Happy Birthday! Is It Really A Celebration Without Cake?
There’s a good reason for that. One that’s embedded in our cultural DNA. In days past food took a lot more energy to find and prepare. Our ancestors, as recently as 150 years ago, couldn’t just nip down to the corner market to pick up a birthday cake.
What better way to show hospitality and caring than to cook something extra? What better way to designate that a day is special, than to share your hard-won food?
I’ve got a birthday coming up. Not just any birthday either, 65, a milestone. How to mark that milestone?
My Aunt Miriam always said that birthdays aren’t just a day, they’re a season. In my not so distant past, I used my birthday season as an excuse to eat anything and everything I wanted. I literally would go on a two week eating binge.
Then an experience 8 years ago wised me up.
When I woke up on the morning of my birthday, after two weeks of eating Cheez-its and cookies, you’d think I’d had my fill. But no, I said, “Yippee! It’s my birthday! I can eat anything I want.”
I went to our neighborhood sub shop and ordered my favorite sandwich, a full size cheese sub with mayo and mustard. I grabbed a small bag of potato chips, and then thought, “Hey, birthday girl, treat yourself!” so I put the small bag back on the rack and got a larger one. And I didn’t forget the large soda too.
An hour and a half later, stuffed and bloated, I felt like I’d said “Happy Birthday” and then turned around and punched myself. So much for celebrating.
I’m happy to say that was the last time I did that.
I want to enjoy my birthday season, but I want to enjoy it without overusing food. So how am I making this season special without relying on food?
- Allowing myself extra naps
- Not feeling guilty when the yard work doesn’t get done
- Walking with my fitness tracker turned off
- Inviting a friend — who is also in her birthday season — to come to lunch
And since it’s a milestone, I’m giving myself a few days R&R at a yoga retreat center. I guarantee I won’t leave feeling stuff, bloated, or like I beat myself up.
Will I eat cake? Maybe. One piece, on my birthday, and only if it’s vegan. And if I have it, I’ll enjoy it. No guilt.
If I’ve learned anything in the past few years, if I truly want to treat myself well, food isn’t the way to go. There are other ways to treat myself that feel good while I’m doing them — and after.
What’s one way you treat yourself that doesn’t involve overdoing it with food?