It happened every time! For years, whenever I went home to visit my parents, my good intentions around healthy eating would instantly vanish.
As I walked into the kitchen, I would usually see a fresh batch of bar cookies called blonde brownies.
My mom knew I liked them. Once I’d arrived, she’d cut them into two-inch squares, stack them on a plate and set them in the center of the table. After greeting her and Dad, I’d sit down to visit over a cup of tea, and I’d eat a dozen of those cookies.
It seemed that once I started, I couldn’t stop. In that tiny, cozy kitchen with the red painted ceiling, I’d reach for one cookie after another.
Eventually, I started wondering what made those cookies so powerful that I couldn’t resist them. Although I enjoyed the soft texture and the thick layer of chocolate chips, I realized that it wasn’t the taste of the cookies that got me. Instead, it was the love!
When I’d been away from home for several months, I would yearn to feel close and connected to my family. So as I sat there, having cookies and tea with my mom, I’d soak up the feelings of love and contentment that I’d been missing for so long. In reality, I was trying to catch up, to fill my heart with enough love to make up for the time between my visits home.
Eating the cookies was not only hard on my weight, it also made me feel frustrated and upset that I couldn’t manage them better. Finally, on one of my visits, I got it. I figured out that I didn’t need to manage the cookies–I needed to manage the love.
A new strategy
On my next trip home, I started the visit by giving my mom a small gift. Then I pulled out a list of jokes I’d heard since seeing her last, and we spent an hour laughing together. Next, I showed her the books I was currently reading, and gave her my opinion of the writers and the plots.
Over the next few days, I drank herb teas from the supply I’d brought with me and took a lot of walks around the small town where my parents lived. I paid attention to the houses and shops and appreciated how my parents were part of this community.
To feel more connected to my home, I played scrabble with my mom, and Yahtzee and backgammon with my dad. I watched the annual parades on TV, and we made a game out of voting for our favorite displays.
Whenever I visited my home over the next years, the cookies were still there. But now I knew that I didn’t need to eat a dozen of them. Usually, I’d enjoy one along with my first cup of tea. But after that, I used my new tricks for showing love to my parents, intentionally looking for ways to feel close and connected.
Love isn’t chocolate
This month, if you struggle with the chocolates and special desserts around Valentine’s Day, plan how you can appreciate love without using food as your source. Look for ways to connect through warm conversations, non-food gifts and simply appreciating the people you’re with.
With a little effort, you’ll discover that sharing love tastes a lot sweeter than cookies!