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On Ice Cream Sundaes, “Treating Yourself Well” + Self-Care

So many of us have jacked up ideas of what it means to treat ourselves kindly.

All of us, former dieters and non-dieters alike, are socialized to associate treating ourselves kindly with: feeding ourselves food that we don’t typically allow or eating it in greater quantities, permitting ourselves to relax our personal boundaries, and before we know it, we find ourselves feeling worse than we did to begin with.

For many of us, self-care is a meal with no rules.

For many of us, the idea of treats or rewards for good behavior is hard-wired in, even long after we’ve excavated the litany of other dieting rules and regulations from our lives.

For me, it’s the promise of an ice cream sundae.

Now, please don’t misunderstand me, treating ourselves kindly can mean an ice cream sundae. But, only if you’re the type of person who can safely and healthfully eat an ice cream sundae without awful bodily recourse.  And I’m not talking about gaining weight.

Sugar makes me crazy. It makes me yell at the people that I love, and feel like my body is overrun by an army of insane feelings running every which way all at one time.  It makes me self-conscious, paranoid, alarmed, terrified, and sad.

Now, the point of this post isn’t to tell you not to eat sugar, the point of this post is that I know that eating sugar makes me totally flip out, and yet, whenever I’m stressed or overwhelmed, I feel, deeply, like I deserve to eat that ice cream sundae.

I have earned it.

I have been so good and I have been working so hard.

But, you have to stop and wonder, why am I “rewarding” all of my hard work with something that makes me feel like shit? Something that makes me feel 100% worse than I was already feeling when I was so stressed out.

What is it about the ice cream sundae?

It is the food I didn’t allow myself.  To me, ice cream sundaes have been synonymous with breaking all the rules, hanging out, relaxing, letting my hair down, and saying fuck it to all the hard things in my life. It has been the ultimate revenge against all the things that have pushed me beyond my own capabilities, or asked me to be more than I am.

It has been my way of reclaiming my right to my own body and mind.

And yet?  For me, it is completely the wrong choice. It is a choice that is laced with my personal history of body hatred and control. It’s not that I can’t eat a sundae mindfully, it’s that, if I were being mindful, I would realize the sharp pains in my stomach or the acceleration of my heart rate or the huge crying fit that is just welling up in my chest.

It’s about taking a moment to be sweet to yourself, truly sweet and loving and compassionate, and realizing that what might actually make me feel better is an avocado on some 7-Grain toast with salt or an indulgently long shower or an impromptu trip to the movies with my sweetheart or a delicious nap.

By definition, self-care should be something that makes YOU feel CARED FOR and love and cozy and merry. This will be different for everyone, but I invite you to take a good look at what your self-care practices reflect. Are they fulfilling your deep need for comfort and relaxation? Do they leave you feeling well-rested and loved? Do they inspire you to hop back in an tackle your next project?

Because truly, I deserve so much more from myself than that damn ice cream sundae. I deserve some solid attention and care.

What’s your favorite self-care activity?

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9 Comments to On Ice Cream Sundaes, “Treating Yourself Well” + Self-Care

  1. April 24, 2012 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    YES. I exactly get this. Sugar & coffee both affect me hugely in the mood department, but I still got for coffee & cookies when I’m ‘treating’ myself over a lovingly prepared many layered meal, which, truth be told, I enjoy more, for longer.

  2. April 24, 2012 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Ummm, holy mother of all that is holy you are SPEAKING to me in this post.
    This has been my week. Constant back and forth with myself about why I DESERVE the sugar/chocolate/latte goodness when I KNOW it doesn’t help when I know it just a) eggs the urges on stronger and b) makes me more of a mental head case. What I should have when this happens is some alternate comforts that feel real and give me the space to figure out what’s really going on. Now if I could just figure out what those are.

    (thank you for the timely reminder)

  3. April 24, 2012 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    My favorite self-care activity is yoga (prayer in motion.)

  4. Laura B.'s Gravatar Laura B.
    April 24, 2012 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    This is the perfect message for me today! I’ve been struggling with my eating since I got back from a vacation last week. During my time away from home, I slipped back into eating some foods that I hadn’t been eating because it was easier to eat them than to refuse. Now that I’m home, I’m struggling to get back on track.

  5. April 24, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    I will join the chorus of “This is exactly what I needed to hear exactly when I needed to hear it.” I need to change my definition of self-care — or at least the definition that the tantrum-prone little girl inside me has of self-care. And I need to create more options for me to grab off the shelf of healthy self-care when I am tempted to make an unhealthy choice.

  6. April 24, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    I’m so glad that this post is resonating for you guys – hopefully we can all feel inspired to do something TRULY kind for ourselves today. xoxo

  7. April 24, 2012 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    I love this post and can relate in certain ways. I have recently come to the realization that I’m addicted to sugar. I use it to comfort myself and also to get a false high. I use it to escape my feelings and to avoid dealing with things. Since addictions are unhealthy I decided to give up sugar and after two days became very depressed which confirmed my suspicion about my addiction – without my ‘drug’ I felt like the world was ending. I returned to eating sugar because I couldn’t deal with the feelings of sadness and discomfort NOT having sugar produced. For now I am working on being more mindful when I do eat sugar but I realize this is a habit I have to face one day. Also, the health implications of eating sugar are terrible and I am not practising self-love when I indulge in it. I have no weight issues – my weight never changes – and that has actually been a detriment since there is no physical evidence that it is hurting me which gives me an excuse to continue.

  8. April 26, 2012 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    The key for me is paying attention to what feels good and knowing I am at choice and combining it with our knowledge of what is healthful. Great post!

  9. Stephanie's Gravatar Stephanie
    July 25, 2012 at 6:11 am | Permalink


    OMG I LOVE!!! THE INTERNET. Sorry about the all caps. So excited to have found this post because it EXACTLY expresses this insane conundrum I’ve been ping ponging with for-ever. Sugar make me C-R-A-Z-Y. I am a complete sugar addict —from early childhood and I am now 60 YEARS OLD. Sugar is my crack. One of the ways it make me crazy is, it gives me insanely bizarre dreams—I’m convinced they’re adding strange new drugs to ice cream and other sugar products, but I especially notice it with ice cream.

    I had one of those bizarre dreams last night by the way, which went something like this: my husband was executed by a Russian husband/wife team — both tall, large and blond. And by the way, I never dream and when I do, it’s never in detail and I never remember any of it when I wake up. Continuing: this execution team shot my husband multiple timeS as I was just about to enter the living room from the terrace. Upon witnessing the intruders and the shooting, I stopped dead in my tracks and immediately took a step back and fled into the night. I boarded some form of transport (with no personal possessions) and arrived at a distant location, only to discover personal items at my destination — proof that this assassin team was aware of my plans, and had preceded me and purposely left this evidence scattered for my further freak-out benefit.

    So, I awoke this morning understanding, once again, and beyond a doubt, “SUGAR MAKES ME CRAAAZZZZYYYY”. While I was profoundly relieved to know my husband had indeed, not been shot dead by the dastardly Russian duo, I determined to google search my catchphrase “sugar makes me crazy”… and I found you. And I here you are speaking words I need to hear. Why am I continued “rewarding” myself with something that has long since ceased to be a reward. Thank you! Am I truly the dullest knife in the drawer!! Usually I robotically ice cream (or other sugar) binge. I know it makes me have bizarre dreams, intense body pain, coma like sleep episodes and sometimes rectal bleeding, yes, rectal bleeding! (TMI…sorry) or headaches and stuffiness, and yet I persist. I needed to break the synaptic connection between habitual addictive behavior and phantom pleasure, and by golly I think you — and that damn dream —- have done it. This ain’t fun anymore! It really isn’t. I don’t suspect it will be done just like that, but I’ve been inspired to come here, and to write this, so I’ll bookmark this page, save my writing and reference both as needed, along with regular repititions of Robert Lustig on Youtube — but I really think I’m done.

  1. By on April 24, 2012 at 11:30 am
  2. By on April 30, 2012 at 1:49 am
  3. By on June 14, 2012 at 10:28 am

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Welcome! I’m Mara.

I’m Mara Glatzel. I’m an intuitive coach and writer. I guide women home to themselves and teach them to create lives brimming with supreme self-care. read more
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