As a baker and baking blogger, the question I get asked the most isn’t even about baking. It’s not about how to get a flaky pie crust or bake the perfect chocolate chip cookie. The question I get asked the most is, “How do you not weigh 300 lbs?”
My first impulse is to say, “Look at me. It’s not as if I’m what you’d call skinny.” But, I get what they’re asking. I’m short and chunky but not as large as what you might expect from someone who bakes things like caramel cake and chocolate eclairs every week.
I also appear comfortable in my own skin – because I am comfortable in my own skin. Well, mostly. I’ve never met anyone who feels 100% confident about their body all the time, and to be honest, I probably wouldn’t be friends with them anyway.
But, yes. For the most part, I’ve accepted who I am and how I look in this moment even while constantly trying to improve it. Which, as far as I can tell, is the best we can ever do.
But let’s be real.
Feeling good in your own skin is hard and dieting sucks.
Most days, I really want to eat a chocolate chip cookie and I want you to have one too. And THAT is why I want to introduce you to my friend Cynthia, a combo nutrition professional, eating psychology practitioner & empowerment coach. Most importantly…
Cynthia is a nutritionist who doesn’t believe in dieting.
She’s a skinny little thing with whom I have enjoyed many delicious meals during which she actually eats and has never once said, “I’m on a diet.” This is why we’re friends. (Well, that and the fact that she’s intelligent, interesting, fun and kind. But the no dieting thing is kind of a big deal.) She’s also created an online program focused on how to end any and all struggles with food, weight and health. And remember…
She doesn’t believe in dieting.
This means that the program is not another cookie-cutter-miracle-weight-loss-plan promising ridiculous outcomes based on very loose “scientific” claims on which you will spend half your life totally obsessing about what you can and can’t put in your mouth until you finally say, “f*ck it” and scarf down an entire gallon of Rocky Road.
Don’t tell me you haven’t been there.
Last week, I had an enlightening conversation with Cynthia about her program that I wanted to share with you, dear baker. In it, Cynthia explains why she rejects the idea that there are “good” foods and “bad” foods. (Hallelujah and pass the Birthday cake!) Instead, she thinks we all just need to learn how to listen to our body and be our own health advocate.
Right on. No one else is going to do it for me, I suppose.
But, you know me. I love to give you options!
Option #1: Keep reading. I’ve summarized my conversation with Cynthia below and it’s really, really good, full of “Ah-ha!” moments. You should read it.
Option #2: This IS a food blog, and so I also asked Cynthia what her current favorite sweet treat is, to which she responded: Chocolate Avocado Pudding with Coconut and Bananas. Ummm, yum. So, I whipped up a batch and have shared that recipe with you here.
Option #3: For those of you who just want to find out more about Cynthia’s online program, go for it! And just because you’re my reader and I love you, Cynthia loves you too and is giving you coupon for $50 off. That $50 coupon code is: BATTERANDDOUGH50.
Cynthia and Rebecca Talk About How Dieting Sucks and Why You Should Never Do It Again.
Rebecca: Ok. So, I know you don’t believe in dieting, and I love you for that, but tell me why. What is your basic philosophy about food and weight and health?
Cynthia: Sure! I believe that every food has its place and that our primary job is to know what our relationship is to it. THAT is our ticket to health and happiness, not the latest diet. None of us lives in a jungle where we spend our days scavenging for whatever food we can find. We are surrounded by food. Food of every kind is everywhere all the time. We have so many choices! This is the reality of our culture and until we recognize, accept and stop fearing that reality, we will remain at war with it.
Rebecca: At war with food? That sounds so dramatic…
Cynthia: At war with food and at war with our own bodies. And, it IS dramatic in the sense that it interferes with our health and happiness and causes us a lot of unnecessary pain. It’s also the absolute truth of how many of us are living. We are locked in this constant battle between what we want to eat and what we think we should eat. We’ve applied labels to every kind of food – it’s either “good” or “bad”. And just like a little kid who’s been told “no”, it’s the things we believe to be off-limits that we want the most.
And so, we lock ourselves into this cycle of restriction, where we force ourselves to only eat the “good” foods, whether we want to or not, and deprive ourselves of the “bad” foods. Until the inevitable happens, of course. We show up to the birthday party determined not to eat the cake and then we eat the cake. And, hey, because we’ve already fallen off the wagon, we’re going to fall big. We also eat the ice cream, and the French fries, and a second piece of cake. Then we feel bad. We feel ashamed.
Instead of leaving the party feeling great, we leave the party feeling beaten. We’ve taken what’s meant to be an enjoyable experience and turned it into a battleground on which we’ve been defeated. No one should ever feel defeated by cake! But we do.
And so, we restrict ourselves even more the next day – we punish ourselves! OR – we get into total defeatist mode, just give up and stop caring about what we put into our mouths entirely. Either way, we build up all this resentment – resentment towards our own bodies and its cravings, and resentment towards food. Especially the foods we crave the most. This is NOT a healthy relationship to food. It’s completely destructive, actually.
Rebecca: I totally see what you mean. Often, when I offer something delicious I’ve baked to others it’s met with a groan. They eye the food like it’s a torture device they just can’t resist! It’s crazy! I want to tell them, “Hey, it’s ok. This is meant to brighten your day not destroy your life!”
Cynthia: Exactly. I love food! Who doesn’t love food? Food is life! It’s not only essential to our health and well-being, but a tremendous source of pleasure and enjoyment. But, we treat it as if it’s the enemy. The problem is not the food! The problem is our relationship with the food.
This is why diets are not sustainable. A “diet” is a highly structured and often restrictive way of eating that is very far from your normal way of eating and often far from the tastes and textures your taste buds are used to. In addition, it always includes a way of organizing foods into “good” and “bad” categories. It’s a way of making us feel in control. Except, the idea that we can ever be completely in control of this “diet” (or the normal ways we eat) all the time is totally false.
We might be able to stick to only eating foods off the “good” list for a while, but not indefinitely. Life gets in the way. We oversleep and don’t have time to pack our “good foods only” lunch. We get invited to a dinner party where half the menu is on our “bad” foods list. There’s little to no flexibility in diets. We are forced into a relationship with food where we may feel in control, but in reality, the diet is controlling us. It’s just not sustainable. It’s why 96% – 98% of people who lose weight on a diet gain it back, often with even more, within 2 years.
Also, diets perpetuate a fear of food. And fear is a destructive force in any relationship.
Rebecca: Most of us know that diets don’t work. And yet, we just keep going on them…
Cynthia: Yes. The problem is that no one’s taught us a better way of thinking. No one’s taught us how to have a healthy relationship with food. No one is even talking about our relationship with food at all!
Rebecca: So tell me what a healthy relationship with food looks like.
Cynthia: Absolutely! First of all, there’s no such thing as “good” and “bad” food. We need to get that idea out of our heads. Food, in and of itself, is neutral. When we stop labeling everything we put in our mouths as good and bad we make it possible to have a healthy, struggle-free and dare I say – joyful – relationship with food. If all food is neutral, there’s no need to fear it! If nothing is off limits, there’s nothing to obsess about!
Instead of being controlled by what some diet says we can and can’t eat, we are free to get in tune with our own bodies and feed it what it really wants. Some days you’re going to put sugar in your mouth. Other days, broccoli. The point is that it’s your choice! Food is not the enemy and you are not at its mercy.
Rebecca: I can see where that might not only impact what we eat, but also how much we eat…
Cynthia: One of the amazing things that starts happening when people start thinking this way and change their relationship with food, is that they stop overeating. So much of the time, it’s not food that causes us to gain weight, it’s the amount of food we eat.
We are biologically programed to want glucose. Most of us are always going to crave sugar from time to time. When we accept this as a positive part of our own biological nature and learn to tune in to the craving, instead of squashing it down and trying to ignore it, we are much more likely to also notice when 2 or 3 bites of something is enough to satisfy that craving. And, because no food is off-limits, and we know we can have more any time we want, we’re not tempted to eat as much of it as possible before re-committing ourselves to never eating that again.
Rebecca: This makes total sense to me, but the fact is, some foods are better for us than others. Don’t we need some rules around what we put in our mouths?
Cynthia: The only rules are the ones you create for yourself as you choose to support your own health and happiness. And, I wouldn’t even call them rules… they’re not rules. They are choices.
It’s true that some foods are more health sustaining than others, but which foods these are is largely personal. Always start with what you want instead of what you’re supposed to have. On any given day, I’m going to choose different foods based on what I feel my body needs. Think of it as therapeutic nutrition. It’s not about fear and restriction. And, it’s not about following the latest diet trend or weight loss guru. It’s about giving yourself what you need. And, this is different for each of us.
Rebecca: Years ago, I was determined to get “skinny”. I don’t know why… I’ve never been skinny a day in my life, not as a kid or adult! But, still, I thought I would try. I got down to about 120 lbs., which for me, was pretty freaking thin. But, to do it, I was running 35 miles a week, spending about 4 hours a week weight training and eating just over 1000 calories a day. I was hungry all the time and mostly miserable.
One day, my husband asked me why I was putting myself through that. He said, “I was initially attracted to you and fell in love with you when you weighed more than this. I always liked the extra weight. So, who are you doing this for? Because you’re not doing this for me.” It was a big “ah-ha” moment for me… because why was I making myself so miserable? What was the point? I realized that I needed to stop trying to make my body into something it didn’t want to be and instead, try and find the place that felt “normal” and healthy.
So, how does body type play into this way of thinking about food? Or does it?
Cynthia: That is such a great story! Because, yes – when it comes to weight, all of us have a “happy range”. It’s the range in which we feel the best. When we go below or above that range, we just don’t feel right. It’s not pleasant to try and be something you’re not! The pursuit of trying to shape ourselves into something we were never meant to be is painful.
That is not what the End Your Food War program is about. This program is about embracing your body and embracing food as the life-sustaining, health-sustaining force that it is. It’s about trusting yourself to redefine your relationship with food and your body in a way that maximizes your health and happiness.
Rebecca: Sounds great to me! Let’s talk a bit about the End Your Food War program. What is the most important thing you want readers to know about the program?
Cynthia: First of all, it’s not a nutritional program. I might be a certified nutritionist, but I’m not going to tell you what to eat and what not to eat. Having said that, the program is absolutely designed to help you lose weight. People who go through the program lose weight!
But, they do so because they start focusing on their behaviors around food. They learn to change the way they are thinking ABOUT food and themselves. They learn to take the focus off “the food” (the nutritionals of the food) as the problem itself and instead focus on how, when and why they consume it, as the eater! This results in actual permanent weight loss – something that’s virtually unheard of in the diet world.
Rebecca: When people are able to change their thinking about food and redefine their relationship with food into something that is health-sustaining, as you say, what does that look like?
Cynthia: FREEDOM! All those years of being frustrated with yourself and hating your body are over. Permanently! Instead, they enter a relationship with food that’s easy. Instead of constantly obsessing over food, they are free to simply live their life! They learn how to truly enjoy food, become extremely comfortable in their own skin and achieve the weight that’s right for them.
Rebecca: It’s an amazing program, Cynthia. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me about it.
Get $50 off Cynthia’s program just because you’re an Of Batter and Dough Reader.
Just enter this coupon code at checkout: BATTERANDDOUGH50
Visit the End Your Food War website for more information about Cynthia’s program and to register. The program consists of 28 video and audio lessons, live coaching, and the support of an amazing online community. Each lesson comes with an action guide, and everything is downloadable and yours for life!
I sincerely hope you check this program out. It’s a game changer, for sure. You’ll lose weight, get healthier AND still come back here from time when you want to bake up something delicious and eat it guilt free!
Here’s that information again:
For more information and to register, visit: https://www.cynthiastadd.com/endyourfoodwar
Enter coupon code BATTERANDDOUGH50 for a $50 discount.