I Ate a Whole Pan of Brownies… Here’s What You Need to Know

I Ate a Whole Pan of Brownies… Here’s What You Need to Know


I Ate a Whole Pan of Brownies.

Yes, all by myself. The whole thing.

Well, wait. That is not entirely true. I am exaggerating — a little bit.

As the brownies came out of the oven, I cut the brownies into nine equal squares. My husband had a corner piece. My daughter requested the center. And, I ate one brownie myself, it was another corner piece.

After that, the pan of brownies was all mine.

If you were to round it, I nearly ate the whole pan by myself.

Licking those fingers after eating brownies.

Now, that’s not everything.

I am leaving out one interesting point of this confession. This whole pan of brownies “incident” happened to a registered dietitian.

While my job, at the time, was to talk with hospital patients about their health conditions and how they needed to improve the foods they eat. I was over here secretly eating nearly the whole pan of brownies.

This event coincided with low point in my life.

Not just because I ate the whole pan of brownies. But, this was when I was at the height of my problems with perfectionism. {Though I wouldn’t uncover the reason behind my troubles for a few more years.}

My life felt out of control. And, while eating the pan of brownies was definitely not how I had envisioned my personal life, it was also one of MANY (difficult) events happening simultaneously.

The Brownies Weren’t Even Enjoyable

This is the hard part. Looking back on that night, I didn’t even enjoy or savor the brownies. What followed after I was done eating was less than glamorous too. Can you relate?

Given the fact I cannot remember enjoying the brownies says a lot. All I can remember was standing over the stove longingly gazing at the brownies.

I quickly shoved a second brownie into my mouth. This was of course, after my husband and daughter had gone upstairs. Which meant I was alone in the kitchen. Then, with some hesitation, I reached for a third brownie.

It was almost as if I was in a brownie eating contest. The person who could eat the brownies the fastest would be the winner. And, I wanted that to be me.

The way in which I stuffed my face with the brownies was how you would image a pie eating contest in a movie or TV show. But, with brownies instead of the pie.

Making light of the situation… Homer Simpson eating a plate of brownies.

Here Comes the Shame…

After the first couple of brownies, I lectured myself, as if it was my mother’s voice from childhood, “Ok, one more and then you are done! You don’t need anymore than that!”

Uh, yea. That didn’t happen.

I picked up another brownie and said to myself, “You don’t really need this brownie.”

But the devil on the other shoulder said, “It is so good. You had a hard week at work. You DESERVE this brownie right now!! Just eat it!”

No Judgment Here—Setting Boundaries

If you are the type of person passing judgment on me right now… Then, you can move along. We don’t need to be friends.

I am telling this story because I know I am not the only one who has done this. I know I’m not the only one that has struggled to keep it together, only to find themselves with an insatiable appetite for some coveted (or “bad”) food that tastes too good to resist.

More importantly, I know what it is like to struggle.

I want you to know. It doesn’t have to be that way.

This is why I do what I do. This story of eating a whole pan of brownies is my truth. And, I felt as though I needed to be truthful with you.

Break the cycle of don’t eat this ‘bad’ food. Which is almost immediately followed by eating all of the ‘bad’ food. It sucks, but you can move past it with a little help.

Back to the Brownies

Before I knew it, the pan was empty. There were no longer any brownies. Just the crumbs there glaring back at me as a reminder of what I had just done.

The hardest part about eating the pan of brownies – and sharing a single brownie with my husband and daughter – was that they knew there were brownies at one point. They also knew the brownies were gone. But, where did they go?

Too bad we didn’t have a dog at the time. I could have said ‘the dog ate them.’ Right?! And then flee the situation by pretending to need to take the dog to the vet because of the chocolate in the brownies.

This led to me washing out the pan to get rid of the evidence.

Thankfully, they didn’t really nag me about where the brownies went. It was almost as if it was a topic that no one speaks about – We just pretended it never happen. It became a modern ”Don’t ask, don’t tell” situation.

But, I knew what happened. And, I knew I ate all the brownies.

A Recurring Event? Uh, Yea.

I’d like to tell you that this was the one and only time I did something like that. But, I wouldn’t be telling you the truth.

There was that time I ate the whole pan of rice crispy treats. Those I didn’t even share with my family, so there was no evidence to be worried about concealing.

And, that certainly happened more than once. I guess you could say rice crispy treats are a major weakness for me. Even more so than the brownies.

There has also been the Halloween and Easter candy, as well as the Girl Scout cookie annual binge… In other words, the brownie thing was not a one time occurrence. Sugar and I are close friends.

A woman standing in a field wearing a You Are Enough Classic Fit Sangria Maroon
You Are Enough. This shirt is a reminder of this important message!
White word bubble with black with F*ck Diets eat intuitively on it
Yes, you read that right. Let’s say goodbye to diets forever! F*ck Diets Eat Intuitively – HAES Ditch Diet Culture

But, You Know Better! You’re a Dietitian!

I can already hear people’s reaction to this story. As a dietitian, people may react to this story by saying, “Seriously? You know better! I can’t believe you ate the whole pan of brownies!”

For a handful of people, they may no longer respect what I have to say about ‘healthy’ eating. They might look as me as a failure now because even I can’t control my own desire to eat brownies – or the whole pan. How can I help them to control their insatiable desires to binge on ‘bad’ foods?

But, I want people to know something else about me — I am human. Just like you.

Why Did this Happen? How is it Even Possible?

Warning: Lack of self-control is not the reason this happened.

Those are great questions. Obviously, the first answer is ‘I am human.’

Other than that, it is absolutely the result of diet culture, restricting favorite foods, and trying to hold up a particular image which resulted in self-destructive behaviors.

However, little did I know, these events were a symptom of a larger problem. And, it was *not* because I had a lack of self-control….

I’ll be real with you on getting past those days of standing in the kitchen stuffing my face with sweets and treats was hard.

It took time to learn how to break the cycle.

It was the type of change that took YEARS to happen. None of that 30-day “miracle” stuff. Magic pills, drinks, or meal plans can help either.

It is a process. And, it takes time.

It involves learning to face the truth of what happened. Not the surface level stuff. But, what’s going on underneath.

Opting to do any of the following will NOT help or correct the situation, such as: going on a sugar cleanse, making only ”healthy” brownies with no sugar and black beans instead, or focusing on more willpower when it comes to your nutrition status.

These are all band-aids to what is really happening in your life.

What Can You Do to Help Yourself?

First, ditch the shame.

When you’ve binged with a plate of brownies, there is inevitably that voice in the back of your head telling you all the worst things. You’d rather be caught dead than speak these words to your best friend. Yet, you willing say them to yourself. These terrible words are the result of shame.

It’s important to understand that shame makes you believe that you are not worthy — of making mistakes, forgiveness, or compassion. However, you are worthy. You can make mistakes. You deserve forgiveness. Lastly, you are absolutely worthy of compassion.

In order to help you ditch the shame, it is helpful to get curious. Take some time to dissect what’s happening under the surface. Here are some questions to help you get started:

  • WHY is this happening?
  • What are you struggling with right now?
  • Are you restricting* foods you enjoy? Or did you just recently restrict?
  • Have you been trying to control your food intake too much?
    • You take the approach that your head knows more than your body’s natural instincts? Meaning, you are trying to control your body by going on the latest diet or removing a list of “bad” foods from your daily intake. Hint: The answer to these questions is not a lack of self-control.

*Restricting foods can include many things. For example, changing your diet to remove a list of foods from your life such as fat, protein, carbohydrates. It may include not eating foods that have been deemed “bad” for you by a celebrity, influencer, nutritionist, personal trainer, weight loss program or diet guru. In other situations, it may be cutting back on portion sizes in an attempt to lose weight. Oh, having a ‘cheat day’ while following a specific way of eating the rest of the week IS considered to fall under the restriction umbrella. Of course these are the only ways to restrict, but hopefully help you to define it.

Second, give yourself some grace.

Also known as self-compassion.

Many of us freely give compassion to others. Yet, it is hard to do the same for ourselves. In fact, learning compassion for others is often something we are taught from a young age. Yet, no one really teaches us to apply the same principle to the most important person in your life — you.

If you are new to this concept, remember it will take some time to learn. If you are looking for some resources to help out, Kristin Neff is an incredible wealth of information. Here is a link to check out some ways to practice self-compassion.

Remember, some days will be easier than others. But, keep pushing forward. It will be worth it in the long run.

Third, allow yourself time.

As I mentioned above, it takes time to break this cycle. It is not something that can happen in 30-days, no matter what your friend (or that fad diet or weight loss story) is trying to tell you.

Similarly, if your friends (or family members) are not helping you to ditch the shame, find some grace, and allow yourself some time — it is time to set some boundaries.

By friends and family shaming you about your eating habits, it only creates more problems. If you need help setting boundaries on this one, it might be time to find a therapist that works with individuals with disordered eating tendencies. By working with a therapist, you’ll also learn to reassure yourself and accept that the process will take longer than you desire.

Important Point: Seeking a therapist who works with disordered eating does not mean you have to label yourself with having this issue. Rather, someone who is skilled in this area can help you to reframe your thoughts around food in a positive way. Not all therapists can help you create a healthy mindset around food. They must have been trained in this subsection of the field.

Additional steps…

We could walk through many different ways to help you break the cycle, but I don’t want to overwhelm you. Instead of trying to “all the things” — really focus on the three steps outlined above. Seriously!

You might decide to work with a dietitian who works with people who struggle with disordered eating or teaches intuitive eating. <— Intuitive eating can definitely help you with the steps above.

Or, you may consider talking to a therapist (the caveat is to make sure that you find someone who is informed — refer to the Important Point block in the previous section).

Moral of the story

If you’ve found yourself alone with a pan of brownies that suddenly disappeared. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

No matter how bad you feel about it, please do not go down the negative self-talk spiral.

You are human.

This sort of thing does happen to other people (even someone who is professionally trained in the field of nutrition). Remember, you will not prevent yourself from repeating this in the future by taking the shame road. Instead it’ll take ditching restrictive eating while also welcoming curiosity and self-compassion into your life.

Now, I recognize that it can be difficult to ditch the negative self-talk in this sort of situation. Especially when all we have been taught is that this sort of thing is our fault {insert bullshit about lack of willpower}. It is not about willpower.

Your journey will require unlearning many of the habits that perpetuate this behavior, such as restrictive eating (even if it is packaged as a life-style or ‘healthy eating’). To help guide you, it is best to work with someone who is specifically trained in this space. Consider working with a therapist who is disordered eating informed or a dietitian who works in the intuitive eating space. Or, both!

For now, take it one day at a time. Then rely on the basic steps: ditch the shame, welcome self-compassion, and allow the process to take time.

Sending you big hugs through the process!

XOXO Kristi

Update: Brownies and I have since made peace with one another. You can find me enjoying a single brownie (sometimes more) any time my kids make them. Mainly because I followed my own advice shared in this article.

In case you are wondering my favorite brownie recipe: It is the one from a box. Basically any of those will do. LOL

And yes. We consistently have a box of brownie mix in the house at all times (Thank you, Winco for having boxes for 0.88¢!!)

But, brownies and I have been able to be at peace with one another is because I have changed my mindset about food and by ditching the shame. (I also had to reframe my thoughts surrounding brownies and other “junk” food. As in, mortality is not tied to food. Therefore, I am not good or bad by eating certain foods. We will have to talk about it in more detail another time though.).

Until next time, XO

2 replies on “I Ate a Whole Pan of Brownies… Here’s What You Need to Know

  • Jessica

    Thank you for this post. I’ve been going through this for years. It’s been especially rough these last three years. It made me feel not so alone when I read this. Thank you.

    • Kristi Coughlin

      Hi Jessica, I am so sorry to hear you have been struggling. It is hard, but remember 1) you are not alone, 2) You are absolutely allowed to eat all foods. There are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods. If you’re looking for more, read about Intuitive Eating. It will challenge your belief systems, but help you in the long run. Sending you healing vibes. XO Kristi


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