Breaking Up with Cake

I used to have a thing for cake. Who am I kidding? I still have a thing for cake. I don’t think you ever really get over cake. It’s like that summer fling you had when you were 18—you never forget the magic of it, but you also know that it might not be the best thing for you in the long run.

A few years ago, I started a baking blog. It was during a rough patch in my life, when I was feeling crushed by life’s challenges, but working hard to accept them as opportunities for growth instead of an array of failures. I found some solace and comfort in baking.

I’d spent years trying to make my body tiny, and living in what I now see was a constant state of hunger. The healing truly began when I discovered baking and began to nourish myself. For a year, I blogged, baked, and ate a lot of cake. I was running regularly at the time, so my weight wasn’t affected, but I could feel that my relationship toward these sweets was unbalanced. But I also knew that it was helping me.

The morning I awoke with a splitting headache and a craving for more cake, I knew that I’d hit bottom. It was heartbreaking at first, just like the end of that summer fling. I went into a deep, dark, cake-less depression, full of feelings of deprivation, anger, and longing.

After a little while, I began to see that abstaining completely from sweets was not the answer. In fact, this black-and-white way of thinking has never worked well for me. Instead, the solution tends to lie in my ability to be creative. So I began experimenting with sugar substitutes like brown rice syrup, maple syrup, and agave, looking for alternatives that didn’t give me splitting headaches or induce cravings.

I haven’t mastered my relationship to sweets yet, and perhaps I never will, but it’s become more balanced. The biggest lesson for me is not to restrict myself, but instead to find ways to enjoy treats while still feeling good in my body. Here’s one of my new favorite recipes—it’s not cake, but it tastes great!

Healthy Rice Crispy Treats

1 cup peanut butter
1 box brown rice cereal
1½ cups brown rice syrup
Pinch of salt
½ cup chocolate chips

Pour the cereal into a large bowl.

Heat the syrup in a saucepan with a pinch of salt. Once the syrup liquefies, add the peanut butter and stir until combined.

Pour mixture over the cereal and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined.

When the mixture has cooled, add the chocolate chips and turn the mixture into a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Using your fingertips, press the mixture evenly into the pan and let sit for 30 minutes. Cut into squares and serve.

Samantha Cullen is an actor and yoga teacher who writes a blog, The Yoga of Cake.

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Samantha Cullen, RYT, is a certified yoga teacher and outdoor guide for Kripalu R&R Retreats and other Kripalu programs.

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