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Guilt-Free? Shame on You!

Tracking down a troubling trend in the marketing of food

lempert report

A terrific column in the Huffington Post written by Garin Pirnia makes a great case for eliminating the term guilt-free.

She writes that in the past few years, the term “guilt-free comfort food” has been circulating on the internet and becoming prevalent in the marketing of food. Halo Top and the ilk advertise a guilt-free experience and Fitness magazineThe Daily Meal and Food Network have published roundup articles on guilt-free recipes. Many of these recipes substitute baked for fried, or they feature swaps like mac and cheese made with reduced-fat cheese or “ice cream” made with yogurt and vegan protein powder.

So what’s the problem? Isn’t this a good direction for us to follow?

Pirnia says that “guilt-free” infers that eating anything high in carbs, fat or sugar should make us want to run to confession and ask for forgiveness. She asks, “While eating healthy is usually the way to go, why does society lambaste comfort food eaters for indulging once in a while?”

She interviewed Jen Bateman, a food psychologist who specializes in diabetes and weight management and considers how that type of classification is a disservice to our health. “When we make foods ‘bad,’ we can set up a cycle of rebellion and craving them more,” she said. “It’s the inner teen inside us that doesn’t like to be told what to do. People feel ashamed and often feel hopeless or a sense of ‘what’s the point,’ and then they overeat to comfort.”

Pirnia ends her column by writing: "Here’s to living in a world where eating moderate levels of mac and cheese (made with fatty cheese) and greasy pizza made without a cauliflower crust aren’t meant to make you feel guilty."

Make your own decision, but the focus on health and wellness is here to stay, as long as people wake up and want to leave a long and healthy life.

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