This week, I baked cookies. Chocolate chip cookies. Twelve dozen of them. (Side note: They were for a bake sale. I mean, as much as I love chocolate chip cookies, baking 144 of them isn’t a norm for me. Kinda sad, right?) As I stood in the kitchen, making a mess of flour and sugar all over the counters, floor, and myself, I thought about previous times I’d made cookies. And I realized that my somewhat rocky relationship with chocolate chip cookies marked the stages in my relationship with food.
I mapped out those stages (and their relation to chocolate chip cookies, because, you know) and I found it really helpful for me to see them out like this. And it helped me think through them when I thought about I’ll share them with you here. Maybe you’ll relate to some (or all) of them. And if you think it might be helpful for you, maybe map out your own stages in YOUR relationship with food. <3
Age seven: Normal, healthy, intuitive relationship with food. I’d make cookies. Eat a couple spoonfuls of dough. Let them bake. Eat a cookie. I had no reason to deprive myself, and since I wasn’t restricting myself, I had no reason to eat more than I needed/wanted.
Age eleven: Pre-eating disorder but under the influence of diet messages–starting down the disordered eating path. I’d make cookies, but set a general limit on how much dough/how many cookies I could have. In this stage, I was beginning to see foods as good or bad. I mostly restricted myself in terms of quantity, not the “badness” of the food. But because of the mental rules I set for myself, I was already beginning to feel a little out of control. I’d have two cookies and feel guilty. The guilt didn’t last long and I didn’t do much about it.
Age thirteen: Full blown eating disorder. I made cookies for other people. Not for me. In my fearful state, I felt like I’d rather undergo all sorts of stress and hardships than eat a cookie. Obviously, I’d crave cookies them. So I’d look at recipes endlessly. Feel irritable. Hungry. But also a weird sense of elation that I was being disciplined with myself.
Age fourteen: Post E.D. treatment but still not fully recovered. I didn’t bake cookies and I wouldn’t eat them either, for weight reasons, not health reasons. I was eating enough to sustain and nourish me physically at this point, but not mentally or emotionally.
Age fifteen: Orthorexic mindset developed. Still no baking/eating cookies, but now out of fear of health consequences, not weight gain. If I “slipped up” and let myself have even the tiniest taste of a cookie, I’d feel like my whole day was ruined and I might as well eat whatever. Definitely an all-or-nothing mentality.
Age sixteen: Discovering intuitive eating. I started eating previously off-limits food on very rare occasions. Still some guilt surrounding those times, but I tried not to act on the guilt. I didn’t really binge, but if I ate a cookie unplanned, I would often end up eating past my fullness level as backlash to the lingering mental restrictions.
Age seventeen: Getting comfortable with eating intuitively. I started to be able to eat cookies and other desserts at other people’s houses/restaurants/when offered to me when I felt like it. I started basing my food choices off of what my body was telling me instead of what I thought I “should” have. Guilt diminished.
Age eighteen: I’d call myself an intuitive eater. Now, I’ll bake and eat cookies if I feel like having them. It doesn’t have to be a birthday party or special occasion for me to eat dessert. Because I’ve gotten rid of food rules and restrictions, I don’t have problems with eating past my fullness level. Of course, I’m not perfect. Sometimes I overeat. Sometimes I undereat. But those occasions are rare.
So this time, as I baked 12 dozen cookies? I thought about how even the thought of that many cookies would have made me panic, feel out of control. But now that I listen to my body’s cues, it’s not so overwhelming. I had a little cookie dough. Ate a cookie. It didn’t ruin my day. Make me feel guilty.
It felt normal.
And because I couldn’t not, here’s my family’s favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. Trust me, it’s bomb.
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/4 cup AP flour
- 1 1/4 cup WW flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup oatmeal
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cream butter and sugars (if you have a stand mixer, use cold butter) until fluffy.
- Add eggs and vanilla. Beat until combined.
- Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- Stir in oatmeal and chocolate chips by hand.
- Drop by teaspoonful onto an uncreased baking sheet. Bake for 12ish minutes (know thine oven!)