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A Pleasure - But a Guilty One?

A few weeks ago, I saw an episode of Guy’s Grocery Games where chefs had to make a “guilty pleasure” for one round.

This language bothers me. I remember all too well how guilt and shame tormented me when I ate certain foods. I knew they were “bad” and I “shouldn’t” eat them.

But it didn’t stop me. It just meant I felt horrible about myself.

Maybe you can relate.

In a way, I even wonder if this language encouraged me to eat those foods even more. Talking about it with this kind of judgment reinforced my beliefs about food. And about how eating a certain way reflected on me.

This made me feel bad. And I often turned to food when I felt that way. Since I had already messed up, why not soothe myself with more food?

The problem is, it’s very difficult to get out of this mindset. Not impossible. But it’s a long, steep road.

So many foods are described as being a guilty pleasure, tasting sinfully good, or being an indulgence.

That’s why I was so delighted on that episode of Guy’s Grocery Games. Because one of the judges, Marc Murphy, said he didn’t believe in guilty pleasures. He said if he liked a food, he was going to eat it without feeling guilty or being ashamed.

What a concept!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t hear this very often on national television, especially in an unscripted moment. It was refreshing.

I thought about it on Friday when I went out for my second lunch for Maine Restaurant Week. Unlike last week, this time I got all three courses.

I started with a tasty arugula salad with pears and beets.

Then prosciutto-wrapped haddock with roasted potatoes. (But in the interest of full disclosure, since I knew I was getting dessert, I took a lot of this home.)

And finally, apple pie à la mode.

When I saw how big this was, I was very glad I hadn’t eaten all of my entrée!

But even though it was a treat – I don’t often have pie – I realized how amazing it was not to feel guilty. And not even to have that word cross my mind in relation to what I ate.

Changing this is a bit of a chicken and egg problem. If you change how you think about food, how you talk about it will likely shift. Or if you want to adjust your language, it will probably force you to consider how you’re thinking about it.

As with most things, though, awareness is the best place to start. Pay attention to how you talk, think, and feel about food – and how that reflects back on feelings about yourself.

If you’re not happy with it, see if you can start making small changes. And I hope that, like Marc Murphy, you’re able to have dessert – without the side of guilt!

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