Four Guilty Pleasures That Go Beyond the “Yum Factor”


Anna Rosado, writer

The seasons are beginning to change, and, naturally, so is your diet. As the chilly air sets in, you may consume more salt, sugar, and saturated fat.  Or, you may find yourself indulging in some of your favorite dishes without that heaping side of guilt.

Selecting the right type of comfort food can allow you to dive into all of the guilty pleasures you crave, while also benefiting you with the protein and nutrients you need.

The health benefits of dark chocolate have been in the news lately.  Research has shown that hot cocoa can ward off early stages of dementia in elderly people. Cocoa is jam-packed with antioxidants that lower blood levels of cortisone, which is a steroid hormone in the body released in response to stress. It is best to use raw cocoa, rather than store-bought boxes of hot chocolate, which tend to contain unnatural sweeteners and preservatives, according to recent studies by Medical Daily.

 It is not all about the chocolate, however.  As the weather gets more chilly, so do we, and a nice cup of hot soup is capable of much more than just warming you up.

“People who eat broth or vegetable-based soup before their meal consume fewer calories overall,” nutritionist Rania Batayneh told Health magazine. Amongst these is chicken noodle soup, which is loaded with protein, fiber, and vitiamins.  Chicken noodle soup is ideal for sickness, according to Medical Daily.

Speaking of foods that are loaded with nutrients, the potato is one of the many. Potatoes are often referred to as containing empty carbs, but this all depends on how you prepare them. Potatoes contain complex carbohydrates, which last longer in your stomach than simple carbohydrates, like sugar, do. Doctor Jacquie Lavin, a weight-loss doctor for Slimming World, told the Daily Mail, “You should eat complex carbohydrates, such as potatoes, rather than simple carbohydrates like sugar or biscuits, for example, which give a short energy boost followed by hunger pangs.”

Mashed sweet potatoes are another healthy, delightful dish, containing vitamin A, vitamin C, and the antioxidant beta-carotene.

Enough of all those filling foods, let’s cut to the dessert! If you happen to be one of those crazed fans of anything pumpkin flavored, you will be happy to know that pumpkin pie, specifically, has only fifty calories and as many as three grams of fiber in one cup. “I absolutely love pumpkin pie, especially pumpkin cheesecake pie,” says Dakota Register, a junior at Bob Jones. “I had no idea that there are so many nutrients in pumpkin, though,” he adds. Pumpkin fights oxidative stress and inflammation with beta-carotene, an antioxidant, according to Medical Daily.

 Bonny Davis, RN and school nurse at Bob Jones, says that people can enjoy all of their favorite foods, as long as they are eaten in moderation. “Yes, it is important for people to be aware of the foods and drinks they consume, but all can be enjoyed if taken in equal portions.”

Mrs. Morgan, Health Science teacher at Bob Jones and RN, had a somewhat different input. “A rising problem is that the younger generation, mostly, does not have a very diverse and healthy diet. Say an active, young adult ate a BigMac every other day, and it would not faze him one bit, for the fact that he is active. However, having this type of “carefree” diet can be harmful for him later down the road. Gaining weight could catch up with him, and sadly, in college, he may not have as much time as he would like to exercise because of his new responsibilities.  This is why I think it is very important to maintain good eating habits at a young age and work to keep up those habits.”

Now that you have more insight about the pros and cons of not only these comfort foods, but for food in general, take this as long-term advice. The next time you are at the grocery store, take a few seconds to read over labels and the nutritional values, so you know exactly what you are eating. While you are there, pick up some fresh vegetables for a nice soup, and maybe a pumpkin pie or two for dessert.