When was the last time you consciously and lovingly treated yourself to a cake date?
I did last Friday at lunchtime, like I do every Friday. It's one of my favorite moments of the week: I call it Cake For Lunch Day. I used to refer to it as my "naughty lunch day", but a beautiful reader comment on my facebook page reminded me that no dessert should really be considered naughty. Well, to be completely honest, I don't mind a little naughty in my life--it keeps things interesting. But I can understand how it might be playing into an unhealthy trend to classify dessert as "naughty", so to make it an accessible day for anyone, Cake For Lunch Day it is.
Important note: Friday is not the only day I eat cake or sweets. It's just the official day I have designated for this ritual. I eat something sweet every day!
Cake for lunch is a political act
Frequently, dessert is strongly associated with guilt. All too often, the presentation of a beautiful cake or pie is greeted with a chorus of responses:
"I couldn't", "I shouldn't", "I wouldn't want to spoil my diet!"
So when do we deserve cake? When we reach our "goal" weight? When it's our birthday? When we get the new job?
Why do we have to wait for "someday"? While it's true that we shouldn't be eating cake all day every day, there is a part of these responses that smacks of sad exclusion: I can't eat cake because I don't deserve it.
Having suffered from a potpourri of eating disorders in the past, I used to be scared of cake. I still am, sometimes. But this fantastic ritual has given me something sweet that I would like to share. It is a pleasure to eat cake for lunch. But it is also a statement: I deserve pleasure.
The unofficial rules of Cake For Lunch Day
On Friday morning, I eat breakfast as usual. Whatevs. Then I go about my duties for the day.
And then when it's lunch time, I go out on a spying mission for cake. It can be any type of cake I feel like; the only real "rule" is that it has to be made by someone else. Not because I can't bake, but because it's a real treat of a whole different level when someone else makes it. I generally like it to be a nice, fat slice of cake.
I then come home with my cake, pour a glass of milk, and eat it for lunch. Sometimes I will eat the whole slice, sometimes half and then eat the rest after dinner. Sometmes I will eat 3/4 of it, take a short break, then finish it off with another mini-glass of milk. Usually, I will accompany my cake for lunch with either a beach-type novel or a fresh issue of In Touch Weekly. Is it still a guilty pleasure if I am proudly announcing it?
The positive effects of Cake For Lunch
Some people might be tempted to start in with the naysaying, with statements like "eating cake for lunch isn't healthy!" or "you should really watch carbs during midday" or "is the cake at least gluten-free?". Probably, I am making some nutritionist somewhere scrunch up their nose. Heck, even my formerly anorexic-leaning self wants to start calculating how many calories were in that slice of cake and how little I can eat for the next week to "make up for it".
But I resist all of these voices. Because here's the thing: when the cake is gone, I always have a feeling of supreme happiness. Look at this wonderful thing I just did for myself! Even though the cake is eaten in less than 20 minutes, the experience has ripple effects of happiness that last all day long. These happy ripples make the following happen:
- I am nicer to people and even to my pug.
- I don't feel like it's a hassle to hold a door open for someone or let someone into my lane of traffic.
- I feel calmer, which makes me feel better if I encounter a long line at the post office or see someone pull out a checkbook in the grocery store line.
- I have just enough of a sugar high that makes me want to turn the radio up and do a little dance.
You can't tell me that these things don't contribute to making the world just a little nicer.
The best thing about Cake For Lunch Day (aside from the cake)
The best part of Cake For Lunch Day isn't the cake itself. It is the fact that I took the time and energy to be sweet to myself. To give myself something that is in the scheme of things unnecessary, and a thing that sometimes society can deem downright devilish.
But I am not anorexic or bulimic anymore. I don't have to just dream about cake, or deprive myself then binge on it in such a dissociated way that I don't even stop to taste or enjoy.
Breaking free of an eating disorder means that I am free to treat myself to, eat, and enjoy cake. On the one hand that might seem a a gift I've always had the ability to give myself...but now, I'm willing to receive and enjoy it. Maybe you could, too.
Make your own Cake For Lunch Day
I urge you to make room for a dessert date in your life. If you want, it can be Cake For Lunch Day on Friday, just like me--it's a day good enough to share, and I like the thought of virtually being a lady who lunches with you.
It doesn't have to be a slice of cake--it can be a brownie, or a cookie sandwich, or even a slice of pie. What it does have to be, however, is something that gives you pleasure.
So go ahead, I dare you--no, I invite you--make a date with yourself to enjoy cake. Because we all deserve to enjoy something sweet.