I’ve baked for most of my life. To pass the time, to find something to focus on, to calm my creative urges or simply because it was the fastest way to score something sweet for myself without having to leave the comfort of my home.
Last summer, before I started at my current job, I went through a phase of baking and decorating cupcakes. I’d follow every recipe to the letter and spend hours trying new ways to make them pretty. I loved it. It felt good to be creative. But it was like waving a liquor bottle under the nose of an alcoholic because I couldn’t actually eat them (at that point I was still adjusting to life after lap-band and could only manage to eat just one of my pretty presents in a day without a huge sugar rush and a very full tummy.)
So, instead of eating them or throwing them in the bin, I started baking batches of cupcakes and giving them away to friends and family instead. And I found that it felt great. I was happy baking, they were happy eating and I had no guilt whatsoever.
Yesterday was a hard day. One of the hardest I’ve had since I’ve been in Ottawa. To say I felt hopeless would be an understatement. And all I wanted to do was numb the pain. Normally I would eat or drink and I really didn’t want to do to much of either of those things because a) I was on my own and b) the guilt would simply add to the situation and I’d just end up in some kind of food-fueled self-destructive slump the next day.
So, in a strong effort to not allow myself to numb my pain with food, I decided to sip the recommended ‘one glass’ of red wine whilst baking my project team a pumpkin cheesecake. It kept me busy and shifted my focus away from eating and towards creating something special for some people I care about. And I felt a whole lot better.
It wasn’t until a friend asked me if I considered baking to be a coping mechanism that I actually realised it is. And it occurred to me that it always has been. Funny what a few things from a pantry can do for a heavy heart. Even if I don’t eat them myself.