Photograph by Isabella Balkin
This week is National Baking week, so it's only appropriate to challenge those who are making it their life's mission to promote 'guilt free desserts'. Simply by calling a dessert or treat 'guilt free' necessarily implies that all others are 'guilty'. Clearly this is a load of rubbish. Sorry if the truth hurts. It's a piece of cake, or a pudding or chocolate, it's inanimate. It cannot make you feel guilty about anything, only you can do that.
Recently I was organising some nutritional testing on a new product, and was talking with the food technologist about sugar levels and types. Right now refined white sugar is the bad guy of the food world with unrefined natural sugar as the superhero wearing his undies on the outside. Your body reacts to both in the same way "HELLOOOOO SUGAR!!!" The unrefined sugar brings some additional benefits, fibre, vitamins, minerals depending on the type. However, we're not talking about huge benefits... unless we're talking about huge levels of sugar. And don't get me started on sweet potatoes, they're an out of control disaster area for those with diabetes. And yes, we do bake a sweet potato brownie in our bakery.
Working in a bakery, it'a reasonable to assume that I eat more cake than the average person. More biscuits too, and brownies, yeah, chocolate as well... It's sort of my job. I don't even have a sweet tooth, so when I trial something new I'll err on the side of taste rather than sweetness. I was taste testing one of the international coffee chains gluten free chocolate brownies recently. It just tasted sweet, the only hint that it contained 'Belgian chocolate' was its colour. Similarly, I was eating macarons (whilst driving in the dark, probably best not to ask the hows and whys), and all of the elaborate flavours that I'd carefully selected were barely noticeable. Rose/Lemon/Gin? It was anyone's guess.
Do you know how much sugar is in an average sized banana? Just less than four teaspoons! So when you're feeling all virtuous as you're glugging down a fruity smoothie you're also ingesting anything from 7-10+ teaspoons of sugar!! Any decent nutritionist would advise you to eat something fibre-full at the same time as you drink the fruit smoothie to lessen the impact of the sugar hit. The key difference is that most people don't consider a smoothie as a 'guilty' treat. They tend to feel happy that they've taken the healthy option.
The next time that a baked good even attempts to make you feel guilty, look it in the eye and say out loud "You are cake. I am man/woman (delete as applicable), you cannot elicit an emotional response from me". Now people standing nearby may snigger, but at least these are actual people, and you're not letting cake be the boss of you. If this doesn't work try thinking about things which actually do make you feel guilty... if you're unsure here's my current Top 5:
1. Not spending enough time with family (specifically children and parents)
2. Dogs and Cats in need of homes
3. Children in Cambodia who's only education is to count to 10 in 6 languages to entertain tourists
4. Throwing away food
5. Older people living alone
Compared to these guiltsters a piece of cake is just that.