Step Away From the Cheesecake (and other Emotional Abuse)

I usually have a hobby at the ready for moments like these. I find something juicy to binge on Netflix or I paint something juicy with watercolors. Or I obsess over reorganizing my closet. I know things need to change in my life when the only thing I’m looking forward to at the end of a day is cheesecake. Any dessert actually, but lately it’s cheesecake. Junior’s No-Sugar Added Cheesecake to be exact. Or sometimes a tub of Halo Top (Cinnamon Roll and Pumpkin Pie). Mostly, it’s the cheesecake.

The other day, I drove to five different grocers asking for the Junior’s Cheesecake. Everyone was out. I now have the phone number of Carlos, the man who works in the bakery of one such grocer, who said I should call him today to see if they have any in. When I say I’m “obsessed,” what I really mean is that I’m consumed. It’s all I can think about, which means I’m not looking somewhere else.

Whenever I feel this consumed by the need to eat something I know something else is at play: my emotions. I either want to avoid feeling something (bored, lonesome, blue, in a rut, fearful, intimidated, scared), or I’m hoping to feel something that I’m not (carefree, giddy, excited, adored, desired). Cheesecake diddles with my endorphins and gives me my moment, like any other false pleasure. For some, the cheesecake is wine. Anything we over-do that creates a negative consequence is something worthy of our attention. And that’s the key, right, because we can subvert our desires in lots of different ways; who’s to say what’s healthy or unhealthy? And that’s the distinction: if there’s a negative consequence tied to the behavior, then it’s not serving you. My obsession with the cheesecake means I need to shake things up, not by obsessing instead over frozen berries and fresh whipped cream, but it means 2 drastic moves.

  1. Don’t: Distract from or avoid feeling the feeling. Feel it. Let it pass, because it will.
  2. Do: Replace the unhealthy behavior with one that doesn’t have a negative consequence.

Taking a bath or phoning a friend are lifelines that never give me the right answer. Getting a manicure or pedicure at 9pm, once the kids are in bed and the day is finally all mine to savor, doesn’t do it for me either. I know myself well enough to know that I need something new. Bring on the novelty.

Whenever I’m in a place where the only thing I’m looking forward to is planning a menu, or reading a new cookbook (and I have some good ones now, as evidenced by my FOUR latest cookbook purchases above), or indulging in food when I’m not physically hungry (just out of habit and a sense of deserving it), I know it means that I need to create. That’s always the answer that works for me. I need to LEARN and FOCUS and be completely consumed with CREATING SOMETHING NEW.

At one point it was learning photography, then knitting, then makeup. Usually it’s a creative pursuit. I will say, I’m so grateful that I’m this aware. How many people turn to food or wine constantly without even a second thought? So now I’m on the hunt to create something new. I’ve been searching today, hoping something would ignite my desire, something more powerful that Carlos’s phone number.

I’m still on the hunt for a new project, but for now, a new blog post will do. Thanksgiving Menu planning, though, is always gonna be on my horizon.




  1. If we lived near each other, I would beg you to come volunteer at the charity where I work. Some of our best volunteers are in your exact situation – looking for a meaningful project without being forced into it. Wanna move to Utah?

    1. Author

      I love that. I do a LOT of volunteer work. Hello, all of Girl Scouts. But sometimes it feels too much like “shackles,” like an obligation to which I committed but don’t feel good about doing until after the fact. It’s hard work but I know it makes a lasting impression in the lives of these girls and families. But I’m never, ever, going to want a Girl Scout meeting more than I’m gonna want cheesecake! I totally get what you’re saying though!

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