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Have Your Cake

Coaching clients often approach me with obstacles related to special occasions and their associated foods. There’s the whole issue of traditional holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentine’s Day, of course. But one that comes up on a year-round basis is birthday cake.

The trouble with birthday cake is that it already knows your name. There it is, elegantly scrolled across the top, most likely in your favorite flavor and color combination, and lit up like a theatre marquee. You are the star. How could you possibly make a wish and walk away? And why should you?

Since I’m not in the business of “should,” I encourage coachees to explore could instead. A recent client came up with the following options. I could:

a)       Refuse to go near the cake and feel deprived;

b)       Starve myself all day to allow for as much cake as I like and feel stuffed;

c)       Devour large chunks of cake as fast as possible (get it all over with) and resign myself to live with guilt and regret;

d)        Eat a slice of cake and risk feeling guilty anyway; or

e)       Grant myself permission to enjoy a slice of cake and feel satisfied.

Unlike those tricky multiple choice tests in school, in the coaching process, there is no right or wrong answer. It’s up to you to choose a path of action. My client ultimately chose “e,” adding that she would send the leftovers home with her guests to avoid temptation later.

I must admit that I am a huge fan of birthday cake, and particularly the icing roses—those glorious blobs of dressed up sugar and fat, so artfully disguised as love. You see it’s not really about the cake or the frosting. It’s about a feeling. While birthday cake doesn’t fall into the category of good nutrition, life is short, and my once-a-year frosting fest doesn’t affect my health or weight one way or another. I choose to enjoy it.

Should you have cake? It’s up to you. Let the choice be a source of freedom and empowerment.

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