Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Chocolate Cake Saga

I posted what's below on earlier today and got some good responses, but wanted to archive a slightly tweaked version of it here too. I've also posted it on the Bariatric Eating board. Hopefully others will learn from my mistakes!

Warning: Very long and pathetic. Please, no one be as crazy as me.

Today is one of my coworker's birthdays, and given that we are a small office, we always do a little celebration. On Monday, we discussed what we were going to do. Because I'm CRAZY, I volunteered to bake a chocolate cake because my coworker loves chocolate. Also, I am not very good at my job, and I want my coworkers and boss to appreciate something about me. They have enjoyed my cooking in the past. So, this seemed like an opportunity to buy affection with food.

They Gave Me an Out.
Baking can be time-consuming and expensive (not to mention dangerous for serious compulsive eaters, such as yours truly.) In light of this, one of my coworkers checked with me on Tuesday to make sure it wasn't too much trouble to bake the cake. She said she could just buy crepes and we could have strawberries and whipped cream. On some level, this would be good because it wouldn't put my food abstinence at risk. She gave me an out that I should have taken - or I could have at least made chocolate ganache for the crepes, which would have been somewhat safer.

However, (1) the coworker with the birthday REALLY likes chocolate cake, and it's her birthday so I felt she should have a nice cake and not just crepes; and (2) I wouldn't have been contributing as much to the group if I didn't bake the cake. So I asked, "Which one would she prefer? Cake or crepes?" She knew the answer; I knew the answer, and so I left work early to try to get to the grocery store for cake supplies before WLS support group. (This is how crazy I am! Gotta go buy fats and sugary carbs before support group!!)

Day 1: Baking the Cake
I baked the cake on Tuesday night (after WLS support group, and after watching The Biggest Loser. WTF?) This was my first time baking something "regular" since surgery - I usually make WLS-friendly versions of desserts. For example, I enjoy making the black bean-based chocolate cake from Linda at Eating Well, Living Thin.

This traditional carby cake turned out beautifully! It was a buttery, moist, very deep chocolate bundt. Unfortunately, it rose a little too high out of my pan, so I needed to slice off some of the bottom to make it level.

You know what happened. I ate the trimmings. That's how I know how buttery, moist, and full-flavored the cake was. I justified this by saying, "Oh, I need to take a bite to make sure it's good enough to serve." But I didn't need to eat ALL that! I did my penance. Unfortunately, because I ate that cake, I wasn't able to finish the protein shake I'd made for that night. My pouch was just too full. FAIL.

Day 2: Glazing the Cake
I decided to lightly coat the bundt cake with semi-sweet chocolate and white chocolate ganaches. I really just wanted to make ganache. So last night - after yoga - I made my ganaches with regular sugary chocolate. I was hopeful they wouldn't tempt me as much as the cake did. I mean, frosting by itself isn't that great, and I didn't think the ganache would be either. But of course I "needed" to taste it to get the flavor perfect, right???

So I did. You know how this ended.

I ate ganache, more than I needed to get the flavor right. I even ate some of the chocolate that I used to make the ganache. I don't remember how my food addict mind justified this, but I know it did. When my little eating episode was over, I tossed the rest of the chocolate pieces. But I kept the leftover ganache because I wasn't pleased with how it sat on the cake, and I wanted to try some other methods with it in the morning.

I didn't even try to have my last shake last night. The thought of eating something else after all that ganache was just too nauseating. FAIL.

Day 3: Serving the Cake - and Coworker Disappointment?
This morning, I woke up at 6 AM to have my protein shake in advance of my morning workout. Before I made the protein shake, I decided to check on the ganache to see if getting it really cold changed it to become the consistency I was looking for.


The consistency was right, but as a compulsive eater of course my next move was to "taste" it. Yes, I'd already tasted it last night, but I wanted to make sure it tasted right cold (you know, because that's really important ::sarcasm::.)

I ate several teaspoons of white chocolate ganache. I ate so many that even though I don't usually dump, I did this time! I had severe nausea, my heart was racing, and I was incapacitated for 30-45 minutes. This almost jeopardized my workout, but fortunately I pulled something together after the half-hour of horror passed.

It was oddly comforting to know that I have some kind of limit, even though it must be extremely high since I didn't get sick during the earlier phases of this chocolate cake nightmare.

So anyway, I tossed the rest of the ganache, exercised, dressed for work, and brought the cake with me. Finally, the cake was out of my addict hands!

We had the office party early because today's really busy. The first thing the birthday girl asked me: "Hey, is this the black bean cake? My family LOVES that!"

I thought: "Umm.... what?!?! You mean I deliberately baked a sugary, buttery cake, trying not to impose my nutritional constraints on others, and you're telling me you want a WLS-friendly cake?! You mean I've screwed up my calorie counts for almost the entire week and you wanted something healthy?!"

But I responded: "Oh, I'm sorry! I thought you'd want a real cake for your birthday. If I'd known, I would have made it!" I felt like a complete IDIOT.

The four of us (two coworkers and our boss) sat at a tiny table to share the cake. I didn't want any cake. I was SO DONE with that cake. But, being CRAZY and weak, I took the slice I was given and ate a few bites. I threw most of it away. I'm proud that I only ate a few bites, at least, but still . . . dang. Just two hours earlier, I'd dumped on this selfsame cake!

Fortunately, my coworkers loved the cake. Even the boss, who is not a huge chocolate fan, was all about this cake. Mission accomplished, on some level - but I still suck at my job, I dumped, and now my weight's up. EPIC FAIL.

What Have I Learned?
I knew I had "head issues," but this episode brought up some new ones.

(1) I now realize that I've been using food as a way to seek approval from others. I may not be all that entertaining or interesting, but I'm a damn good cook, so I've always been the one to bake friends' birthday cakes or offer to host and cook for a dinner party. I would put a lot of pressure on myself to try to make the BEST dish for potlucks with friends, even if that meant spending tons of money I don't have on ingredients. I was willing to do whatever it took to get the compliments. I'd be upset if a dish wasn't fawned over, even if everyone else was having a good time. I need to understand that I have more to offer my friends and coworkers than cooking skills. I also need to stop relying on others to validate me in this way. This is a huge realization, actually - I wasn't aware of this issue a week ago.

(2) I knew, at least in the back of my mind, that I wasn't strong enough to bake a cake without tasting some of it. I knew that even when I volunteered to bake it. And I definitely knew I wouldn't be able to taste the cake by just taking a bite or 2. One or two bites inevitably becomes four or five with me. So why did I decide to bake the cake knowing what would happen?

(3) Relatedly, I wanted to test my RNY, for some reason. Other than Calcet vitamins, this was my first real sugary treat since surgery over a year ago. I think one of the reasons I baked the cake, knowing I'd eat some, was to see how much indulgence it would take to make me sick. Unfortunately, it took a lot of powerful sugariness on an empty stomach to produce something akin to dumping syndrome, even though the cake/ganache did some less severe digestive damage the night before.

There are probably more lessons I could take from this, but those jump out at me.

Obviously, I need to get my head back in the game. One bad decision leads to another bad decision, which leads to another bad decision, and next thing you know, you're 300 pounds again.

The good news is, I'm not craving chocolate cake or other sugar/carbs. I'm not feeling a general urge to stray from my food plan, and I wouldn't have wanted cake if it hadn't been in my house. I'm less worried about the food stuff than the head stuff. What can I do to stop being crazy and volunteering to bake full sugar cakes to get people to like me? Why didn't I respond, "We should get her a chocolate cake. I'll buy one!"

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