Baking Doesn’t Equal Love

I love to cook all kinds of food. That wasn’t always the case, as when I first got married the only thing I knew how to make for a dinner meal was white rice and plain chicken. I couldn’t make dinner, but I sure could make some wicked desserts. Cakes with chocolate ganache, cookies simple and complex, pies, and more were well within my repertoire. As John and I traveled through our first years of marriage, I happily baked, went out to eat, and put on some weight, unaware of the extreme weight gain looming around the corner.

I baked unceasingly, one amazing dessert after another. We wouldn’t even have time to finish one dessert before I’d be pulling the next one out of the oven. When I got pregnant with my first daughter, and gained 75 pounds, I drowned my stress in chocolate. I continued baking, gaining, gorging and gaining. I couldn’t seem to stop making desserts. And unfortunately for me, I couldn’t stop eating them either.

For the years after her birth, but before I started losing weight, I baked with abandon. If anyone needed cookies for an event, they knew who to call. I’d happily bake their cookies, eat them all, and bake another batch. When I got stressed over my weight, I’d bake a cake. Fruitless clothes shopping trips to the mall made me depressed, so I made cookies when we got home. That was of course, after eating a Cinnabon or two at the mall. Baking was a salve, and a way to show my family I loved them.

But was it really showing them I loved them? Or was it pulling them along my unhealthy road one bite at a time? As I started on my own personal odyssey to lose 150 pounds by using my Fit to the Finish plan, I made a radical shift in many different areas of my life.  I exercised, I ate good food, and I put the brakes on baking. As the first few weeks went by, and I began to see results not only on the scale, but in my mind, I understood for the first time that encouraging my family to eat desserts all the time wasn’t good for them, or for me.

I stopped baking desserts, reserving the spectacular showpieces for holiday celebrations, and family gatherings. It was hard for John. He loved homemade desserts, and for a while I think he believed I’d never bake again. But he soon understood that I was limiting baking not only for my weight, but his health.

I learned that I could show my love for my family in ways that didn’t involve sugar. Just by being more available to them emotionally, and spending quality time with them, I showed them my love. Baking became secondary during the holiday season – still there – but not the focus.

I’ve had women in my weight loss classes who said, “I don’t think I can keep up with your plan because I really like to bake.” I understand where they are coming from because I felt the same way. But you can lose weight, get healthy and quit constantly baking.

Do I ever bake now? Yes! Just the other day I made a chocolate pie for dessert. And with so many people in the family, the pie was gone in one night. No tempting leftovers, no “bites to go” while passing through the kitchen. All gone.

One thing I learned about myself during my journey was that making decisions about cooking and baking for the family aren’t always easy choices. Changing your family’s expectations can be difficult. I’d encourage you to involve your family as you work on making healthy lifestyle changes. Perhaps baking isn’t your thing. Maybe you like to cook with a lot of oil (frying), or serve high calorie side dishes. Whatever your Achilles heel, it can be overcome, and compromised on.

Did you struggle with this issue as I did? How did you handle it?  Diane

24 thoughts on “Baking Doesn’t Equal Love

  1. Miz says:

    many thoughts on this from healthy baking to only special occasions baking to the (fiction book) Eat Cake! (read it?)
    but what is overwhelmingly in my mind is seeing a friend yesterday and talking with her about baking.

    She was making dessert for her family that night (we saw each other at the grocery store) and the name of the treat was CHOCOLATE LOVE.

    she went on to explain to me that she named it that because to her baking is LOVE and an expression of love and I wondered if that were passing an implied message on to her 4 kids.

    sorry for the ramble 🙂

  2. blackhuff says:

    I think this is because why I don’t bake. Our family is too small for a whole pie, tart or cake. So I just don’t bake anymore because I know that me and my husband is going to be tempted with the dessert.
    This week I told my husband how in the mood I am for a honey cake but told him that I am not going to bake it because a cake is too big for our small family.

  3. Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman says:

    My mother thinks baking = love and send baked goods whenever she wants to tell me she’s thinking about me. I appreciate the gesture, but I don’t need cookies to know she loves me. I think so often we see it as the only way we can show thanks or express our condolences or give congratulations. I, for one, don’t bake my love into anything because, frankly, I’m a terrible baker!

  4. vickie says:

    I thought of another homeschool mom I know who makes dessert on Friday nights. Her family eats very clean – very little processed. And the Friday night dessert thing sort of levels this off so the kids have something different and do not feel deprived. When you think of it that way, one little dessert is a good trade for a whole week of eating really well. And we are not talking about anhyone with weight issues. The whole house is very thin/trim/healthy. And there are 7 of them. So like you, if she makes the right size pan, everyone has a moderate piece of dessert and then it is gone. The other thing she does is for birthdays, the birthday person plans the menu (anything goes/okay) and picks the ‘cake’.

  5. Becky @ Skinny Dreaming says:

    I love baking desserts too. I have learned to use substitutions so that I can bake healthier versions of the desserts I used to make. Unfortunately, my husband also loves to bake and the stuff he bakes is still all sugar!

  6. Diane says:

    I bake, but not desserts. I bake bread and muffins instead of buying the store bought varieties because home baked products provide a superior form of nutrition, and helping my family be all that they can through good nutrition is love ( and so is putting my foot down and not allowing unhealthy habits to develop). I bake a treat on the weekends, but with healthy ingredients and scaled to be proper portion size. Reason being is the weekend is a time to relax and kick back a little.

  7. Karen says:

    Oh yes, blogged about it more than once too as I was thinking it through. The one that stands out is baking cookies for my son when he comes home from college.

  8. Dr. J says:

    When I read columns like this, Diane, it makes me sad that our world has allowed itself to become what it has with our distorted food supply so that something so wonderful like fresh baked items must be avoided.

  9. Desert Agave says:

    Hmmm. You know, I don’t think I’ve done any baking at all since I started losing weight. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to reintegrate it into my life without precipitating a binge.

  10. Andrea@WellnessNotes says:

    I baked a lot at one point in my life not only because I liked to eat the sweets but also because it calmed me down. I had to consciously make a point to calm myself down in other ways (going for a walk, playing with my kids, etc.). In the long run, for me it was important to not completely cut out baked goods but to have them once in a while and portion-controlled. Since our family is so small now, I like to bake mini cupcakes once in a while and freeze the leftovers.

  11. jessey says:

    We didn’t do a ton of baking growing up – occasional brownie and chocolate chip cookies. And then a bunch of stuff at Christmas. I do love to bake though. I’ve tried my hand at cake decorating and cupcakes, but I don’t eat much of what I make. But I do love to bake with my 4 year old daughter – it is a fun bonding experience, but a rare treat for us all.

  12. Tami says:

    I love to bake! I really do it is relaxing and so enjoyable for me. It also can lead to a binge for me since I am super carb sensitive! I don’t bake very often any more. Like you I reserve it for special occasions. My family doesn’t need those kinds of high sugar treats often any more than I do.

    At first the family was use to dessert almost every night and they were shocked when I didn’t have one to offer. It had become such a habit for us. But now they are use to it and we all are just fine with a piece of fruit.

  13. Michelle says:

    Thank you for this Diane! I kind of thought it was the homeschool mom syndrome because I know lots of other women who don’t feel compelled to express their love through baking, but I definitely do. (This is especially true during the holiday season!) 🙁
    I am still baking while I’m on my journey, but I try to keep it to one 8×8 pan of brownies or one regular pie—that way my family will eat the whole thing in one sitting–if there is a piece of pie or some cookies or brownie leftover, I pack it up right away for my dh’s lunch the next day.
    I do want my girls to know how to bake, but I also am teaching them how to cook meals–not just desserts. 🙂

  14. Jane says:

    Because I have struggled with my weight for so long and have a history of overeating what I bake, I have developed almost a phobia of having the ingredients in the house. So I now purchase more and more of the desserts at a bakery or grocery store.

    I get very nervous when I have a gathering that requires baking and cooking a big meal with appetizers and dessert. The stress of cooking, cleaning, and entertaining a large number of people has always sent me into overeating mode. My daughter is having Thanksgiving this year, so that is a blessing for me, considering that I am in weight loss mode.

  15. Jody - Fit at 53 says:

    I had trouble getting past the pic! 🙂

    Yes, I used to love to bake way back when! Even after I lost weight, I did bake but realized it was hard for me not to pick so I baked less…. I wasn’t the bets baker or cook anyway. 😉

    I do think holidays in general are all about the food, sweets & yes, money… unfortunately. I think we all need to get to some balance in every aspect.

    People can bake healthy versions of their foods but yes, eating too much of anything, healthy or not, makes us gain weight SO I say the person has to decide what is best for them & what they can handle.

  16. LovesCatsinCA says:

    I wasn’t a baker back then, but I do make some things now that I’ve slimmed down. Why? I really don’t want to have a bunch of tempting things around the house I bought.

    So I’ll make individual “Single Lady” cupcakes/muffins I found a recipe for online as a healthy breakfast or dessert (depending on what I put in them), or halve the recipe for four scones I found online, so I make just two and don’t have leftovers for the next few days.

    I’ve also found neat recipes like if you bake pumpkin pie recipes using nonfat condensed milk, egg substitute and less sugar, in foil cupcake liners instead of a crust, you have a fun, lowfat and nutritious dessert without all the richness of crust…

    It IS fun to warm up the house with the oven on a cold day–and I have also discovered healthy casseroles on sites like Cooking Light or Eating Well magazines, as well as on blogs.

  17. Taryl says:

    I do love baking, I love the smells, the tastes, and yes… The compliments and happy expressions from my family when I make something particularly delicious. I do have to limit it, there’s just no two ways about it. I try to make a treat or less a week, and I will usually make it, eat a serving, and have my husband either hide the rest for him and the kids or take it to work for his own consumption.

    It works for us 🙂

    I am getting better (very, very slowly) about being able to make junk food for my family’s occasional consumption and not bingeing on it when it sits on the counter. It’s a skill that has taken a lot fo time to cultivate, and I do much better if I don’t even take that first bite. The temptation ups when I eat some, instead of just letting them enjoy it.

  18. Leah says:

    I love to bake, though I don’t do it as often as I’d like sometimes. There are weeks that I have no problem making something (or having my daughter make some cookies) and not having any. Then there’s the week that I don’t do so well.

    I’ve learned to bake and give it away. I keep enough for our family and then share the rest. This works for me.

    I’d rather continue making desserts, allowing them in moderation than cut them out completely.

  19. 'Drea says:

    I love baking more than I like to cook regular food so I stopped baking. If someone asks me to bake something, I will but, after that, I shut down the bakery.

  20. Fran says:

    I love to bake but I never done it regurarly, don’t think even once a month. I do love making desserts but I think at the moment I do that once a month or so. But I think I want to make it more often. When I make dessert it’s usually on Sunday and it’s my treat for the week.

  21. Kate says:

    Oooh, I love to bake too, but only if I can eat what I’ve made with wild abandon. Since I can’t do that without going crazing and gaining 100 pounds, I really have stopped baking except for very rare occasions. I was just joking with a friend that I want to be the pastry chef in heaven. I make some amazing baklava, napolean, and cream puffs. I miss them, but not enough to be headed to a really early grave while I take my family down with me.

  22. vickie says:

    My husband met a woman who bakes 100 dozen cookies each holiday season. Yes that is 12 cookies x 100 sets. He asked what on earth she does with all of them and she said ‘shares’. And she was in the 300-350lbs range if you are wondering. I thought of your baking post as he was telling me this story. He asked me how many she was likely to eat vs share and I said I was afraid to even imagine. He said she was very proud of that 100 dozen number. . .

Leave a Reply