Happy Birthday! Is It Really A Celebration Without Cake?

April 17, 2023Blog

why is it that all our celebrations involve food? And not just any food, our holiday tables are laden with rich and sugary treats.
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?

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