Last night I went to my weekly yoga class in Clapham (it’s worth travelling for), and before the class started some of us were talking about Pancake Day; my contribution to the conversation was the revelation that I once ate 23 pancakes in one sitting.

Yes you read correctly; 23.

I can also put an entire pancake in my mouth at once but I didn’t bother sharing this tidbit as someone had already exclaimed, “but I thought you were a health freak!”

Practitioners of the healthy lifestyle variety tend to be viewed as holier-than-thou. Can I let you in on a secret? We’re not. Everyone of us has a vice and mine is cake: A wedge of victoria sponge, my friend Sandee’s carrot cake which is super moist because she uses pineapple juice in it, butterscotch brownies, honey and parsnip cake with pistachio frosting… the list goes on. I love cake so much that my nickname in secondary school was “Fat Lisa”, not because I was overweight but because I was regularly spotted eating two slices of cake for lunch (my given name is Lisa-Mae, so that accounts for why I wasn’t Fat Maisie).

I’m hoping that in reading this you’re feeling a sense of relief, we are all human, we are all programmed to crave and seek food with a high fat content. Back when food was scarce, eating foods which were highly calorific was essential for survival, and when we consumed them we were rewarded with a surge of feel-good hormones to ensure that we continued to seek out these reliable food sources. However, these days most of us live in a culture of abundance, but when we eat high fat foods we still get that feel-good kick.

Recently I bumped into an acupuncture client at a local café and as we were chatting she glanced at what was in front of me; a coffee with one sugar and a chunky slice of ginger and molasses cake. She went on to tell me, “I love that my acupuncturist drinks coffee with sugar in it and eats cake”. She felt relieved that her acupuncturist is “normal”. I felt relieved that she accepted me for being Fat Maisie. Ultimately our connection deepened and I think (hope) that as a result of our interaction, she feels more able to share her vices with me.

I’m not saying that we should continuously indulge our cravings, it’s about figuring out what’s appropriate for you. If I was running around Hackney guzzling coffee and sweet treats all day, I wouldn’t be treating myself kindly or treating my patients responsibly. In fact it’s nigh on impossible for me to hear what someone’s pulse is telling me when all I can hear is my own heart racing after a coffee! Instead, I stick to having one or two coffee and cake sessions a week, and when I say sessions I don’t mean 23 pancakes. The rest of the time I happily stick to herbal teas, savoury snacks or squares of dark chocolate (it’s full of magnesium, copper, manganese, phosphorus and other minerals, honest guv’).

As a practitioner it’s important that my clients feel able to be honest about their lifestyles with me, I like them to know that they won’t be yelled at. I’m not going to roll my eyes, shake my head or laugh at you. It takes a lot for some people to come for a treatment, so I’d rather congratulate you for showing up and being honest about your life. It’s far nicer when we feel acknowledged and accepted, right?

Let’s get real about what’s going on in our lives and remove the fear that if we dare to share what we struggle with, we’re going to be made to feel like we’re crap. Nobody needs that when they’re reaching out for support.

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