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Sage Sins

Filed Under: Diet & Weight Loss at 2:59 pm | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
Eating ChocolateThe guilt you feel with each piece of chocolate, extra glass of wine or handful of unplanned snacks makes you a normal human being. No diet-conscious eater gets through a diet indiscretion without at least a twinge of remorse. The calories, fat, sugars and other evils that have just entered your body add up before your eyes equaling, in your mind, an extra pound, another dress size and nothing but bad news. And, as I said, you’re not alone. We all experience it, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessary.

Today’s snack foods are getting healthier. News appears weekly about the boons of chocolate, wine and nuts. Each is so chock full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, it’s hard to remember their bad sides. And other snacks are getting similar reputations. Bags of chips, tubs of spread and boxes of cookies are now, for the most part, trans-fat free. An examination of the foods lining the shelves in 2006 found that 34 out of 44 cookies and cakes, 31 out of 40 chips, pretzels and popcorns, and 21 out of 29 margarines and butters had zero trans fat, leaving us, the secret nibblers, a little short on shame.

For the most part, that’s great news. Who doesn’t want more options for health and good taste as they stroll through the snack aisle? But there can be a downside to this health-trend as well. You see, as our shame dissipates, we allow our confidence to grow. We become blinded by the positive and forget the negative. No trans fat? Wonderful! Who cares about the saturated fat, the sodium and the sugar? Chocolate is good for you? Fabulous! I’ll have six jumbo milk chocolate bars, please. And suddenly the guilt that was assuaged by the goodness is cloaked by ignorance.

We have to pay attention to the details of what we eat. We have to continue to compare the labels, taking in not just the amount of trans fat but the amount of calories, sugar, salt, other fats and nutrients, too. Something with no trans fat may, if laden with saturated fat, wind up being more unhealthy than a trans-fat alternative. You won’t know unless you pay attention. Wise up; then, have your guilty pleasure without guilt.

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