My great-granddad Pop was a kind man who encouraged me and my sister to have a treat after we’d been out playing on the beach.
Taking off our matching anoraks in the snug middle room of his and Nan’s Tenby cottage, we’d be told ‘Go on, have a Welsh cake’. And there would be a plate of freshly made Welsh cakes to enjoy. With butter, yum. Sometimes it got a bit tricky. Pop would be insistent that we enjoyed more cakes, while Nan, from the kitchen, would shout out ‘DON’T spoil your tea’, in a warning tone that seemed risky to ignore.
I’ve internalised this call and response from 35 years ago. Nan saying ‘stop, think’ when I reach for food. Which is handy with MS, because – as with any chronic illness – there are so many times when I feel I ‘deserve’ a treat. Sometimes I fight the urge; many times I give in.
Hospital appointment that used up four hours in travelling and waiting? Go on, have a Welsh cake…
Weekly injection of Avonex. Aren’t I brave? Go on, have a Welsh cake…
Just making it through a day at work and getting home… Go on…. you get the picture.
Unfortunately, there are no calorie-free Welsh cakes, chocolate eclairs, ice-creams, peanut butter sandwiches, or gin and tonics (though, as a fat-free 50 calories a measure, spirits have their place. Of course, staying Drinkaware).
Comfort food hits the spot better and more quickly than any ‘why not spoil yourself with a relaxing bubble bath and a few scented candles’ alternative.
But nobody said life was fair. For me, being overweight would add to the MS burden, so I’m trying to avoid it. Fatigue and problems with walking can make it harder to be active – and it’s even harder to be active when you’re overweight.
So in the meantime, someone, please invent a special harmless treat for people with chronic illness – Go on, you know you want to.
I’m posting early this week because we are off to be the ‘support car’ for my big sister Laura Wright on her 100k Isle of Wight Challenge walk this weekend. She’s setting off about now and I wish her lots of luck, though if anyone can do it, she can.
She was the one who clambered up the cliffs in Tenby, while I assessed the risks from below. She’d always be ahead on the path, disappearing into the distance at speed, in pursuit of the next adventure. When her mind is set on something, it gets done, and always with care and without complaint, however tough the challenge.
She is raising money for Diabetes UK, a great charity for another chronic condition, where Welsh cakes have to be very strictly rationed.