One of my favorite toys growing up was my EZ Bake Oven. The heating apparatus in an EZ Bake Oven is nothing more then a light bulb. I wonder if I could make one of those with a cardboard box and relive my childhood. Anyway, the oven came with little pans and packets of cake mix.I learned to mix the batter, pour it into the little pans and slide them into the oven. In a few minutes, I would have a little cake. I loved making those little cakes. I soon ran out of the packets that came with the toy, and I discovered that box cake mix worked just as well. You know, it wasn’t that I loved eating this little cakes, as much as I liked serving them up to my parents and siblings. I soon discovered that food an change people’s moods nearly instantaneously. As I grew older, I learned to use the real oven and the stove. I was 16 when I cooked my first Thanksgiving dinner. Complete with Turkey with apple raisin stuffing, baked macaroni and cheese, candied yams…
I liked the reactions I could get from people just by using butter, eggs, chocolate chips, flour. Bake for 15 minutes and receive plenty of smiles in return. I realize now that part of me loves the praise I get when I cook and bake foods for people. Conversely, when people don’t like the food I make, or even just the food I suggest at a restaurant, I feel like I have let them down in some way.
When I got married, I loved planning out elaborate meals to cook for my husband. My husband loves pasta, and I’ve tried out plenty of lasagna, ziti, and manicotti recipes on him. While it felt good to make him happy by cooking his favorite foods, many of my husbands favorites are just not very healthy.
Once I started losing weight, I started to make substitutions. I would substitute brown rice and whole wheat pasta for their white counterparts. He didn’t mind those changes too much. But one sticking point we still have is over sugar. My husband will pour tablespoons of sugar over his oatmeal and into his coffee and tea. He doesn’t seem to like the alternatives that we have tried, like Splenda, Stevia and even Agave Nectar. None are sweet enough for him. So, whenever I prepare him something using a sweetener besides his old stand-by he notices immediately. Granted, he has gotten better. He can usually swap half the amount of sugar for splenda or stevia and not notice a difference, but he won’t give up his sugar.
The more changes I make in my diet, the more I want him to enjoy the new healthy foods that I have discovered, but sometimes his taste-buds just aren’t ready for them. Take my Larabar purchase. My husband didn’t like they cherry pie flavor because he didn’t find them sweet enough. Now most people would just brush off that comment, but me: the people pleaser felt like he was making a value judgement about my choices. Weird, I know.
Or when I make muffins using very little sugar and applesauce, he doesn’t eat many of them. Sometimes, I do make his favorite desserts without healthying them up. His fave is sweet potato pie, but that’s an occasional treat, now. Sometime I wish I could just snap my fingers and he would instantly enjoy my healthy favorites as much as I do, but that’s not going to happen. The truth is, he may never enjoy egg white omelets, but that doesn’t mean I have to change the way I eat or cook to make other happy all the time.
It’s a continuous struggle to balance my desire to please others through food, with my desire to live a healthy lifestyle, but I’m not giving up.
By the way, as you may know, I’m a MA student, and this week all my final assignments are due for the summer session. If I’m not around much this week, that’s why.