Pop Tarts Tricked Me

I was never allowed to have pop tarts when I was little.

They were one of a number of fun, tasty treats that we couldn’t even consider at the grocery store. Basically anything that was artificially flavored, colored, or had cartoon characters on the box was taboo.

Whenever I got my hands on them at a friend’s house, I would frantically eat as many as I could -- not even worrying whether I liked the flavor. When I got a little older and had my own money, they were always a guilty binge food -- buy a box, and eat them all.

After I discovered Intuitive Eating, I started buying pop tarts on a pretty regular basis. I explored different flavors, and ate them whenever I felt like it. I gave myself full permission to enjoy them, which dissolved the emotional frenzy created by the deprivation. Sometimes they were the perfect afternoon snack, or an easy dessert after dinner.

The more I ate them, the less exciting they became. I stopped looking forward to them as much, and the boxes would sit in my cabinet for longer and longer periods of time (we even threw a few away because they had expired). They definitely weren’t alluring anymore.

I recently bought a box of cookies-n-cream flavored ones, because they are my daughter’s favorite kind. I ate a pack one afternoon, and then felt a little disappointed. I concluded that I didn’t really like that flavor.

The next time I was at the grocery store, I stood in front of the pop tart selection, and tried to decide which ones I wanted. None of them sounded appealing. I looked at my husband and said, “What happened to pop tarts? Didn’t they used to be delicious?”

He shrugged his shoulders and said, “No, they were always gross.”

And then it occurred to me: they HAD always been gross! I don’t even like them! I don’t even like these sweet pieces of cardboard that I’d been chasing around and obsessing over for the last 35 years.

I. don’t. like. pop. tarts.

What a revelation!

Here I am, several years into this process of making peace with food, finally realizing that I don’t even care for one of my ‘favorite’ foods.  

This is the magic of Intuitive Eating -- the insight, the awakening, the self-respect! The permission and freedom! I can eat whatever I want, and only eat things I love. I can take food, or leave it -- it doesn’t have any power over me any more.

I don’t have to hoard M&Ms, or buy 10 candy bars at once. I don’t have to pick through my kids’ Halloween candy and snatch up all the ones I want. I don’t have to eat until my stomach is stretched and aching and I’m having trouble breathing. I can make delicious chicken and vegetables for dinner because that’s what sounds good and makes me feel good; not because I’m punishing myself or trying to eat as few calories as possible. I can also eat tortellini alfredo and feel the same lack of guilt.

I respect myself, and honor my desires.

This is empowerment.

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