Monday, January 25, 2016

Rant: Let's Eliminate Guilty Pleasures


Guilt is "feeling bad because you have done something bad or wrong" and it's time to eliminate some of the guilt in our lives. We need to eliminate that guilt which is actually unnecessary though we have been programmed to think we are doing something wrong. I'm talking about guilty pleasures and specifically as they concern food.

Though I've thought of this issue before, it came to the forefront again recently when I saw fellow food writer Marc, of Boston's Hidden Restaurantspost an updated list, a slideshow, of Twelve Guilty Pleasures from Boston-Area and New England Restaurants. The list includes items such as a breakfast pizza, roast beef sandwich, lobster pot pie and chicken parmigiana calzone. The question that came to my mind was: Should anyone feel guilty for eating any of these dishes? I bet Marc didn't actually feel guilty about any of those dishes.

According to the Merriam Webster online dictionary, a guilty pleasure is defined as "something pleasurable that induces a usually minor feeling of guilt." It is clear that the twelve dishes listed by Marc would bring pleasure to many people. Many look appealing to me and I've certainly greatly enjoyed similar dishes. However, should he or anyone else for that matter feel guilt or shame for enjoying them?

I don't think so. If they taste good, if they bring you pleasure, then you should feel good about eating those foods. Just because other people might not agree with you, that should not be a sufficient reason for you to feel guilt. Just because the dishes might not be the healthiest, that too is not a sufficient reason to feel guilty.  Don't let the opinions of others indicate which foods are acceptable and which should cause guilt.

You should never feel guilty for enjoying a specific dish if it brings you pleasure. As such, there is no reason to have a list of "guilty pleasures." Such lists need to be eliminated and we should instead share lists of those foods which give us pleasure, without any taint of guilt or shame. In this case, guilt is a negative emotion which needs to be eliminated.

The next time someone asks you which foods are your guilty pleasures, tell them you aren't guilty about anything you eat.

1 comment:

Frederick Wright said...

I think it has come to be just a harmless colloquialism, rather than something to be taken as literal 'guilt'. Although I suppose for a small number of people with eating disorders, there might be actual guilt involved. I do berate myself somewhat when my self-control fails and I over-indulge in ANY particular food or drink. More so as I near 50 and the consequences for such lapses are more serious.