I Ate a Whole Pan of Brownies… By Myself

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 another corner piece.

After that, the pan of brownies was all mine.

So, in reality, I had about 7/9ths of the brownies. So, if you were to round up my portion, I nearly ate the whole pan by myself.

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. At the same time, I was over here secretly eating brownies – nearly the whole pan.

This was a low point for me.

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.

Given the fact I cannot remember enjoying the brownies tells me 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.

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.

Here Comes the Shame

After the first couple of brownies, I lectured myself, as if it was my mother’s voice from my 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!”

This is hard for me to admit because I know there are people who will pass judgment on me — A dietitian who ate a whole pan of brownies.

How is that possible?

They may even say something like, “Wow, how can I take your advice seriously knowing that?”

Setting Boundaries — No Judgment Here

If that is you – 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. But, I want you to know. It doesn’t have to be that way.

This. This right here is why I do what I do.

This is my truth. And, I felt as though I needed to be truthful with you because we are all human.

Break the cycle of “don’t eat this ‘bad’ food” and then, “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?

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.

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

Recurring Events

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 whole brownie thing was not a one time occurrence.

But, you know better!

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 this Even Possible?

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.

What Can You Do to Help Yourself?

First, ditch the shame.

Instead of getting upset with yourself, get curious. WHY is this happening? What are you struggling with right now? Are you restricted foods you enjoy? Or just recently did that? Have you been trying to control your food intake too much? As in, your head knows more than your body’s natural instincts? Hint: The answer to these questions is not a lack of self-control.

Second, give yourself some grace.

Also known as self-compassion. If you are new to this concept, remember it will take some time to learn. Some days will be easier than others. But, keep pushing forward. 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.

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 is trying to tell you. Along those lines, 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.

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! Also, you may consider talking to someone who can help you. No, not your friend. I am talking about a professional. You might decide to work with a dietitian who works with people who struggle with disordered eating or teaches intuitive eating. Or, you may consider talking to a therapist (the caveat is to make sure that you find someone who is informed).

Last Updated on May 17, 2021 by Kristi Coughlin

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