I caught part of some gameshow and one of the questions was about the name of Trader Joe’s diet food line. That brand name is “Reduced Guilt.” And that sucks.
First of all, the fact that these Wheat Crisps are “reduced guilt” indicates that, at least in Trader Joe’s estimation, I should feel guilty about eating some crackers in the first place. And I’m still not off the hook if I get these crackers – they’re not “guilt free”, just reduced guilt. So I should apparently still feel guilty, just less so.
I just wish they would have told me how much less guilty I should feel – 5% less, 30% less? And reduced from what original level of guilt? Are we talking about the guilt I “should” feel eating other wheat crisps? What if I was planning to have pretzels but then choose these instead? If I was thinking about having broccoli but went with the crackers should my guilt still be reduced? Thanks a lot Trader Joe’s – I’m freaking out here, can anyone create an algorithm to let me know how guilty I’m supposed to feel for eating these crackers?
Or, hey what about this – how about I don’t feel any guilt at all since, while I like Trader Joe’s products, I’m not prepared to put them in charge of my emotions. I have never seen any study indicate that guilt is good for digestion or health. Remember when we talked about that ridiculous Truvia ad campaign where a jingle singer used insane, grief, guilt, relief, and love three times discussing an artificial sweetener? We’ve got “sinfully delicious” cookies. Some desserts are decadent (the act or process of falling into moral decay): but some are divine (of or pertaining to a god, especially the Supreme Being).
I understand that advertisers will do whatever they can to sell a product, but they’ve got us coming and going. Feeling rebellious? Have this sinfully delicious cheesecake. Feeling bad about the cheesecake? Have our guilt-free brownie mix. They are allowed to do this, but we don’t have to buy in and, if our goal is a healthy relationship with food, this does seem like the way to go.
Even the idea of healthy foods and unhealthy foods is tricky. Some eating plans say that potatoes are the devil but others say that you can live on potatoes, milk, and a little bit of oatmeal. Some say eating lots of meat is healthy. Some say that not eating any meat is healthy. Some food plans say that anything cooked is unhealthy. Some people love peanutbutter as a protein source, some people die if they eat it. For someone dealing with hunger any kind of food may be better than no food. There are issues of access, culture, personal health circumstances, personal values, and personal choice involved. I think that any public health focus should be on providing access to foods that people would choose to eat and true, unbiased information.
I used to struggled a lot with my relationship with food and I’ve found that my mental health and physical health improve dramatically when I remind myself of, and – as much as possible – remove myself from, our culture’s mixed messages, moralization, and hyperbole around food. It turns out that if I refuse to feel guilty about eating food, then every food is guilt free.
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