Why I Always Eat a Piece of Cake on New Year’s Day

It’s my new favorite tradition. Here’s why.

Published Dec. 29, 2022.

I’ve always loved New Year’s celebrations. Playing music and dancing with loved ones, popping open some champagne, and wearing something a little sparkly are all things that fill the final hours of my year and make it a fitting send-off.

But in the past, it was the days and weeks following those celebrations that really defined the spirit of the new year for me. As for so many, 12:01 a.m. on January 1st meant more than the start of a new year, it was the start of a new mindset. A new lifestyle.

A new me.

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Of course, a “new me” never necessarily meant a happier me, a wiser me, or a more informed me. For years, it usually just meant “a me that could fit into my skinny jeans from 2016 again” (why do we still keep those around?).

The quest for that me usually resulted in a gentle slope from increasing my step count to banishing cooking oils and sauces, limiting carbs and the kinds of foods I would normally take a healthy pleasure in baking every week.

In other words, I would adopt a regimented all-or-nothing approach to weight loss tactics, disguised as a renewed interest in “health and wellbeing.” And invariably—humanly—this approach would fail by the first week of February and my mindset would revert from “all” to “nothing.” 

Carb-starved, overworked in the gym and overfed on cauliflower rice, I would faceplant into the nearest sheet cake and refuse to resurface for the next few weeks. And the cycle continues. 

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I know that I’m not the only one who hops on this hamster wheel of despair every single January; I’ve had countless conversations with friends all across the gender spectrum who have also struggled with this ridiculous psychological dance.

That’s why, a few years ago, I decided that New Years Eden could no longer be trusted. I had to nip that all-or-nothing attitude in the bud by introducing a healthy dose of so-called “imperfection” right on day one, to foil any dastardly plans my diet-culture-addled brain might concoct.

I decided to do what I love best, and bake a cake for my partner and me, which we would always share with our friends and neighbors, and enjoy a healthy slice of it on January 1st. No exceptions. More importantly, no faceplants. No guilt or anxiety. Just friends. And last nights playlist. And me—no new me. Just me. And cake.

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