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The Cake Pusher

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

There is a very special place reserved in each of my days for sweets and desserts. I love them and I refuse to cut them out of my diet. They are treasured indulgences that I earn. I take a savage pride to be able to both fit sweets into my diet and to maintain my weight. They give me comfort and wellbeing when other areas of my life are difficult. I feel clever over the tricks and corners I can shave so I can indulge in the treats but for fewer calories per serving. I feel justified to include sweets when I abstain, willingly or not, from so many other food choices that others take for granted.

To be safe I allow desserts only as they fit into a very controlled set of parameters. In order to have them in each day I cut out nearly all liquid calories from the day except in the instances where my liquid calories are my sweets. I make my desserts from scratch and avoid all store-bought sweets in order to be able to account for the serving amounts and calories. I eat these treats only during my allowed meal times.

I take pride in the areas where I am able to be clever about it, such as when I cut recipes down to only a few servings. In doing so, each temptation is only present for a limited amount of meals. For many desserts this is very easy to accomplish. Crisps, cobblers, pancakes, waffles, bread puddings, muffins, parfaits, baked doughnuts, and more all lend themselves well to cutting down the recipes down to a few or even a single serving. Then there are the sweets like ice cream, bars, brownies, cookies, etc, which are in large quantities but freeze great in limited space. Even pies and tarts are good to reduce and/or freeze.

But for all of these delicious desserts there's one that is a struggle. Cakes. Fancy and delicious iced, frosted, and/or decorated cakes. They could be reduced down in size, yes, but when there are many components it can be tedious and bothersome. And frankly, cakes just don't have the same impact when they are reduced.

Lately I've been craving cake. Not just any cake; plain cakes actually bore me. I want extraordinary cakes. Cakes from books like Baked: New Frontiers in Baking and the others by the owners of BakedNYC. Or Martha's beautiful Baking Handbook, and even the lovely selections from the publications through Oxmoor House like Cooking Light, Sunset, and Southern Living. I want to make the best, most beautiful cakes out there in all varieties and flavors.

Cupcakes don't count; I'm not a fan.

I desperately want to make cakes and cakes can fit into any diet in a reasonable fashion, but for any cake worth it's taste it is by nature a high-calorie many-serving dessert. If I were feeding a family, no problem. With just me that's not so good or easy.

To reduce one cake serving down to a reasonable 200-300 calories is to increase the number of servings (about 16 or so). But in doing so, the cake itself remains on the counter for days longer than many other treats would be around (even when I fit four slices into each day, breakfast, mid-morning, mid-afternoon, and evening). The two biggest issues for this are 1) the temptation grows bigger the longer it is around from both a want for the item and a desire just to be rid of it, and 2) cake just doesn't taste as good when it's been sitting around.

The easiest option is to throw it away, sure, yet this is almost always pathologically impossible for me as both a food addict and a frugal spender of money, time, and energy.

Another potential solution is to freeze the cake but I never have enough room in my tiny freezer and fully decorated cakes don't freeze well.

I alway feel like because I make sacrifices to avoid the other liquid calories and pre-made treats people take for granted, because I work out for them and plan for them in my day, because I resist overindulging, and because I put in the effort to make them, I deserve to have these treats. I pay for each dessert I eat with the money, time, effort I put into it and all other areas of my life.

There is another solution: to share the cake. That way I can both make and enjoy the cake and not suffer a large quantity of servings remaining in my presence through an extended amount of time.

To this end I had the perfect solution all figured out. Among my friends there is a series of birthdays taking place throughout the next few months. For each birthday and special event I could make a cake.

This is also a selfish plan, as revealed last night.

Last night at a movie party with friends I prepared and brought a cake. With 16 servings, each slice of iced Clementine-Date Cake with a Candied Tangerine Slice topping was a reasonable 200 calories. I reserved some of the pieces for my evening and for today's snacks with the rest to distribute.

Yet during the affair the other attendees both brought their own dessert contributions either made or store-bought, and everyone also partook of delivery pizza for dinner (I had eaten dinner beforehand). Through the evening I watched them mostly consume pizza, liquor, and the other desserts by their own choice. With each passing hour, I got a little more disappointed and mad and frustrated. At the end of the evening, I was offering my cake for a breakfast option. Actually I wasn't offering, I was desperately pushing it.

Somewhere along the line I became the cake pusher.

It started out as a reasonable plan. I could be able to both partake of cake and in the act of sharing it would not linger in excess at my home. Considering the company I expected all eleven slices of the cake I brought to be gone. Yet I did not account for the reality that I could not control what people would bring to share as well as what they would choose.

After I begged my friends did take cake but I brought home more slices than I thought I would be. I also carried with the hard realization that I had become something we all dread.

It is also painfully clear how much more complicated my relationship with food is than everyone else. They don't see all of this going on. They make it look so easy, eating whatever they choose however much they want whenever they want. With me it is something I must obsess, plan, agonize, fight, and cry over. I can't go to the store and buy candy much less sweets without tempting a binge. I can't go to a restaurant and expect to order a dessert because the sizes are just too large for me to eat alone. They are just doing what comes naturally for them, eating within their means, when I am always working for control and balance. This is no fault of their own by any means, yet I can't help but feel isolated and excluded by their lack of awareness.

There should be an optimal solution. It seems so simple; I just want to have cake. I might try sending photos of any cake I end up making with the invitation that it is available for a limited time as they choose. But I see now that bringing a cake without direct confirmation, no matter how good my intentions both to my health and as a contribution to a soiree, is not acceptable.

I don't want to be the cake pusher. I just want cake.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    A pleasure to read. I get it. My luck with the baking is that I have a family of 5 and my parent's live next door...then I bring anything else to work.
    I hope you find a way to bake your cake & eat it too.
    1866 days ago
    I know the desperation you felt when you realized you might be stuck with all that cake in the house. I've been pushing food off on my family for years. I have immense feelings of shame and guilt when I do it to my kids and yet that never stops me from making the stuff. I am confident that my children equate all my home cooking and baking with love, and that is a very hard thing for me to face.
    I love to cook. I have actually blocked all the food and cooking channels on my tv because they just fuel the fire. I've donated years of magazines and cookbooks...all my food porn. For me it truly is an obsession, addiction, sickness, whatever.
    1875 days ago
    If I remember correctly from your previous blogs, don't you work from home?

    One solution of thought of was to place your cake in the break room at work. It would be gone by noon, but if you work from home, that won't do.

    When I have something that I need to rid of quick, but I don't have the heart to throw it away nor the motivation to take it somewhere, this is what I do...

    I place that item in the "Free" section of Craig's list.

    No matter what it is... (empty photo albums, baby diapers that are too small for my daughter, even some sexy panties I got for my bridal shower that still had tags but I never wore).... that item was usually picked up from someone within the hour simply because it was free.

    This is my fail proof way of decluttering my life when there is too much stuff. It is the easiest/lowest effort way to donate things because all I have to do is post it and then place it on the curb for someone to pick up.

    Perhaps you could give away the rest of your cake as soon as you slice it.

    1875 days ago
  • ROCKMAN6797
    I understand your plight...I, too, want my cake.
    Your plan sounded excellent on paper but unfortunately all of the parts did not cooperate. I sure hope a future endeavor goes much better because you definitely deserve your cake!

    1876 days ago
  • JROZ87
    HAHA! so very cute! I have the exact same issues! I really love making cookies...but if they sit on my counter i eat a lot more than i would normally. My sister makes cupcakes out of her home and always has lots of leftovers which leaves her with the same problem. She started posting photos of her cupcakes on Facebook with a caption "free cupcakes...come and get them". There's always someone who wants them and she never has to have them in her house :)
    This will make you a cake "gifter" instead of "pusher"


    1877 days ago
    What a dilemma! It sounds like you really know what you're talking about when it comes to cake and that you can bake a fantastic one. You could satisfy your creative and dining urges and get good karma by offering pre-sliced portions of deliciousness to a soup kitchen on a regular basis. There are people in this world who literally can't get enough fat and carbohydrates and would appreciate them in a form other than pasta and Velveeta. :)
    1878 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/27/2013 12:35:11 AM
  • ELLIE381
    Another great blog! I am sure we have all gone to a party like this. If you went back to someone's house could you just leave what you didn't want. I feel the same way. I want to make something for a quilt group I belong to. I cannot eat dairy so would make something everyone but I could eat. Everyone there bakes etc so much better than I do. I don't want the whole plate to come home with me. It is about time I made something to take but I am feeling a little intimidated. I can see myself as being that cake pusher also. LOL emoticon
    1879 days ago
  • KANOE10
    You are right..with food addiction we are looking for control and balance. I think you will be more successful in maintenance when you do indulge yourself and do not feel deprived. That is what you are trying to do. Good luck figuring out the cake issue.

    This food is a complicated issue. I have trouble with food pushers. Yet I have taken extra sweets to work to get rid of them.

    You will figure out a way to deal with the cake..By the way I also love frosted cake.


    1881 days ago
    I feel your pain! I have been craving Chinese food, not just any but there is a restaurant in my area that serves hands down the best Chinese food. I have been almost to the point of locking my door from the outside to avoid going for even a small take-out order.
    1881 days ago
    Seriously, you are in my head.

    I'd like to add at the end of that blog that I don't want it to go to waste as it is a good cake/insert dessert here, so I will feel guilty to toss it and more apt to take it home. Ugg. But I guess you did mention that in your blog.

    If you can think of a solution, besides planning on sharing a most delicious piece from a restaurant where you can never be too sure of the calories, let me know. Really.

    1881 days ago
    I admire your ability to handle sweets within a healthy eating plan. I don't really get why a cupcake won't due. Could you bake a cake to give to neighbors, friends, or family, and make one cupcake from it for you! Of course, you could give away a cake with a slice missing if you need a cake slice shape! And can't you freeze cake in slices? Seems like you could get that to fit in your freezer.

    I prefer to eat sweets only very rarely. I am a volume eater and to live life at the weight I want to be, I must spend my calories on primarily low density foods: fruit, veggies, nonfat milk, lean protein. I do eat some dense foods like nuts and olive oil. Sugar and I don't have a good relationship. Sometimes I can eat a little, but for me it is risking losing control and stirring up cravings.

    You may want to check out the book "The Beck Diet Solution". There is a whole chapter about the fairness issue -- others can eat whatever they want. It helped me a lot. Take care.

    Hope you can have your cake and your healthy food plan, too!!
    1881 days ago
    Lol! When I saw the title of your blog I thought of my mother-in-law. She is a "cake & cookie pusher."

    I so admire your ability to manage desserts. I've not had sugar since October 17th. I just can't handle myself around it.... I'm such an addict!
    1881 days ago
    I admire your way of thinking. It seems like you have a very good grasp on your relationship with food even though you are currently frustrated. Could you purchase a smaller cake pan, so you would have less servings overall? I hope you are able to find a way to have your cake without being the pusher :-) Great blog!
    1881 days ago
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