Saturday, July 20, 2013

Temptations and Options

Friday was my mom's birthday.  It's kind of a given in my family that I'll make the cake for everyone's birthday, because I have a lot of fun decorating cakes.  And I'm pretty good at it, too.  I also like to show off.

For me, cake making day is a bad day.  Believe it or not, but making one of those cakes takes me several hours, and it ends up being an all day project.  In the process of baking, cutting, and frosting the cake, I end up eating what comes out to maybe two pieces of cake.  You have to slice the tops off the cakes to make them flat, and of course I can't just throw that away.  And you have to taste the frosting several times as you make it to make sure it's the right consistency.  Plus, licking it off is the best way to deal with it when you get some frosting on yourself.

And then of course I have to eat a piece of cake at the birthday party.   By then, I'm thoroughly disgusted with cake.

So when my mom's birthday came around again this year, I knew I needed to do something different.   Thankfully the weather was too hot to permit me to make an extravagant cake for her, which means I didn't have to eat extra cake bits or taste the frosting.  Still, I knew that by the end of the day, if I didn't do something clever, I'd be eating one of these.

Well, Chad and I had just bought a big bag of raw almonds, and I knew that Dr. Davis' Wheatbelly Cookbook had a recipe for vanilla cupcakes in it that uses almond flour.  Maybe if I made something that was decadent but low carb, I wouldn't feel the urge to eat any of mom's cupcakes.

Since I knew everyone else would also be eating ice cream, I brought along a carton of this for the two of us.

And the plan worked really well!  I resisted eating any cupcakes as I was baking them, only tasted the sugary frosting a little bit to see what it was like (I used the canned stuff; it wasn't very good, but then I'm so used to homemade buttercream), and when Chad and I went over to mom's birthday party, neither of us ate a single bad cupcake or any sugary ice cream.  I was very proud of us.

Now I'll say that Dr. Davis' vanilla cupcakes aren't going to go on my list of favorite low carb recipes.  They're really dense and doughy, have a strong taste of baking soda, and aren't quite sweet enough for my liking, but they helped me through in my time of need and they do have some potential.  I think I could easily get the recipe to be perfect if I tweak it a little bit.  Less baking soda, more eggs, maybe a little extra stevia. 

Low carb treats aren't something we eat very often, and I don't want it to become a habit for us.  But I do believe that there is a place for them, and I think that they can be used as a tool to help us stay on the right path.  There's always going to be celebrations, birthdays, get togethers, holidays, and you'll have the choice in front of you to eat sugar and carbs, or to do something different.  I don't think it's so terrible to eat those bad things once in a while; it's when you make it a habit that it becomes damaging.  But I also don't think you should indulge in something that's harmful every time there's a celebration. 

Now, I could have taken some fruit with me, and maybe some whipped cream.  That would have been nice and healthy, and I could smile smugly because I was eating something natural while everyone else was eating junk food.  But being a health snob isn't my thing, and it certainly doesn't ease my cravings for cupcakes when they're three feet away from me.  It really helped having something similar as everyone else, so I wouldn't feel like I was being deprived.

I know there would be people out there who would bash me for eating OMG fake food!  Or GASP processed food!  Or EEK artificial sweeteners!  But I'm proud of myself for thinking out the situation and creating a plan to keep me on track.  Had I not done that, I probably would have eaten 3 cupcakes even before the party started.  And isn't that more important?


Ok, time out.

I feel like I'm spending too much time defending myself from imaginary attackers.  Maybe I'm overly sensitive, or maybe I know that people can be overly critical on the internet.  But that's not the point of my blog.  I started this blog as a way to express my opinions, explore life's lessons, and maybe inspire other people to better themselves.  I can't do that if I'm preemptively defending myself.

I want to really make a point here, because I think I learned a valuable lesson.  The lesson I learned was that, in every situation, you have options in front of you.  You can choose to go down the path of least resistance and eat the cupcake, or you can make the extra effort and make your own healthy cupcake.

It does take effort.  I planned for several days for my mom's birthday, and I ended up baking for two days.  I believe it's worth it, though.

I'm tempted to go back and completely edit my post so that it's more coherent and more to the original point I was trying to make, but I want my thought process to be visible for everyone to see.  There is an undercurrent of disapproval in our low carb/paleo/primal communities for people who are too weak to give up sweets/sweeteners/fake food.  I don't disagree that we should be trying to get away from those things; sweets shouldn't be a staple in anyone's diet.  Where I disagree is when people treat others badly because they chose to use those foods as a tool on their journey to health.  No one has a right to bully someone for the choices they make when it comes to their own well being; nobody knows what's right for anyone except themselves. 

There, now I've gotten it out of my system.  Hopefully next time I can stay more on track!


  1. Heh, I also love decorating cakes. It can be a pain, but it's an interesting medium to work with.

    I'm of the opinion that it's fine to splurge once in awhile, so if it were me, I would have just made a cake. BUT I'm also not in a position where I'm tempted very often--sometimes a co-worker will bring some kind of desert or other sugary treat, but it doesn't happen that often. I also don't have a bad reaction to sugar other than weight gain, so I'm lucky in those respects.

    But I have to commend you for having that will power not to--I don't =P

  2. @Dena: I totally agree with you. I think it's ok to splurge sometimes. My problem is that I have opportunities to splurge like several times a week, and I certainly don't want to go down that road.