small pleasures like a slice of cake on a friend’s birthday then your relationship with food borderlines abusive. At what point did we cede control of our lives to the things we eat?

In Short, food is our friend, and when it is not, we are not a good friend to ourselves. So, eat when you’re hungry, eat mindfully, remember everything in moderation, and permit yourself to enjoy eating. Our relationship with food can’t be one that we abuse six weeks at a time. It’s not sustainable. For our healthy eating habits to stick, they have to become an inextricable part of our life. And denying ourselves the little moments that pass between “Happy Birthday” and “Make a wish!” makes our health and fitness journey so much more difficult. Yes, I know it seems a strange occurrence that you can eat and still achieve your fitness and weight loss goals, but this is a situation where you can indeed have your cake and eat it too.

To Your Continued Success,