When I had my eating disorder, eating at the Cheesecake Factory for special occasions scared me a little. I felt comfortable with my friends and family, and I absolutely adored the atmosphere.
But the portions were massive, the even the “healthy” food on the menu seemed “unhealthy” and I could hardly “control” how much I ate.
Not to mention, there was the exciting yet stress-inducing moment where I would have to order a huge slice of cheesecake and deal with more “self-control” then.
Part of me wanted to stay away from the cheesecake, but another part of me, the real me, wanted to eat it because um well, hello, it’s delicious.
I never wanted to appear like I was trying too hard to diet, so I’d always order with everyone else. My eating disorder was always masked by my need to look like a “normal eater” as best I could to others.
Ordering my meal caused a massive inner conflict each time. Do I eat off the “light” menu and look like I’m dieting too hard? Do I order what my heart wants, (obviously the Louisiana Chicken Pasta), or do I go for a massive salad, that’s delicious but still inherently disappointing because I always only ate salad back then. “And still, the salad is way too many calories anyway” I’d say to myself.
Oh, calories. I’d really wrestle with thoughts of calories. The lower the calories, the less guilt. Calories were usually the swing vote that caused me to order something truly unsatisfying, like the salad or maybe a plan chicken sandwich or boring-ass soup.
When it came to ordering cheesecake, I’d have the same internal war all over again. The peanut butter chocolate options practically made me drool over the menu, but I just couldn’t go there. Cuz, peanut butter.
I think a few times I settled for the plain cheesecake with sugar free sweetener, or maybe something lighter off the dessert menu that wasn’t even cheesecake. Again, all of this was just so unsatisfying after I scarfed mine down I’d start picking at everyone else’s like a pesky restaurant vulture.
I’d leave the restaurant feeling nauseous, overstuffed and guilty. I’d have no leftovers because god knows that when you constantly deny yourself food during the day, any chance to have a full meal is seized, ravenously.
Now, whenever I go to the Cheesecake Factory, I go order my favorite all time dish- Louisiana Chicken Pasta. I eat what I can and manage to pack away enough leftovers for a big lunch the next day. I order whatever cheesecake I want (I’m currently obsessed with the Nutella cheesecake). When I eat the cheesecake, there’s no guilt. Just pleasure and enjoyment. I savor each bite for the magical flavor. My sweet tooth is pleased, my heart is pleased, and future me is also super pleased because I usually pack about half my cheesecake for leftovers too.
I leave feeling completely satisfied, and my body feels warm, cozy and happy. I absolutely do not feel overly full- which to this day is still a very uncomfortable feeling for me.
So what are my recommendations when you go to your favorite restaurant?
The challenge here is that you might experience fat phobia when you stay “above the laws” of diet culture. You may think what you eat will make you fat.
But you must remind yourself that that one meal will not make you fat. Food doesn’t make you fat. It’s the behaviors attached to food that make you fat. Also, fat isn’t bad.
Eating what you truly want when you want it will decrease your need to binge. Satisfying your hunger will do the same.
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