What's Your "Guilty" Food?

I came across the concept of “guilty” foods the other day, and how in our modern culture as a result of industrialized food manufacturing, we actually label foods “good” and “guilty”.

I started thinking about guilty food.  Now, you have to understand that I think guilt in any form is a useless emotion (but that’s for another post!).  However, labeling food as “guilty”—maybe this is something.  After all, I’ve been known to short hand a description of a recipe with “guilt-free” and it seems that readers know exactly what I mean.  So, there you have it. I’m guilty.

 Guilt or treat?

Dessert.  This is the first guilty food word that pops into my head.  I don’t have dessert often enough to feel guilty about it, so when I want it, I have it.  I call this a treat.  Pure and simple.  Not too much, mostly fruit based, usually eaten at a dinner party or restaurant, preferably with multiple spoons for everyone to have a few bites. And, no fake ingredients – real whipped cream, please.

 Can guilty foods and heart-healthy go together?

Guilt…I know the word describes a food that’s definitely not heart-healthy, perhaps even plain bad, like a wild boyfriend of long ago.  Whenever the guilty food thought comes up on my radar, it’s generally while I’m on the road alone, bored and need a rest stop.  Somehow my steering wheel can sniff out that smell – you guessed it –McD’s french fries, with or without catsup.

There’s hardly anything good about those darn little fries except this: they taste exceptionally delicious to me. I love that engineered smell and finger-lickin’ salty taste. Yikes. What’s gotten into me? Finally, I realized with horror, that I was one of the masses hooked on the number one consumed vegetable in America –french fries.  Was I a victim of marketing persuasion at its best?  Get ‘em when they’re young and keep ‘em hooked.  Sound familiar?

 Break-up time

So, about a year ago I came to a decision – It was break-up time. That’s right – I secretly decided that it was time for those fat and salt laden little strips to go. At 230 calories for a small fry (without catsup), it’s double the 100 calorie snack food portion I like to limit myself to.   Plus, the nutritional density isn’t up to snuff.  And, then there was the big self-talk…McDonald’s…Susan, really?!

Part of the solution is bringing my snacks with me whenever possible.  That generally means nuts and raisins in a small baggie.  Water is the beverage of choice.  I know, it sounds way too nutritious and even downright pedestrian.

But, there you have it.  If society couldn’t protect me from my bad choices, I’d have to do it for myself.

 The Heart-Healthy Alternative

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love potatoes, especially sweet potatoes.  So, instead of eating those fried white ones, I just wait and make these oven-roasted bright- orange wedges instead.  They are so crusty on the outside and creamy on the inside and make any dish look vibrant.  Whether as a snack for the family or with dinner, sweet potatoes have the nutritional density that satisfies me.  But, they are definitely addictive as well, so I have to remember my portion size– no more than a quarter of the plate.

So, now that’s I’ve told you mine, please tell me yours.  What’s Your Guilty Food?  Come on… I know you have at least one.


Remember, if I can do it, you can, too!

Susan Levy
Publisher, Well-Fed Heart

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